Henri Estienne

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Trésor de la langue grecque (re-edited in 1830)

Henri Estienne (/ˈtjɛn/; French: [etjɛn]; 1528 or 1531 – 1598), also known as Henricus Stephanus (/ˈstɛfənəs/), was a 16th-century French printer and classical scholar. He was the eldest son of Robert Estienne.


Estienne was born in Paris. He displayed in his youth a genuine enthusiasm for Greek and Latin. His father took special pains with his education. As part of his general training, he undertook in his nineteenth year a protracted journey to Italy, England, and Flanders, where he busied himself in collecting and collating manuscripts for his father's press.

In 1554 he published at Paris his first independent work, the Anacreon. Then he went again to Italy, helping Aldus at Venice, discovering a copy of Diodorus Siculus at Rome, and returning to Geneva in 1555.

In 1557 he seems to have had a printing establishment of his own. In the spirit of modern times, he advertised himself as the "Parisian printer" (typographus parisiensis). The following year he assumed the title illustris viri Huldrici Fuggeri typographus from his patron, Ulrich Fugger.

In 1559 Estienne assumed charge of his father's presses and became Printer of the Republic of Geneva.[1] He then distinguished himself as the publisher, editor, and collator of manuscripts. Works of Athenagoras of Athens, Aristotle, and Aeschylus appeared in 1557; Diodorus Siculus, 1559; Xenophon, 1561; Sextus Empiricus, 1562; Thucydides, 1564; Herodotus, both 1566 and 1581; and Sophocles, in 1568. He improved old translations, or made new Latin translations, of many Greek authors.

His most celebrated work, the Thesaurus graecae linguae or Greek thesaurus, appeared in four volumes in 1572, with a supplement in two volumes. This work was begun by his father and served up to the nineteenth century as the basis of Greek lexicography.

Of the editions of the Greek New Testament that went forth from his presses, that of Beza, with his commentary, deserves mention. A triglot containing the Peshitta appeared in 1569, of which some copies are in existence, bearing the date Lyon 1571. In 1565 a large French Bible was printed.

Henry's own editions of the Greek New Testament of 1576 and 1587 are noteworthy. The former contains the first scientific treatise on the language of the apostolic writers and the latter has a discussion of the ancient divisions of the text.

Plato's Dialogues were translated in 1578 by Jean de Serres and edited by Henri Estienne, image of copy owned by John Adams (1735 – 1826), second President of the United States

In 1578 he published a famous edition of the complete works of Plato, translated by Jean de Serres, with commentary. This work is the source of the standard 'Stephanus numbers' used by scholars today to refer to the works of Plato.

In 1594 he published a concordance of the New Testament, the preparatory studies for which his father had made.

Much earlier, he had translated Calvin's catechism into Greek, which was printed in 1554 in his father's printing room.

He died in Lyon in 1598.


Married three times, Estienne had fourteen children, three of whom survived him. His son Paul (born 1567), of whose life little is known, assumed control of the presses. Two of Paul's sons were printers—Joseph at La Rochelle and Antoine (died 1674), who became "Printer to the King" in Paris in 1613. Fronton du Duc's Chrysostom and Jean Morin's Greek Bible (3 vols., 1628) were issued from Antoine's presses.

His son Henry succeeded to the title of "Printer to the King" in 1649. His work closed about 1659. This Henry left no children and was the last of the family who took active interest in editing and printing.

See also[edit]


  • Schreiber, Fred (1982) The Estiennes: An Annotated Catalogue of Three Hundred Highlights of Their Various Presses (New York: E. K. Schreiber).
  • Jehasse, Jean (1976) La Renaissance de la critique: l'essor de l'Humanisme érudit de 1560 à 1614, Presses universitaires de Saint-Etienne.
  • Books by Bénédicte Boudou:
  1. L’Apologie pour Hérodote d’Henri Estienne, Droz, Textes littéraires français, 2 volumes, 2007, 1215 p.
  2. Henri II Estienne éditeur et écrivain, Bénédicte Boudou, Judit Keskéméti, Jean Céard et Hélène Cazes, Brépols, 2003, 764 p.
  3. Mars et les Muses dans l’Apologie pour Hérodote d’Henri Estienne, Droz, THR n° 335, 2000, 686 p.
  • Articles by Bénédicte Boudou :
  1. Henri Estienne lecteur des traductions latines des Psaumes, Biblia, Presses de l’Université de Paris Sorbonne, janvier 2008, p. 129-143.
  2. Le voyage satirique à Paris dans l’Apologie pour Hérodote d’Henri Estienne, RITM n° 37, éd. C. Leroy et G. Chamarat, 2007, p. 15-30.
  3. Place et signification de l’animal sauvage dans l’Apologie pour Hérodote d’Henri Estienne, L'animal sauvage à la Renaissance, éd. Ph. Ford, juillet 2007, p. 33-50.
  4. Deux regards sur le suicide dans la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle : Henri Estienne et Montaigne, Littérales n° 38, Horreurs et limites, 2007, p. 9-40.
  5. Traduttore, traditore, Henri Estienne et la trahison philologique, Réforme, Humanisme, Renaissance, n° 63, décembre 2006, p. 39-58.
  6. Proverbes et formules gnomiques chez Henri Estienne, De l’Histoire à la Poésie, Seizième siècle, n° 1, 2005, p. 161-174.
  7. La réception d’Hérodote au XVIe siècle, Grecs et Romains aux prises avec l’Histoire, Représentations, Récits et idéologies, Presses universitaires de Rennes, éd. G. Lachenaud, 2003, vol. 2, p. 729-743.
  8. Henri Estienne et la traduction par Sébastien Castellion de la Bible en français, Cité des hommes, cité de Dieu, Mélanges offerts à Daniel Ménager, 2003, p. 523-532.
  9. La place de la mémoire dans la composition chez Henri Estienne, Nouvelle Revue du XVIe siècle, 2002, n° 20/2, p. 57-72.
  10. Le chroniqueur du temps présent dans l’Apologie pour Hérodote, Histoire et Littérature au siècle de Montaigne, Mélanges offerts à Cl.-G. Dubois, Droz, 2002, p. 51-62.
  11. La laideur italienne, selon Henri Estienne, Littérales n° 28, Propos sur les Muses et la laideur, 2001, pp. 143–156.
  12. Henri Estienne éditeur d’historiens, ou Comment écrire l’Histoire ?, Nouvelle Revue du Seizième siècle, 2001, n° 19/1, p. 37-50.
  13. Le Commentariolus de Henri Estienne sur la Correspondance de Cicéron, L’Épistolaire en France, Actes du Centre V-L Saulnier, éd. C. Magnien, mars 2001, p. 33-49.
  14. La place de l’Apologie pour Hérodote d’Henri Estienne dans les Essais de Montaigne, Bulletin de la société internationale des Amis de Montaigne, n° 15-16, juil.-déc. 1999, p. 33-49.
  15. Les contes pour rire dans l’Apologie pour Hérodote, Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et de Renaissance, tome LVII, 1995, n° 2, p. 321-344.
  16. Les histoires tragiques dans l’Apologie pour Hérodote d’Henri Estienne, Studi Francesi, n° 104, Anno XXXV, Fascicolo II, 1992, p. 207-226.
  17. La poétique d’Henri Estienne, Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, t.LII, 1990, n° 3, p. 571-592.