Scaliger, Joseph Justus

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Scaliger, Joseph Justus

(skăl`ĭjər), 1540–1609, French classical scholar. He was the son of Julius Caesar Scaliger, from whom he acquired his early mastery of Latin. He adopted Protestantism in 1562, served as companion of a Poitevin noble (1563–70), studied under Cujas at Valence (1570–72), and was professor of philosophy at Geneva (1572–74). After 1593 he held a research professorship at Leiden. Renowned in his own day for his erudition, he was learned in mathematics, philosophy, and many languages, and he was a promoter of scientific methods for textual criticism and the study of the classics. His De emendatione temporum [on the correction of chronology] (1583) surveyed all the ways then known of measuring time, and placed the study of ancient calendars and dates on a scientific basis. He discovered and restored the content of the lost original of the second book of Eusebius' chronicle. The chronological foundation for the modern study of ancient history was summed up in his Thesaurus temporum [repertory of dates] (1606). A brief autobiography, extending to 1594, supplemented by a selection from his letters, was edited and translated by G. W. Robinson (1927).


See biography by J. Bernays (1885, repr. 1965).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Scaliger, Joseph Justus


Born Aug. 5, 1540, in Agen; died Jan. 21, 1609, in Leiden. French humanist of Italian descent.

Scaliger became a Calvinist in 1562 and took an active part in the Wars of Religion in France, fleeing to Geneva after the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. In 1593 he took up residence in Leiden, where he taught at the university. He won renown for his commentaries on Varro, Vergil, Cato, and other classical authors and for his studies in comparative linguistics. He laid the groundwork for a scientific chronology of classical antiquity with the treatise De emendatione temporum (1583) and developed a system to standardize chronology.


Bernays, J. J. J. Scaliger. Berlin, 1855.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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The volume under review is a Festschrift for the man who has become one of the preeminent Neo-Latinists of his generation, with major books on Joseph Scaliger, Gerolamo Cardano, and Leon Battista Alberti to be found among his eighteen major monographs, seventeen coedited volumes, three collections of essays, and 150 scholarly articles.
"Kelly Beatty replies: The use of Julian days (or dates) is tied to the Julian Period, proposed by Joseph Scaliger in 1583 as a means to tie together three different calendrical cycles.
The first section presents work on Joseph Scaliger and Isaac Casaubon, two famous scholars of late Renaissance Europe.
In this context, Grafton and Weinberg provide particularly intriguing and useful discussion of Casaubon's interaction with Joseph Scaliger. Although they never met in person, the two scholars exchanged letters and engaged in discussion of key academic themes, with many of Scaliger's sensibilities serving as fodder for Casaubon's own approach and conclusions.
The great Christian student of calendars Joseph Scaliger may well have been right to proclaim that most 16th-century Jews believed that their fixed calendar went back to Moses himself.
Also, in the beginning chapters, de Thou's relationships with friends such as Isaac Casaubon and Joseph Scaliger, two of the most intellectual figures of the day, reveal his place as a prominent statesman and man of letters.
He initially worked on the polymath Joseph Scaliger, whose De emendatione temporum laid the foundation, in 1583, for all subsequent discussion of the chronology of the ancient world.
The project was continued by his protege, Joseph Scaliger, whose expurgation of the text of Festus is described by Anthony Grafton:
Grafton in his monograph on Scaliger (Joseph Scaliger [Oxford, 1983], pp.
We have already mentioned John Greaves and Edward Bernard, but we could also mention Bedwell himself, and individuals of the prior generation, such as Guillaume Postel (1510-81) and his student Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609).
Lecompte highlights how Macrobius's defenders, including Francois Dubois and Pontano, paint him as a rescuer and preserver of earlier authors, to be compared less to ancients than to contemporary philologists, commentators, and interpreters; Pontano names Pico, Poliziano, Turnebus, Ermolao Barbaro and Joseph Scaliger. If the humanists' laborious rescue of the treasures of antiquity was to be styled heroic, humanists must grant the title 'hero' to Macrobius as well, for his preservation of Cicero and Plato.