Michel Fourmont and His Forgeries [chapter]

2020 Fakes and Forgeries of Written Artefacts from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern China  
In the years following his return from a mission in Greece conducted in 1729-1730 on behalf of the king Louis XV, the priest and scholar Michel Fourmont presented to the Académie des Inscriptions several forged texts dating supposedly back to the very origin of Sparta, the famous Peloponnesian city. This paper explores the motivations and the technique of the forger, focusing especially on the relation between inscriptions and monuments, in his forgeries as well as in his copy of genuine texts.
more » ... y of genuine texts. In 1729-1730, Michel Fourmont, a French priest, scholar and antiquarian, travelled through Greece at Louis XV's bidding in order to find manuscripts to add to the Royal Library. He could not find any that were worth to take, but he did copy inscriptions, hundreds of inscriptions, especially in Athens and Sparta. In the letters he sent to his friends and patrons while in Greece and the preliminary reports he made to the Académie des Inscriptions upon his return, Fourmont boasted of the enormous value of the documents that he had discovered: 1 Depuis plus d'un mois, quoyque malade, je travaille avec 30 ouvriers à l'entière destruction de Sparte ; point de jour que je ne trouve quelque chose, il y en a eu qui m'ont produit jusqu'à 20 inscriptions [...] Par ce que j'ay déjà je puis vous assurer que nous avons une suite presque entière des prestres et des prestresses, des éphores, des gérontes, des gymnasiarches, des agoranomes et plusieurs choses des bidiaei. Le bonheur a voulu que j'aie trouvé les tombeaux de Lysander et d'Agésilas (celuy de Lysander n'est sans doute que pour l'honneur, il a été inhumé proche de Thèbes), des bases qui soutenoient les statues de plusieurs philosophes, rhéteurs, capitaines et autres personnages de ce païs-cy, jusques à présent inconnus, beaucoup de colonnes inscriptes et quantité d'autres choses de cette nature.
doi:10.1515/9783110714333-007 fatcat:p23en7s7ibh77gwkodyw34df7y