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licentiate in laws, member of the academy of inscriptions and belles lettres,

, licentiate in laws, member of the academy of inscriptions and belles lettres, and an ecclesiastic in the diocese of Clermont, in Auvergne, where he applied himself to his several studies, except philosophy, to pursue which he went to Paris, was born in 1673. His parents being too poor to maintain him in this city, commanded him to return home but the friendships he had contracted, and the pleasure they gave him, were more irresistible than the authority of his relations; for he told them, that he was determined to remain where he was, and seek, in the exertion of his abilities, far those resources which, from their indigence, he had not any reason to expect. He was very shortly afterwards received into the family of Monsieur du Metz, president of the chamber of accounts, who intrusted to him the education of his sons, who always honoured him with their patronage and esteem. The exercises which he had set for these young gentlemen gave birth to his “Historical Explanation of Fables,” and, in some measure, determined the author to make mythology the principal object of his studies during the remainder of his life. This work appeared at first only in two volumes 12mo; but the uncommon taste and erudition discovered through the whole were the causes of his obtaining, in the year 1714, an admission into the academy of inscriptions and belles lettres, as one of their scholars. In 1716, this order was suppressed, and that of the associates augmented to ten, of which number was B&nier. In 1729, he was elected one of their pensioners. In 1715, he published a new edition of his “Explanation of Fables,” in dialogues, to which he annexed a third volume so great was the difference between this edition and the former, that it became justly entitled to all the merits of a new performance. Besides the five dialogues, which he added on subjects either not treated of in his former undertaking, or else very slightlymentioned, there is scarcely a single article which has not been retouched, and enriched by new conjectures or rendered more valuable by the multitude of proofs which are advanced in its support. “Until that time,” says the abbe du Fresnoy, in his catalogue of historians, “the origin of ancient fables had never been explained with such knowledge and discernment mythology is sought after at its first source, profane history. Here are no endeavours to mark out its affinity to the sacred writings and it is more than probable that the ill success which Huet bishop of Avranches, Bochart, and many others, met with in their attempts of this kind, was the chief reason to induce Banier to drop so fruitless an undertaking. This, however, is a work in which the author, without losing himself in the labyrinth of a science which is but too often less replete with use than ostentation, has not only unravelled all the notions which the ancients, even of the remotest times, had entertained of their deities, but traced out, with equal judgment and precision, the progress of their religious worship in the succeeding ages of the world.