Jean-Pierre Vernant

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Jean-Pierre Vernant
Born (1914-01-04)January 4, 1914
Provins, France
Died January 9, 2007(2007-01-09) (aged 93)
Sèvres, France
Occupation anthropologist, historian

Jean-Pierre Vernant (January 4, 1914 – January 9, 2007) was a French historian and anthropologist, specialist in ancient Greece. Influenced by Claude Lévi-Strauss, Vernant developed a structuralist approach to Greek myth, tragedy, and society which would itself be influential among classical scholars. He was an honorary professor at the Collège de France.


Born in Provins, France, Vernant at first studied philosophy, receiving his agrégation in this field in 1937.

A member of the Young Communists (Jeunes Communistes), Vernant joined the French Resistance during World War II and was a member of Libération-sud (founded by Emmanuel d'Astier). He later commanded the French Interior Forces (FFI) in Haute-Garonne under the pseudonym of "Colonel Berthier." He was a Companion of the Liberation. After the war he remained a member of the French Communist Party until 1969.

He entered the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in 1948 and, under the influence of Louis Gernet, turned to the study of ancient Greek anthropology. Ten years later he became director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS).

He was a member of the French sponsorship committee for the Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. He supported the funding organisation Non-Violence XXI.

He was awarded the CNRS gold medal in 1984. In 2002 he received an honorary doctorate at the University of Crete.

Vernant died a few days after his 93rd birthday in Sèvres.


The structuralist approach pioneered by Vernant has been influential on a wide range of classical scholars. More specifically, Vernant's reading of the myth of Prometheus was an important influence on philosopher Bernard Stiegler's book, Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus.


Awards and prizes

Doctor Honoris Causa

Other awards

Select publications

  • Les origines de la pensée grecque (Paris), 1962 (= Origins of Greek Thought, 1982)
  • Mythe et pensée chez les Grecs: Etudes de psychologie historique (Paris), 1965 (= Myth and Thought among the Greeks, 1983)
  • With Pierre Vidal-Naquet: Mythe et tragédie en Grèce ancienne, 2 vols. (Paris), 1972, 1986 (= Tragedy and Myth in Ancient Greece, 1981; Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece, 1988)
  • Mythe et société en Grèce ancienne (Paris), 1974 (= Myth and Society in Ancient Greece, 1978)
  • Divination et rationalité, 1974
  • With Marcel Detienne: Les ruses de l'intelligence: La mètis des Grecs (Paris), 1974 (= Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society, 1977)
  • Religion grecque, religions antiques (Paris), 1976
  • Religion, histoires, raisons (Paris), 1979
  • With Marcel Detienne: La cuisine de sacrifice en pays grec (Paris), 1979 (= Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks, 1989)
  • With Pierre Vidal-Naquet: Travail et esclavage en Grèce ancienne (Brussels), 1988
  • L'individu, la mort, l'amour: soi-même et l'autre en Grèce ancienne (Paris), 1989
  • Mythe et religion en Grèce ancienne (Paris), 1990
  • Figures, idoles, masques (Paris), 1990
  • With Pierre Vidal-Naquet: La Grèce ancienne, 3 vols. (Paris), 1990-92
  • Mortals and Immortals: Collected Essays (Princeton), 1991
  • With Pierre Vidal-Naquet: Œdipe et ses mythes (Brussels), 1994
  • Entre mythe et politique (Paris), 1996
  • With Jean Bottéro and Clarisse Herrenschmidt: L'orient ancien et nous (Paris), 1996 (= Ancestor of the West: Writing, Reasoning, and Religion in Mesopotamia, Elam, and Greece, 2000)
  • With Françoise Frontisi-Ducroux: Dans l'œil du miroir (Paris), 1997
  • L'univers, les dieux, les hommes: récits grecs des origines Paris, Le Seuil, 1999 (= The Universe, The Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths, 2001)
  • La traversée des frontières (Paris), 2004

External links