AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

Rollin, C. (1754). Histoire ancienne de Egyptiens, des Carthaginois, des Assyriens, des Babyloniens, des Macedoniens, des Grecs (Tome premier). Amsterdam: Chatelain & Fils.


Charles Rollin (1661-1741) was a French Educator and Historian who was responsible for reforming the French educational system. After holding several prestigious posts as Professor of Rhetoric, Rector of the University of Paris, and later as Principal of the Collège de Beauvais, he embarked on a writing journey at the age of sixty. This culminated in the publication of several influential books, including his Treatise on Education, his Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginois, Assyrians, des Babylonians, Macedonians, and Greeks,  and his Roman History, a grand project which was left incomplete, due to Rollin's passing in 1741. At that time, only five out of the provisional 9 intended volumes had been completed: his disciple, Jean Baptiste Louis Crevier would take up the torch and finish the work of his professor.  

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Rollin spent his life as an academic and educator. Seeing that the humanistic studies as well as the University of Paris were languishing, he ventured to revamp the secondary High School curriculum by reviving the humanities. His ambitious project centered on reviving the study of Grammar, Rhetoric, History and Philosophy. History occupied a focal place in the Humanities program, as it was conceived to constitute an important factor in the formation of the youth. Although Rollin defended a more conservative Christian approach to history, establishing a distinction between sacred and profane histories, and embracing a Jansenist dark view of human nature that made him skeptical of the Enlightenment ideas of progress, he played a pivotal role in propagating humanistic studies and making them more accessible. Rollin was able to bridge classical studies with the interests and concerns of his time, and was visionary in foreseeing the value of the vernacular, choosing to write in French rather than in Latin. His Ancient History was formative in the curricula of various schools and universities throughout Europe for around 150 years.