Olivet, Joseph Thoulier D'

, an elegant French writer, and classical editor, was the son of a counsellor of the parliament of Besangon y and born at Salins, March 30, 1682. After having finished his early studies with much applause, he entered thse society of the Jesuits, but left them, to their great regret, at the age of thirty-three. Before this they had conceived so high an opinion of hid merit, as to recommend him to be tutor to the prince of Asturias, but the abbe preferred a life of independence and tranquillity. Some time after, he came to Paris, and profited by the conversation of the few eminent survivors of the age of Louis XIV. On his arrival here he found the men of literature engaged in the famous dispute relative to the comparative merits of the ancients and moderns, but had the good sense to disapprove of the sentiments and | paradoxes of Perrauk, and Terrasson, La Mothe, and Fontenelle. His first object appears to have been the study of his own language, which he wrote in great purity. In 1723 he was elected a member of the French academj-, and from this time devoted himself to the life of a man of letters.

His first publications were his translations from Cicero and Demosthenes, which have supponed their reputation through various editions. That of “De Natura Deorum,” “Entretiens de Ciceron sur la nature des Dieux,” was first published in 1726. In this, and in some other of his translations, he was assisted by the president Bouhier, but is thought, in France, to have excelled him in grammatical knowledge, and in transfusing the spirit of his author. Encouraged by the success of this work, D’Olivet published in 1727 the Philippics of Demosthenes, and Cicero’s orations against Cataline. Of all these translations he published for the last time an elegant edition, at the press of Barbou, in 1765 and 1766, 6 vols.

His next employment was a continuation of the history of the French academy, from 1652, where Pelisson left off, to 1700. This he published in 1729, 4to, and the following year, in 2 vols. 12mo. Having been always a diligent student of the grammar of the French language, he published some works on that subject, which were much approved in France, although, like a few other of his detached pieces, they are less interesting to an English reader. He had however, long meditated what has rendered his name dear to scholars of all nations, his edition of Cicero, which has served as a standard of correctness and critical utility. It appeared first in 1740, 9 vols. 4to, splendidly printed at the expence of the French govern ­jnent. It is formed on the editions of Victorius, Manntius, Lambinus, and Gruter, and has the *' Clavis Ernestina." This truly valuable edition was reprinted at Geneva, 1758, y vols. 4to, and at Oxford, with the addition of various readings from twenty-nine manuscripts, collated by Hearne, and others more recently examined, 1783, 10 vols. 4to. The abbe* Olivet, whose personal character appears to have been as amiable as his labours were valuable, died of a fit of apoplexy, Oct. 8, 1768. 1


Eloge by D’Alembert —Dict. Hist.