- Paul Veyne
Paul Veyne, born 13 June 1930 in
Aix-en-Provence, is a French archaeologistand historian, and a specialist on Ancient Rome. A former student of the École normale supérieureand member of the École française de Rome, he is now honorary professor at the Collège de France.
From an ordinary background, which he described as "uncultured", Veyne took up archaeology and history by chance, at the age of eight, when he discovered a piece of an
amphoraon a Celtic site close to the village of Cavaillon. He developed a particular interest in Roman civilizationsince it was the best-known in the environment in which he grew up.
The family having moved to
Lille, he assiduously studied the Roman collections of the archaeological museum there, where he received guidance from the curator. He maintains that his interest in the Greeks and Romans stems not from any humanist impulse or any specific admiration, but just from his chance discovery as a child.
Having come to Paris for his
khâgne, he had a sudden moment of political awakening in front of the bas-relief that celebrates the liberation of the city at the bottom of the Boulevard St. Micheland joined the Communist Party of France. He left the party four years later, without ever having had a true political conviction.
On the other hand, the bad treatment of the Algerians at the hands of the colonials revolted him in equal measure to the atrocities of the Nazis. Once again, however, his shock was neither social nor political, but moral.
Paul Veyne studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris 1951-55. He was a member of the École française de Rome 1955-1957, whereupon he settled in Aix-en-Provence as a professor at the Université de Provence. It was in his years in Aix he published his provocative "Comment on écrit l'histoire", an essay in the epistemology of history. [ Paul Veyne "Comment on écrit l'histoire : essai d'épistémologie", Le Seuil 1970.] At a time when the dominant trend in French historiography favored quantitative methods, Veyne's essay unabashedly declared history to be a "true tale". Through his essay he became an early representative for the interest in the narrative aspects of scientific history.
His monograph on euergetism from 1975 ("Le pain et le cirque"), however, demonstrated that Veyne's concept of narrative somwhat differed from its common use, and that his differences with the hegemonic Annales school was smaller than what had seemed to be the case in 1970. [ Paul Veyne "Le pain et le cirque", Le Seuil 1976.] The book is a comprehensive study of the practice of gift-giving, in the tradition of
Marcel Mauss, more in line with the anthropologically influenced "histoire des mentalités" of the third generation "annalistes" than with old fashioned narrative history.
In 1975 Veyne entered the Collège de France thanks to the support of
Raymond Aron, who had been abandoned by his former heir apparent Pierre Bourdieu. However, Veyne, by failing to cite the name of Aron in his inaugural lecture, aroused his displeasure, and according to Veyne he was persecuted by Aron ever since this perceived sign of his ingratitude. Fact|date=September 2008 Veyne remained there from 1975 to 1999 as holder of the chair of Roman history.
In 1978 Veyne's epistemological essay was reissued in tandem with a new essay on
Michel Foucaultas a historian, "Foucault révolutionne l'histoire". [ Paul Veyne "Comment on écrit l'histoire suivi par Foucault révolutionne l'histoire" Le Seuil 1978] In this essay Veyne moved away from the insistence on history as narrative, and focused instead on how the work of Foucault constituted a major shift in historical thinking. The essence of the Foucauldian 'revolution' was, according to Veyne, a shift of attention from 'objects' to 'practices', to highlight the way the epistemological objects were brought into being, rather than the objects themselves. With this essay Veyne established himself as an idiosyncratic and important interpreter of his colleague. The relationship between the historian of antiquities and the philosopher also influenced Foucault's turn towards antiquity with his the second volume of the " History of Sexuality" [ David Halperin, "One Hundred Years of Homosexuality", Routledge, 1990, page 64] . In 2008 Veyne published a full length book on Foucault, reworking some of the themes from his 1978 essay, expanding it to an intellectual portrait. [ Paul Veyne "Foucault. Sa Pensée, sa personne." Albin Michel 2008 ]
Paul Veyne now lives in
Bédoin, in the Vaucluse.
*"Comment on écrit l'histoire : essai d'épistémologie", Le Seuil, 1970.
*"Le pain et le cirque", Le Seuil, 1976.
*"L'inventaire des différences", Le Seuil, 1976.
*"Les Grecs ont-ils cru à leurs mythes ?", Le Seuil, 1983.
*"L'élégie érotique romaine", Le Seuil, 1983.
*"Histoire de la vie privée", vol. I, Le Seuil, 1987.
*"René Char en ses poèmes", Gallimard, 1990.
*"La société romaine", Le Seuil, 1991.
*"Sénèque, Entretiens, Lettres à Lucilius", revised translation, introduction and notes, Laffont, 1993.
*"Le quotidien et l'intéressant", conversations with Catherine Darbo-Peschanski, Hachette, 1995.
*"Les mystères du gynécée", in collaboration with F. Frontisi-Ducroux and F. Lissarrague, Gallimard, 1998.
*"Sexe et pouvoir à Rome", Tallandier, 2005.
*"L'empire gréco-romain", Le Seuil, 2005.
[This article is a translation of part of the article in French Wikipédia.]
* [http://www.college-de-france.fr/default/EN/all/ins_pro/p1001869038511.htm Paul Veyne sur le site du collège de France]
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