THEOPHILE, the name by which Theophile de Viau (or Viaud), French poet (1591-1626), is more commonly called. He was born in 1591, at Clairac, near Agen, and was educated at the Protestant college of Saumur. In he met Balzac, with whom he made an expedition to the Netherlands, which ended in a serious quarrel. On his return he seems to have been for two years a regular playwright to the actors at the Hotel de Bourgogne. In 1615 he attached himself to Henry, duke of Montmorency (1595-1632), under whose protection he produced the tragedy of Pyrame et Thisbe, acted probably about 1617. This piece, written in the extravagant Spanish-Italian manner, was ridiculed by Boileau (Preface to his Euvres, 1701). Theophile was a Huguenot and a freethinker, and had made unsparing use of his sharp wit in epigrams on the Church and on the government. In 1619 he was banished from Paris, but was allowed to return in the next year. He then served in that year in the campaign against the Huguenots, but in the autumn was an exile in England. He was recalled in 1621, and abjured Protestantism in 1622. In 1622 he had contributed four pieces to the Nouveau Parnasse Satirique, a miscellany of verse by many hands. In the next year a new edition appeared, with the addition of some licentious verse, and the inscription par le sieur Theophile on the title-page. Con temporary opinion justified Theophile's denial of this ascription, but the Jesuit father, Francois Garasse, published a tract against him entitled La Doctrine curieuse (1623). Theophile was again
prosecuted. This time he fled from Paris, to the court of Mont morency, and was condemned in his absence (Aug. 19, 1623) to death. On his flight to the border he was arrested, and imprisoned in the Conciergerie in Paris. He defended himself in an Apologie au roi (1625), and was liberated in September, his sentence being commuted to banishment for life. Under Montmorency's pro tection he hid in Paris for some time, and subsequently accom panied his friend and patron to the south. He died in Paris on Sept. 25, 1626.
Forty-two pamphlets on the prosecution of Theophile, written between the dates 1622 and 1626, are preserved in the Biblio theque Nationale in Paris. The standard modern edition of the works of Theophile is that of Alleaume in the Bibliotheque Else virienne (2 vols. 1856). Besides Pyrame et Thisbe, his works include a paraphrase, half verse, half prose, of the Phaedo. There are numerous French and Latin letters, his Apologie, a promising fragment of comic prose narrative, and a large collection of oc casional verses, odes, elegies, stanzas, etc. See K. Schirmacher, Theophile de Viau (Leipzig and Paris, 1897).