Jean Baptiste Gail - Encyclopedia

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JEAN BAPTISTE GAIL (1755-1829), French hellenist, was born in Paris on the 4th of July 1755. In 1791 he was appointed deputy, and in 1792 titular professor at the College de France. During the Revolution he quietly performed his professional duties, taking no part in politics, although he possessed the faculty of ingratiating himself with those in authority. In 1815 he was appointed by the king keeper of Greek MSS. in the royal library over the heads of the candidates proposed by the other conservators, an appointment which made him many enemies. Gail imagined that there was an organized conspiracy to belittle his learning and professional success, and there was a standing quarrel between him and his literary opponents, the most distinguished of whom was P. L. Courier. He died on the 5th of February 1829. Without being a great Greek scholar, Gail was a man of unwearied industry, whose whole life was devoted to his favourite studies, and he deserves every credit for having rescued Greek from the neglect into which it had fallen during the troublous times in which he lived. The list of Gail's published works filled 500 quarto pages of the introduction to his edition of Xenophon. The best of these is his edition of Theocritus (1828). He also wrote a number of elementary educational works, based on the principles of the school of Port Royal. His communications to the Academie des Inscriptions being coldly received and seldom accorded the honour of print, he inserted them in a vast compilation in 24 volumes, which he called Le Philologue, containing a mass of ill-digested notes on Greek grammar, geography, archaeology, and various authors.

See "Notice historique sur la vie et les ouvrages de J. B. G.," in Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, ix.; the articles in Biographic universelle (by A. Pillon) and Ersch and Gruber's Allgemeine Encyclopadie (by C. F. Behr); a list of his works will be found in J. M. Querard, La France litteraire (1829), including the contents of the volumes of Le Philologue.

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