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Jean-Baptiste Gaspard d'Ansse de Villoison

Jean-Baptiste Gaspard d'Ansse (or Dannse) de Villoison (March 5, 1750 (or 1753) - April 25, 1805), French classical scholar, was born at Corbeil-sur-Seine.

He belonged to a noble family (De Ansso) of Spanish origin, and took his surname from a village in the neighbourhood. In 1773 he published the Homeric Lexicon of Apollonius from a manuscript in the abbey of Saint Germain des Pres. In 1778 appeared his edition of Longus's Daphnis and Chloë. In 1781 he went to Venice, where he spent three years in examining the library, his expenses being paid by the French government.

His chief discovery was a 10th century manuscript of the Iliad, with ancient scholia and marginal notes, indicating supposititious, corrupt or transposed verses. After leaving Venice, he accepted the invitation of the duke of Saxe-Weimar to his court. Some of the fruits of his researches in the library of the palace were collected into a volume (Epistolae Vinarienses, 1783), dedicated to his royal hosts.

Hoping to find a treasure similar to the Venetian Homer in Greece, he returned to Paris to prepare for a journey to the East. He visited Constantinople, Smyrna, the Greek islands, and Mount Athos, but the results did not come up to his expectation. In 1786 he returned, and in 1788 brought out the Codex Venetus of Homer, which created a sensation in the learned world. When the revolution broke out, being banished from Paris, he lived in retirement at Orleans, occupying himself chiefly with the transcription of the notes in the library of the brothers Valois (Valesius).

On the restoration of order, having returned to Paris, he accepted the professorship of modern Greek established by the government, and held it until it was transferred to the Collège de France as the professorship of the ancient and modern Greek languages. He died soon after his appointment.

Another work of some importance, Anecdota Graeca (1781), from the Paris and Venice libraries, contains the Ionia (violet garden) of the empress Eudocia, and several fragments of Iamblichus, Porphyry, Procopius of Gaza, Choricius and the Greek grammarians. Materials for an exhaustive work contemplated by him on ancient and modern Greece are preserved in the royal library of Paris.

See J Dacier, Notice historique sur la vie et les ouvrages de Villoison (1806); Chardon de la Rochette, Mélanges de critique et de philologie, iii. (1812); and especially the article by his friend and pupil E Quatremère in Nouvelle biographie generale, xiii., based upon private information.