Henri Estienne

Henri Estienne (1528 or 1531–1598), also known as Henricus Stephanus, was a sixteenth-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; and his father took special pains with his education, and, as a 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.


Henri Estienne

Henri Estienne

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

In 1557, he seems to have had a printing establishment of his own, and, in the spirit of modern times, 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.

Henri Estienne

In 1559, Henry assumed charge of his father's presses, and distinguished himself as the publisher, and also as the editor and collator of manuscripts. Works of Athenagoras, 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. His complete edition of Plato's dialogues in 1578 is the basis of their now standard Stephanus pagination. He improved old translations, or made new Latin translations, of many Greek authors.

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

Henri Estienne

Of the editions of the Greek New Testament that went forth from his presses, those of Beza with his commentary deserve 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 containing the first scientific treatise on the language of the apostolic writers; the latter, a discussion of the ancient divisions of the text. 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.


Henry was married three times, and had fourteen children, of whom three 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, and 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.

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