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ROBERT ESTIENNE (1503–1559)

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Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 799 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ROBERT ESTIENNE (1503–1559) was Henri's second son. After his father's death he acted as assistant to his stepfather, and in this capacity superintended the printing of a Latin edition of the New Testament in 16mo (1523). Some slight alterations which he had introduced into the text brought upon him the censures of the faculty of theology. It was the first of a long series of disputes between him and that body. It appears that he had intimate relations with the new Evangelical preachers almost from the beginning of the movement, and that soon after this time he definitely joined the Reformed Church. In 1526 he entered into possession of his father's printing establishment, and adopted as his device the celebrated olive-tree (a reminiscence doubtless of his grandmother's family of Montolivet), with the motto from the epistle to the Romans (xi. 20), Noli altum sapere, sometimes with the addition sed time. In 1528 he married Perrette, a daughter of the scholar and printer Josse Bade (Jodocus Badius), and in the same year he published his first Latin Bible, an edition in folio, upon which he had been at work for the last four years. In 1532 appeared his Thesaurus linguae Latinae, a dictionary of Latin words and phrases, upon which for two years he had toiled incessantly, with no other assistance than that of Thierry of Beauvais. A second edition, greatly enlarged and improved, appeared. in 1536, and a third, still further improved, in 3 vols. folio, in 1543. Though the Thesaurus is now superseded, its merits must not be forgotten. It was vastly superior to anything of the kind that had appeared before; it formed the basis of future labours, and even as late - as 1734 was considered worthy of being re-edited. In 1539 Robert was appointed king's printer for Hebrew and Latin, an office to which, after the death of Conrad Neobar in 1540, he united that of king's printer for Greek. In 1541 he was entrusted by Francis I. with the task of procuring from Claude Garamond, the engraver and type-founder, three sets of Greek type for the royal press. The middle size were the first ready, and with these Robert printed the editio princeps of the Ecclesiasticae Historiae of Eusebius and others (1544). The smallest size were first used for the 16mo edition of the New Testament known as the 0 mirificam (1546), while with the largest size was printed the magnificent folio of 1550. This edition involved the printer in fresh disputes with the faculty of theology, and towards the end of the following year he left his native town for ever, and took refuge at Geneva, where he published in 1552 a caustic and effective answer to his persecutors under the title Ad censuras theologorum Parisiensium, quibus Biblia a R. Stephano, Typographo Regio, ex usa calumniose notarunt, eiusdem R. S. responsio. A French translation, which is remarkable for the excellence of its style, was published by him in the same year (printed in Renouard's Annales de l'imprimerie des Estienne). At Geneva Robert proved himself an ardent partisan of Calvin, several of whose works he published. He died there on the 7t` of September 1559. It is by his work in connexion with the Bible, and especially as an editor of the New Testament, that he is on the whole best known. The text of his New Testament of 155o, either in its original form or in such slightly modified form as it assumed in the Elzevir text of 1634, remains to this day the traditional text. But this is due rather to its typographical beauty than to any critical merit. The readings of the fifteen MSS. which Robert's son Henri had collated for the purpose were merely introduced into the margin. The text was still almost exactly that of Erasmus. It was, however, the first edition ever published with a critical apparatus of any sort. Of the whole Bible Robert printed eleven editions—eight in Latin, two in Hebrew and one in French; while of the New Testament alone he printed twelve—five in Greek, five in Latin and two in French. In the Greek New Testament of 1551 (printed at Geneva) the present division into verses was introduced for the first time. The editiones principes which issued from Robert's press were eight in number, viz. Eusebius, including the Praeparatio evangelica and the Demonstratio evangelica as well as the Historia ecclesiastica already mentioned (1544-1546), Moschopulus (1545), Dionysius of Halicarnassus (February 1547), Alexander Trallianus (January 1548), Dio Cassius (January 1548), Justin Martyr (1551), Xiphilinus (1551), Appian (1551), the last being completed, after Robert's departure from Paris, by his brother Charles, and appearing under his name. Theseeditions, all in folio, except the Moschopulus, which is in 4t0, are unrivalled for beauty. Robert also printed numerous editions of Latin classics, of which perhaps the folio Virgil of 1532 is the most noteworthy, and a large quantity of Latin grammars and other educational works, many of which were written by Maturin Cordier, his friend and co-worker in the cause of humanism.
End of Article: ROBERT ESTIENNE (1503–1559)
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Additional information and Comments

"Two editions of the Hebrew Bible were also printed by him--one with the Commentary of Kimchi on the minor prophets, in 13 vols. 4to (Paris, 1539-43), another in 10 vols. 16mo (ibid. 1544-46." M'Clintock, John and James Strong. "Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature." Vol. IX, s.v. "Stephens" New York: Harper & Brothers, 1880.
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