SACY, ANTOINE ISAAC SILVESTRE DE (1758-1838)
A French Orientalist. He was born in Paris. He studied Hebrew in order to verify the accuracy of the Latin and French versions of the Bible, and to this, he later added many other Semitic languages. In 1785 he became one of the eight resident free Academicians in the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.
Arabic was not his special study until later in life. He was made a professor of Arabic at the Ecole des Langues orientales vivantes at the National Library in Paris (1795-1796), to which Persian was afterward added. By 1805, de Sacy had completed his major work, the monumental Grammaire arabe (2 vols., Paris, 1810), and the great Chrestomathie arabe (3 vols., Paris, 1806). He was appointed royal censor by Louis XVIII (1814) and rector of the University of Paris (1815). He founded with Rémusat the Société asiatique and Journal Asiatique (1822) and was its first president. He also became the administrator of the Collège de France (1823) and the School of Oriental Languages (1824).
De Sacy was the first person to read any ancient Egyptian words, albeit in a small way, for he recognized and translated three names in demotic, starting with Ptolemy (1802). Though his work had no direct bearing on the fields of Egyptology and Coptology, it would seem reasonable to consider his Arabic output as a natural background to both those disciplines. One of his students was J. F. CHAMPOLLION.
- Dehérain, H. Silvestre de Sacy et ses correspondants, Extrait du Journal des savants, 1914-1919. Paris, 1919.
- Renouf, P. The Life-work of Sir Peter Le Page Renouf, Vol. 1, pp. 44, 88, 151, 167-69. Paris, 1902.