OutlineThe poets of the earliest times
The Greek historians: a constant source of references
On philosophers who are too dogmatic
1If Montesquieu felt himself connected to things Roman by a relationship as rich as it was problematic, what did he think of Greek writers? He did not maintain with Greece a relationship as close as with Rome. First because he did not actively use the Greek language. To be sure, he had discovered it at school in Juilly, but he was far from having established with it the intimacy he had with Latin: “Most people imagine that they have forgotten their Greek. That is because they never really knew it. It is the most difficult language in the world” (“La plupart des gens s’imaginent qu’ils ont oublié le grec. C’est qu’ils ne l’ont jamais su. C’est la langue du monde la plus difficile”, Spicilège, no. 568). As a consequence it was in Latin or French translations that Montesquieu read Greek authors.
2We often encounter under his pen severe judgments with respect to those Greeks who sometimes seemed to him braggarts and boisterous. Montesquieu found for example “nothing very marvelous in the war against Xerxes”, and “except for the declamations”, that war between the Greeks and the Great King seemed to him “just like a thousand others”. This was because “the Greeks had a great talent for putting themselves forward” (Pensées, no. 37, prior to 1731). On occasion, his judgment bears a resemblance to a categorical condemnation that seems to include all Greek authors: “they had less wit than the Roman authors. Plutarch was almost the only one. And he had the benefit of the Latin writers. The Greeks were unfamiliar with the epigram, the Latins before Martial; Greek epigrams were really nothing but inscriptions, just as they were unfamiliar with the acute dictum. It seems to me that the Greeks were bold as to style and timid as to thought” (Pensées, no. 251). Montesquieu cites with some complacency the opinion of a Christian apologist of the second century who had delivered a violent diatribe against the Greeks: “Tatianus Assyrius, in a Discourse against the Greeks, proves that they did not invent the sciences and the arts, but got them from the barbarians” (“Tatianus Assyrius, dans un Discours contre les Grecs, prouve qu’ils n’ont point inventé les sciences et les arts, mais qu’ils les ont eus des Barbares”, Pensées, no. 211 – this discourse of Tatian’s appears in Montesquieu’s library, in an edition by St. Justin: Catalogue, no. [‣]).
3These remarks, almost aggressive, reveal an inner debate and perhaps conflict. For Montesquieu is also capable of quite different reflections on these Greek writers. This Roman sometimes looks at Athens with noted sympathy: “I confess my taste for the Ancients. Antiquity enchants me, and I am always inclined to say with Pliny: ‘You are going to Athens. Respect their gods’” (Pensées, no. 110). To clarify the outline and limits of this adhesion, we need to distinguish at least three kinds of writings. Montesquieu indeed did not look in the same way at the books of poets, historians, and philosophers, which the library at La Brède moreover classified in different sections. By scanning these shelvings, we will encounter poetæ and fabularum narratores, then rerum scriptores, and finally philosophi.
The poets of the earliest times
4Greek poetry, epic and tragedy had for Montesquieu the powerful charm of the founding acts. With Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, the culture of the times of origin was being invented, a culture that welcomed at once energy, newness, grandeur and simplicity: “I confess that one of the things that has most charmed me in the works of the Ancients is that they capture the great and the simple at once; whereas it is almost always the case that our Moderns, when they strive for the great, lose the simple, or in striving for the simple, lose the great. It seems to me that in the former I see vast, lovely countrysides in their simplicity, and in the latter the gardens of a rich man, with its groves and flower beds” (“J’avoue qu’une des choses qui m’a le plus charmé dans les ouvrages des Anciens, c’est qu’ils attrapent en même temps le grand et le simple, au lieu qu’il arrive presque toujours que nos Modernes, en cherchant le grand, perdent le simple, ou, en cherchant le simple, perdent le grand. Il me semble que je vois dans les uns de belles et vastes campagnes avec leur simplicité, et dans les autres les jardins d’un homme riche, avec des bosquets et des parterres”, Pensées, no. 117).
5Montesquieu makes little mention in his writings of the Greek tragedians. But when he does, it is to underscore their founding greatness: “Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, from the start carried the genius of invention to the point that we have changed nothing in the rules they left to us, which they could only accomplish by a perfect knowledge of nature and the passions” (“Sophocle, Euripide, Eschyle, ont d’abord porté le génie d’invention au point que nous n’avons rien changé depuis aux règles qu’ils nous ont laissées, ce qu’ils n’ont pu faire que par une connaissance parfaite de la nature et des passions”, Pensées, no. 129). This judgment comes more from a general appreciation of the status of this original poetry than from a personal reading of the Greek tragedians. The catalogue of Montesquieu’s library, which contains no works by Aeschylus, notes a single volume by Euripides, in a Greco-Latin edition of 1602 (Catalogue, no. [‣]), and three volumes of Sophocles, among which the translations of Œdipus and Electra by André Dacier (Catalogue, nos. [‣]-2191). Aristophanes, better represented in this library, is the object of only very summary mentions – a single remark in the Pensées(no. 1006): “If we no longer have a Socrates, at least we still have some Aristophanes”; a passing allusion to The Women’s Assembly in the Spicilège , no. 542.
6When Montesquieu sought to encounter this original poetry, it was for the most part toward Homer that he turned. The library in La Brède was home to various editions of the Homeric poems: three editions of the Iliad and the Odyssey in which the Greek text is accompanied by its Latin translation – one of which is the edition of the Iliad established by François Portus (Catalogue, no. [‣]) and the complete edition of the Homeric ensemble by Jean de Sponde (Catalogue, no. [‣]) – and several French translations. It was in these translations that Montesquieu read Homer. We find him in the course of this Pensées evaluating the comparative merits of the different editions. Mme Dacier, he recognizes, had impressed the public with “the turn and even the fire of her translations” (“le tour et même le feu de ses traductions”), but her enthusiasm had led her to add “to all of Homer’s flaws, all those of her own mind, all those of her studies, and I dare even say all those of her sex” (“à tous les défauts d’Homère, tous ceux de son esprit, tous ceux de ses études, et j’ose même dire tous ceux de son sexe”, Pensées, no. 116); she “did not know what she admired. She admired Homer because he had written in Greek” (“ne savait ce qu’elle admirait. Elle admirait Homère parce qu’il avait écrit en grec”, Pensées, no. 894, transcribed between 1734 and 1739). Houdar de La Motte, who published his Iliad set into French verse in twelve cantos in 1714 (Catalogue, no. [‣]) is “an enchanter who seduces us by the power of his charms. But we must be wary of the art he employs” (“est un enchanteur, qui nous séduit par la force des charmes. Mais il faut se défier de l’art qu’il emploie”, Pensées, no. 116). Montesquieu’s choice ultimately goes to La Valterie’s translations in an edition published in 1709 (Catalogue, no. [‣]-[‣]): “I have read a translation of Homer’s Odyssey by M. de La Valterie […] and I confess that in reading it, I felt an infinite charm, and such as I do not remember Mme Dacier’s translation as having made me feel” (“J’ai lu une traduction de l’Odyssée d’Homère par M. de La Valterie [… ] et j’avoue qu’en la lisant, j’ai senti un charme infini, et tel que je ne me souviens pas que la traduction de Mme Dacier m’ait fait sentir le même”, Pensées, no. 1681). Montesquieu well knew that La Valterie’s translation could be accused of not being “exact”, but he judged that “the heart of the poem is admirable” and that, moreover, “by lending to Homer some genius and French expression, he has rendered him agreeable, he has rendered him more like himself” (Pensées, no. 1681). It is on the basis of this translation that Montesquieu, at the end of his life in 1751, created a notebook of quotations, sometimes with his own commentary, of the Homeric poems (see the study by Salvatore Rossa indicated below, and OC, t. XVII, 2017).
7Montesquieu does not grant Homer unconditional admiration: “I am not one of those who consider Homer the father and master of all sciences. That praise is ridiculous with respect to any author but is absurd for a poet” (“Je ne suis point du nombre de ceux qui regardent Homère comme le père et le maître de toutes les sciences. Cet éloge est ridicule en faveur de tout auteur mais il est absurde pour un poète”, Pensées, no. 115). In Lettres persanes, Rica judges as ludicrous this “quarrel” that opposes two overheated parties, whereas the question is only one of gauging the precise merit of “an old Greek poet, whose country has been unknown for two thousand years, as well at the time he died” and who, by common consent, is “an excellent poet” (LP, [‣]). Montesquieu listens to the debate begun by abbé d’Aubignac over the origin of the Homeric poems: “As Tasso imitated Virgil and Virgil, Homer, Homer might have imitated someone else. It is true that Antiquity has nothing to say on the subject. Yet some have said that he had done no more than collect the fables of his times” (“Comme Le Tasse a imité Virgile, Virgile Homère, Homère a pu avoir imité quelque autre. Il est vrai que l’Antiquité se tait à cet égard. Quelques-uns ont pourtant dit qu’il n’avait fait que ramasser les fables de son temps”, Pensées, no. 424).
8But all the commentaries which Montesquieu left us show that for him the Iliad and the Odyssey possessed the beauty of a primitive poetry, which is to say a primary poetry, original and foundational. When he compares Homer to Virgil, to Amadis de Gaula, to Milton (Pensées, no. 2179, 2252), it is always to recognize the primacy of the Greek poet, and he feels able to say that “no one will ever write a passable work of poetry except on the ideas of Homer” (Pensées, no. : texts transcribed one before 1731, the other at an indeterminate date and joined to the Pensées). Those epic times were harsh and simple: the kings cooked and themselves performed sacrifices – an observation which leads Montesquieu to this pertinent remark: “Thus the idea of cooking, in heroic times, is linked to the noblest ideas of other times, which is that of sacrifice” (“Ainsi l’idée de la cuisine, dans les temps héroïques, est liée avec les idées les plus nobles des autres temps, qui est celle de sacrifice”, Pensées, no. 2179). In Montesquieu’s imagination, that primitive life was sweetened by the goodness that could be mutually granted with the peaceable virtues of the Troglodytes. Those original, civilized charms, dependent too on the elegance of La Valterie’s translation, joined in his thought with the suavity of Fénelon’s Telemachus, as is shown by this remarkably categorical reflection: “The divine work of this century, Telemachus, in which Homer seems to breathe, is an unanswerable proof of the excellence of that ancient poet” (“L’ouvrage divin de ce siècle, Télémaque, dans lequel Homère semble respirer, est une preuve sans réplique de l’excellence de cet ancien poète”, Pensées, no. 115, repeated in no. 2252).
9Montesquieu came to the point where he lent to this primitive Antiquity the smiling colors of gallant esthetics: then he wrote The Temple of Gnidus, a short narrative which he amused himself by presenting as the translation of an anonymous Greek manuscript. This little novel, Montesquieu tells us in the “translator’s preface”, is a “sort of tableau” in which the public had found “cheerful notions, a certain magnificence in the descriptions and innocence in the sentiments” (“des idées riantes, une certaine magnificence dans les descriptions et de la naïveté dans les sentiments”). This text uses an image of Greece that comes largely from the Greek novel itself. Several of these novels that were the delight of the classical age are found in the library at La Brède: Longus’s Daphnis and Chloe (in a Latin edition: Catalogue, no. [‣], and in the et Amyot translation, edition of 1717, Catalogue, no. [‣]), the Leucippe and Kleitophon of Achilles Tatius (Latin edition, Catalogue, no. [‣]) and the very famous novel of Heliodorus, Aethiopica (Catalogue, no. [‣], Latin edition of 1611). But Montesquieu was even more inspired by the writings of Lucian, of which he owned two editions (one Greco-Latin edition of 1663, Catalogue, no. [‣], and a translation of 1686, Catalogue, no. [‣]).
The Greek historians: a constant source of references
10In the library at La Brède, there are many works written in Greek or translated from Greek in the section Græcorum rerum scriptores as well as in Romanorum rerum scriptores: Herodotus (five different editions, Catalogue , no. [‣], nos. [‣]-2784), Thucydides (three Greco-Latin editions, Catalogue, nos. [‣]-[‣]), Xenophon (Greek and Latin editions, French translation of Anabasis, Catalogue, nos. [‣]-[‣]); but also Polybius, Strabo, Dio Cassius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus (a Greco-Latin edition of 1566 and the translation of Roman Antiquities by Father Le Jay, published in 1722, Catalogue, nos. [‣] et [‣]), Diodorus Siculus, Plutarch, Appianus, Josephus, Pausanias, Arrian. All of these authors had been the subject of attentive reading, sometimes accompanied by the writing of an “extract” (such was the case for Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo and Plutarch: see Louis Desgrave, 1993). Montesquieu is attentive to the publication of new translations of these authors who are always for him precious sources. Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence as well as L’Esprit des lois are constantly complemented with references, often explicit, to these Greek or Greco-Roman historians. These references are sometimes accompanied by laudatory commentary. Thus Montesquieu celebrates “Polybius, the judicious Polybius” at the beginning of a chapter of L’Esprit des lois (IV, 8). He often likes to let these Greek historians speak for themselves, as in the chapter of L’Esprit des lois which is devoted to Greek trade (XXI, 7). After saying: “I must speak of this empire of the sea which Athens held”, Montesquieu cites a long passage from The Constitution of Athens, which tradition then attributed to Xenophon. This quotation concludes on this appreciation: “You would thing that Xenophon meant to be talking about England” (EL, XXI, 7).
11We must note the particular warmth with which Montesquieu refers to Plutarch, of whom he asserted, as we have noted, that he was perhaps the only Greek author not to have had “less wit than the Roman writers” (Pensées, no. 251). Plutarch was doubtless an historian, but a moralist too, close to being a philosopher and sage according to Montesquieu. The library at La Brède holds seven editions of Plutarch: a Greek edition, three Latin editions, and various editions of the translations by Jacques Amyot of the Famous Men and the Moralia (Catalogue, nos. [‣]-[‣]). Montesquieu on occasion expresses this confidence: “Plutarch always charms me: he has circumstances attached to persons that always give pleasure. When, in the Life of Brutus, he describes the accidents that befell the conspirators, their subjects of fright at the point of execution, one pities the poor conspirators. Then one pities Caesar” (Pensées, no. 607, an idea repeated in no. 698). The references to Plutarch seem to come spontaneously to Montesquieu’s mind, as is shown for example by this fragment from Pensées (no. 775): “Descartes taught those who came after him to discover his own errors. I compare him to Timoleon, who said: ‘I am delighted that by this means you have obtained the freedom to oppose my desires’” (“Descartes a enseigné à ceux qui sont venus après lui à découvrir ses erreurs mêmes. Je le compare à Timoléon qui disait : ‘Je suis ravi que, par mon moyen, vous ayez obtenu la liberté de vous opposer à mes désirs’”). It is in Plutarch’s Life of Timoleon (XXVIII, 2-3) that Montesquieu had found this anecdote which he thus freely relates. In the Pensées, we also find these formulas: “You will note that the Romans always bathed before dinner. That appears in Plutarch: I think in the Life of Cato – See my extract of Plutarch, where I think I put a few passages about this” (“Vous remarquerez que les Romains se baignaient toujours avant dîner. Cela paraît dans Plutarque, je crois dans la Vie de Caton – Voyez mon extrait de Plutarque, où je crois avoir mis quelques passages là-dessus”, Pensées, no. 665). Or further: “Does Plutarch not say something about that? See Plutarch” (Pensées, no. 1521). Finally, one should not forget that the first paragraph of L’Esprit des lois, which establishes law as a necessary relation deriving from the nature of things, proposes a first note thus couched: “Law, says Plutarch, is the queen of all mortals and immortals [In the treatise That a prince must be learned]”. This quotation was denounced as pagan in the 9 October 1749 issue of Nouvelles ecclésiastiques (Défense de L’Esprit des lois, OC, t. VII, p. 25). Montesquieu picks up on this criticism in his Défense de L’Esprit des lois (part I, second objection, ibid., p. 71) and maintains, with sovereign, scathing calm, this reference that affronted Catholic orthodoxy: “It is true that the author quoted Plutarch, who says that law is the queen of all mortals and immortals” (“Il est vrai que l’auteur a cité Plutarque, qui dit que la loi est la reine de tous les mortels et immortels”).
On philosophers who are too dogmatic
12When Montesquieu turns toward the Greek philosophers, towards Aristotle and Plato, the tone of his commentaries often becomes critical, and sometimes quite severe: “The philosophy of the Greeks was paltry. They spoiled the entire universe: not only their contemporaries but also their successors. See the pitiful precepts of the Pythagoricians that were to remain hidden from the people” (“La philosophie des Grecs était très peu de chose. Ils ont gâté tout l’univers : non seulement leurs contemporains mais aussi leurs successeurs. Voyez les pitoyables préceptes des pythagoriciens qui devaient être cachés au peuple”, Pensées, no. 211). The central point of this criticism derives from this conviction: the Greeks were blinded by an illusory quest for essences and found themselves unable to grasp the complex play of relations that constitute the equilibria of the physical and social worlds. “The same error of the Greeks flooded their entire philosophy; what caused them to create bad physics caused them to create a bad morality, a bad metaphysics. They didn’t sense the difference there is between positive and relative qualities; and as Aristotle was wrong with his dry, wet, hot, and cold, Plato and Socrates were wrong with their beautiful, good, foolish, and wise” (“La même erreur des Grecs inondait toute leur philosophie ; ce qui leur a fait faire une mauvaise physique leur a fait faire une mauvaise morale, une mauvaise métaphysique. C’est qu’ils ne sentaient pas la différence qu’il y a entre les qualités positives et les relatives ; et comme Aristote s’est trompé avec son sec, son humide, son chaud, son froid, Platon et Socrate se sont trompés avec leur beau, leur bon, leur fou, leur sage”, Pensées, no. 799). Montesquieu formulated this global and categorical criticism several times. In his Pensées (no. 410), he draws up the same accusation: “The terms beautiful, good, noble, great, perfect are attributes of objects, which are relative to the beings that consider them. It is essential to keep this principle in mind: it sponges most prejudices. It is the scourge of all of Ancient philosophy, of Aristotle’s physics and Plato’s metaphysics.” (“Les termes de beau, de bon, de noble, de grand, de parfait, sont des attributs des objets, lesquels sont relatifs aux êtres qui les considèrent. Il faut bien se mettre ce principe dans la tête : il est l’éponge de la plupart des préjugés. C’est le fléau de toute la philosophie ancienne, de la physique d’Aristote, de la métaphysique de Platon.”)
13These criticisms, as can be seen, apply almost in solidarity to Plato and Aristotle. It is perhaps surprising that Montesquieu was not more attuned to peripatetic “prudence”. No doubt he reproached Aristotle especially for having authorized a scholastic exegesis which he judged mind-numbing. This remark is evidence of that: “Aristotle’s philosophy having been brought to the West, it much pleased the subtle minds which, in times of ignorance, are the beaux-esprits. Scholastics became infatuated with it […]. Thus we owe to the speculations of scholastics all the misfortunes that have accompanied the destruction of commerce” (“La philosophie d’Aristote ayant été portée en Occident, elle plut beaucoup aux esprits subtils qui, dans les temps d’ignorance, sont les beaux esprits. Des scolastiques s’en infatuèrent […]. Ainsi nous devons aux spéculations des scolastiques tous les malheurs qui ont accompagné la destruction du commerce”, EL, XXI, 16 ). If Montesquieu could say that Epicurianism (“by holding up the stupidity of paganism”) and Platonism had facilitated the development of Christianity, he could recognize no virtue in the Aristotelian legacy: “It is gratuitously that we have adopted Aristotle’s jargon, and I do not know that we have ever gained anything by it” (“c’est gratuitement que nous avons pris le jargon d’Aristote, et je ne sache pas que nous y ayons jamais rien gagné”, Pensées, no. 21).
14These criticisms fade away when Montesquieu takes into account the political writings of Plato and Aristotle. To be sure, his judgment can still be accusing when Montesquieu evokes the passions that can obscure the effort of legislators: “Aristotle wanted to satisfy sometimes his jealousy of Plato, sometimes his passion for Alexander. Plato was resentful of the tyranny of the people of Athens” (“Aristote voulait satisfaire tantôt sa jalousie contre Platon, tantôt sa passion pour Alexandre. Platon était indigné contre la tyrannie du peuple d’Athènes”, EL, XXIX, 19). Yet it is indeed in the field of political philosophy that Plato and Aristotle find their greatest importance. Indeed, their reflections help us to understand the motivations of Greek liberty: “You have to reflect on Aristotle’s Politics and Plato’s two Republics if you want to have a clear notion of the Greeks’ laws and mores” (“Il faut réfléchir sur la Politique d’Aristote et sur les deux Républiques de Platon si l’on veut avoir une idée juste des lois et des mœurs des Grecs”, Pensées, no. 1378). Platonic constructions here appear to Montesquieu in solidarity with an historical reality: “I am not one who regards Plato’s Republic as an ideal and purely imaginary thing which would be impossible to put into practice. My reason is that the Republic of Lycurgus seems to be just as difficult to put into practice as Plato’s, and yet it was so well put into practice that it lasted as long as any republic known, in its strength and splendor” (“Je ne suis pas de ceux qui regardent la République de Platon comme une chose idéale et purement imaginaire, et dont l’exécution serait impossible. Ma raison est que la République de Lycurgue paraît d’une exécution tout aussi difficile que celle de Platon, et que cependant elle a été si bien exécutée qu’elle a duré autant qu’aucune république que l’on connaisse, dans sa force et sa splendeur”, Pensées, no. 1208). We can add this programmatic reflection: “For my system on liberty, it needs to be compared with the other ancient republics and for that read La Politiqued’Aristote, Pausanias […]; Strabo, book IV, which seems to apply my system; Platon, livre III des Lois, Plutarch, Life of Theseus, on the republic of Athens; ibid. Plutarch, Life of Solon, Xenophon, Republic of Athens […]” (“Pour mon système sur la liberté, il faudra le comparer avec les autres anciennes républiques et pour cela lire La Politiqued’Aristote, Pausanias […] ; Strabon, livre IV, qui me semble appliquer mon système, Platon, livre III des Lois, Plutarque, Vie de Thésée, sur la république d’Athènes, ibid., Plutarque, Vie de Solon, Xénophon, République d’Athènes […]”, Pensées, no. 907). One wonders of course why the references to Aristotle and Plato are stricken on the list of planned readings. Did Montesquieu no longer see their interest? Certainly not, on the contrary, Montesquieu struck the readings he did not need to repeat because he knew very well these two books which are frequently cited to reinforce the analyses presented in L’Esprit des lois.
15While Montesquieu recognized in Plato and Aristotle the primary figures in Greek philosophy, he could take other names into account as well. He owned two copies of the Lives, doctrines and sayings of famous philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius (Catalogue, nos. [‣] and [‣]), and could obviously not forget that stoicism, for which he had admiring respect, had originated on Greek soil.
Montesquieu, Extraits et notes de lectures, OC, t. XVII, 2017.
Raymond Trousson, “Montesquieu et les Grecs”, Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Budé, June-October 1968, p. 273-282.
Georges Benrekassa, “Le problème des sources dans les Considérations: questions de méthode”, Storia e ragione, Alberto Postigliola ed., Naples: Liguori, 1987, p. 33-46 (in particular on the way Montesquieu refers to Polybius).
Louis Desgraves, “Les extraits de lecture de Montesquieu”, Dix-Huitième Siècle 25 (1993), https://www.persee.fr/doc/dhs_0070-6760_1993_num_25_1_1945.
Cecil Courtney, with the collaboration of C. Volpilhac-Auger, “Bibliographie chronologique provisoire des œuvres de Montesquieu”, Revue Montesquieu 2 (1998), http://montesquieu.ens-lyon.fr/spip.php?article157.
Salvatore Rotta, “L’Homère de Montesquieu”, in Homère en France après la querelle, 1715-1900, ed. Françoise Létoublon and Catherine Volpilhac-Auger, Paris: Champion, 1999, p. 141-148.
Carole Dornier, “Montesquieu et l’esthétique galante”, Revue Montesquieu 5 (2001), http://montesquieu.ens-lyon.fr/spip.php?article327.
Christophe Martin, “Montesquieu lecteur d’Homère, Virgile, Fénelon et quelques autres”, Montesquieu œuvre ouverte? (1748-1755), ed. Catherine Larrère, Cahiers Montesquieu 9, Naples : Liguori, p. 271-292.
Christophe Martin, “Une apologétique ‘moderne’ des Anciens: la querelle d’Homère dans les Pensées de Montesquieu”, Revue Montesquieu 7 (2003-2004), http://montesquieu.ens-lyon.fr/spip.php?article329.
Christophe Martin, “‘Nos mœurs et notre religion manquent à l’esprit poétique’: la poésie des temps héroïques selon Montesquieu”, in Du goût à l’esthétique: Montesquieu, ed. Jean Ehrard and Catherine Volpilhac-Auger, Pessac: Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, 2007, p. 79-103.
Pierre Briant, “Montesquieu et ses sources: Alexandre, l’Empire perse, les Guèbres et l’irrigation (EL, X, 13-14 ; XVIII, 7)”, SVEC 2007:06, Oxford, Voltaire Foundation, 2007, p. 243-262.