Julius Caesar Scaliger

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Scaliger, Julius Caesar,

1484–1558, Italian philologist and physician in France. Scaliger studied medicine and settled in France (1526), where he worked as a physician. A scholar of profound erudition, Scaliger was nevertheless contentious and arrogant and made many enemies, including Erasmus and Jerome Cardan. In his De causis linguae Latinae (1540), he analyzed Cicero's style, criticizing the earlier studies of his humanist predecessors. He wrote commentaries on the medical and botanical writings of Hippocrates, Theophrastus, and Aristotle and urged an improved classification of plants according to their unique characteristics. In his famous Poetics (1561, tr. 1905) he extolled Vergil and Seneca.

Scaliger, Julius Caesar


(pen name of Giulio Bordoni). Born Apr. 23, 1484, in Padua, Italy; died Oct. 21, 1558, in Agen, France. French philologist, critic, poet, and physician.

Scaliger studied theology, philosophy, medicine, and the Greek and Latin classics. In 1528 he settled in Agen under the name J.-C. de Lescalle. In 1531, Saliger, who wrote in Latin, issued a lampoon in letter form attacking Erasmus; as a rationalist, he was an opponent of a number of humanists. His most interesting work is Poetics (published 1561), which provides definitions of verse and dramatic genres and seeks to justify the principle of the three dramatic unities on the grounds that the unities correspond to the logic of theatrical presentation. The French classicists made Scaliger’s theories the basis for normative poetics.

Scaliger’s De causis linguae latinae (1540) was one of the first grammars in Europe to be based on new ideas and methods that broke with the centuries-long tradition of compilations from Donatus and Priscian. These ideas were further developed in the Port-Royal Grammar.


Poetices libri septem. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt, 1964. (Facsimile reprint of the Lyon edition of 1561.)


Anikst, A. Teoriia dramy ot Aristotelia do Lessinga. Moscow, 1967.
Ferraro, R. M. Giudizi critici e criteri estelici nei Poetices libri septem (1561) di J. C. Scaligero. Chapel Hill, N.C, 1971.