Pierre Vidal-Naquet

Pierre Vidal-Naquet ( Paris , 23 of July of 1930 – Nice , 29 of July of 2006 ) was a renowned historian French of Ancient Greece .


He was born into a family of origin Jew , above all, was republican and secular, as he always said. His parents were captured by the Gestapo and killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp . His father, Lucien Vidal-Naquet (1899-1944) was a recognized jurist and member of the Resistance. The Second World War forced him, still an adolescent, to participate in the resistance against the Nazi occupation. In his Memoirs , on the basis of this familiar image, he has pointed out its repercussion in French postwar society.


After the war he specialized in Ancient Greece and graduated from the Faculty of Arts of Paris . His first destination was a school in Orleans . Later, he joined the Faculty of Letters of Lille and later to the University of Lyon , developing management activities in historical research centers. Finally he has been director of Greek studies in the School of High Studies in Social Sciences of Paris, in a very fruitful race.

He has collaborated with the great Hellenists of his time, who have been a reference in the renovation and opening to the public of Greek studies, such as Pierre Leveque , Michel Austin , and especially Jean Pierre Vernant . Today his works are classics: on Clístenes, Cleisthenes l’Athenien (1964), the old economy Economies et sociétés en Grèce ancienne (1972), the famous Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece (1972), Travail et en Grèce ancienne esclavage ( 1988) or his varied essays of The Black Hunter (1981), these last two analyze the slavery of the Antiquity.


He developed, committed to his time, an intense political work in favor of the persecuted; Stressed his opposition to the French war against the liberation of Algeria by denouncing state torture. He signed the so-called Manifesto of the 121 in 1958 and the Algerian conflict led him to write his first work in 1958, L’Affaire Audin , which reminded him of the conversations with his father as a child on the Dreyfus case . The work was censored and he provisionally suspended as a teacher. In the book he recounted the case of a mathematics professor at the University of Algiers who had died when he was interrogated by the French army.

When completed nine years after the war in Algeria (1954-1962) General Jacques Massu published a memoir entitled The real battle of Algiers in which justified the use of torture, Vidal-Naquet replied with the publication of the French translation of his book Torture: Cancer of Democracy , originally published in English in 1963 and in which he denounced that the cancer of democracy was not torture itself but indifference towards it, followed by Les Crimes de l’armée francais [ ‘The Crimes of the French Army’, 1977], in which he described the horrors of French repression during the Algerian war , extending an earlier book published in 1962 under the title Raison d’etat . 1

He also spoke against the Vietnam War and the situation of prisons in France along with other prominent intellectuals such as Michel Foucault . Successive wars in Iraq were also the focus of his criticism and condemnation, as well as the situation of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the attitude of the government of Ariel Sharon , who was relentlessly critical.

He also was a valiant fighter against historical revisionism (negationism) the Nazi Holocaust , to which he devoted several of his works. See Les Assassins de la memoire , and Les juifs, la mémoire et le présent .


  • L’Affaire Audin, 1957-1978 , Minuit, 1958.
  • La Raison d’Etat , Minuit, 1962.
  • Les Assassins de la memoire , Découverte, 1987.
  • Les juifs, la mémoire et le présent , 1981. Tr. The Jews, the memory and the present . FCE Argentina, 1996. ISBN 950-557-218-2
  • Clisthéne l’Athenien , with Pierre Leveque , Belles Lettres, 1964.
  • Economies et sociétés en Grèce ancienne , A. Colin, 1972, with Michel Austin .
  • Mythe et tragédie en Grece ancienne , 1972, with Jean Pierre Vernant . Tr. Myth and tragedy in Ancient Greece , Paidós, 2002. ISBN 84-493-1197-7 .
  • Le chasseur noire , Maspéro, 1981. Tr. The black hunter. Forms of thought and forms of society in the Greek world , Peninsula, 1983.
  • Oedipe et ses mythes , Découverte, 1986, with Jean Pierre Vernant .
  • Travail et esclavage en Grèce ancienne , Brussels, Complexe, 1988, with Jean Pierre Vernant .
  • La Grèce ancienne , I, II and III, Seuil, 1990-1992, with Jean Pierre Vernant .
  • La démocratie grecque , 1996. Tr. Greek democracy, a new vision: trials of ancient and modern historiography. , Akal, 1998.
  • Le monde d’Homere , 2002. Tr. The world of Homer . FCE Argentina, 2001. ISBN 950-557-396-0
  • Le miroir brisé , Belles Lettres, 2002.
  • L’Atlantide , Belles Lettres, 2005. Tr. The Atlantis: small story of a Platonic myth , Akal, 2006. ISBN 84-460-2416-0

Personal sources

  • Mémoires, I. 1930-1955 , Découverte, 1995.
  • Mémoires, II. 1955-1998 , Découverte, 1998.
  • Le choix de l’histoire , Arléa, 2003, text on his intellectual commitment.
  • L’histoire est mon combat , Albin Michel, 2006. Tr. History is my struggle , Valencia, University of Valencia, 2008, interview.
  • Les images de l’historien , Klincksieck, 2007; interview.


  1. Back to top↑ Peters, Edward (1987). The torture . Madrid: Alianza Editorial. Pp. 243; ISBN  84-206-0251-5 .