Jean-Pierre Vernant

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Jean-Pierre Vernant, 2006

Jean-Pierre Vernant (born January 4, 1914 in Provins , France , † January 9, 2007 in Sèvres , France) was a French classical philologist, religious and cultural historian and anthropologist.

Live and act

He taught at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris and was professeur honoraire at the Collège de France . His research area was Greek mythology and its anthropological implications for the religious and cultural history of antiquity. He was a student of Louis-Jules Gernet , whose main works he published posthumously, and the first classical philologist to systematically apply the structuralist method of Claude Lévi-Strauss to the study of Greek mythology. Together with Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Marcel Detienne , Vernant founded the so-called École de Paris of historical anthropology, which seeks to capture Greek antiquity on the basis of an overall structural anthropological and social scientific basis. With his unconventional interdisciplinary work, he received great international attention. According to Bernd Janowski , he is “one of the pioneers of a historical anthropology of antiquity”.

Jean-Pierre Vernant was a member of the Jeunesse communiste and later the French Communist Party (PCF). He participated as a leading member of the Resistance during World War II . He resigned from the PCF in 1970.

In 1991 Vernant was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 1994 to the British Academy .


Vernant's approach brought him vehement criticism, especially in Italy - also and especially from Marxist-influenced philologists - which accused him, among other things, of working ahistorically , neglecting the individual characteristics of the authors, and even manipulating the texts by using categories that are fundamentally alien to them (e.g. polysemy and ambiguity ).


  • Problèmes de la guerre en Grèce ancienne , Paris, Mouton 1968.
  • Mythe et pensée chez les Grecs: Etudes de psychologie historique . Maspero, Paris 1965, new edition: La Découverte, Paris 2007.
    • German by Horst Brühmann: Myth and thought among the Greeks. Historical-psychological studies . Konstanz University Press, Konstanz 2016, ISBN 978-3-86253-053-3 .
  • La cuisine du sacrifice en pays grec (avec M. Detienne), Gallimard, Paris 1979.
  • La mort, les morts dans les sociétés anciennes (avec G. Gnoli), Univ. Pr., Cambridge 1982.
  • Travail et esclavage en Grèce ancienne (avec P. Vidal Naquet), Ed. Complexe, Bruxelles 1994.
  • Mythe et tragédie en Grèce ancienne (avec P. Vidal Naquet), Ed. La Découverte, Paris 2004.
  • Passé et présent: contributions à une psychologie historique , Ed. di Storia e Letteratura, Roma 1995.
  • Les ruses de l'intelligence: la mètis des Grecs (avec M. Detienne), Flammarion, Paris 1999.
  • Mythe et société en Grèce ancienne , Éd. La Découverte, Paris 2004. [ Myth and Society in Ancient Greece , Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1987].
  • Les origines de la pensée grecque , Press Univ. De France, Paris 2004 [ The Origin of Greek Thought , Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1991].
  • La mort dans les yeux. Figures de l'autre en Grèce ancienne. Artémis, Gorgô , Éd. Hachette, Paris 1990 [ Death in the Eyes: Figures of the Other in Ancient Greece: Artemis and Gorgo (Fischer Wissenschaft Volume 7401) , Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt a. M. 1988, ISBN 3-596-27401-X ].
  • Figures de l'Autre en Grèce ancienne: Artémis, Gorgo , Hachette, Paris 1985.
  • Myth et religion en Grèce ancienne , Éd. du Seuil, Paris 1990 [ Myth and Religion in Ancient Greece , Campus, Frankfurt a. M. 1995].
  • L'Univers, les dieux, les hommes , Éd. du Seuil, Paris 2004 [ Gods and people ... , Dumont, Cologne 2000 / Greek myths retold , Dumont, Cologne 2004].
  • Entre mythe et politique , Ed. du Seuil, Paris 1996 [ Between Myth and Politics , Wagenbach, Berlin 1997].
  • L 'homme grec (see la dir. De J.-P. Vernant), Éd. du Seuil, Paris 1993 [ Man of Ancient Greece (edited by J.-P. Vernant), Campus, Frankfurt a. M. 1993].
  • Masked Dionysus: Urban Planning and Gender Roles in Ancient Greece (Small Library of Cultural Studies, Volume 55) Wagenbach, Berlin 1996.
  • C. Lévi-Strauss, Myth without Illusion (with contributions by J.-P. Vernant), Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1984.
  • Oeuvres. Religions, rationalités, politique Paris: Editions du Seuil 2007, 2 vols. 2509 pp. (Contains many of the above titles).


Web links

Commons : Jean-Pierre Vernant  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. B. Janowski (Ed.), The whole person. On the anthropology of antiquity and its European post-history. Berlin 2012. p. 15.
  2. ^ Fellows: Jean-Pierre Vernant. British Academy, accessed August 13, 2020 .
  3. Vincenzo Di Benedetto , La tragedia greca di Jean-Pierre Vernant , in: Belfagor 32 (1977), pp. 461-468; see also Vincenzo Di Benedetto, L'ambiguo nella tragedia greca: una categoria fuorviante , in: Euripide "Medea", introd. di V. Di Benedetto, trad. di E. Cerbo , pp. 62-75, Milan 1997.