CUMONT, Franz Valéry Marie. Aalst 3.1.1868 — Brussels 20.8.1947. Belgian Scholar of Ancient Religions, History and Archaeology. Son of a textile factory owner. Studies at Ghent, Ph.D. 1887. Then further studies at Bonn, Berlin, Vienna and Paris. From 1892 taught, from 1906 as Professor at Ghent, but in 1911 the catholic Minister of Education refused to appoint him to the chair of history of religions (Wikipedia says Roman history). As wealthy man he continued his studies as private scholar, living in Paris and Rome. In 1900-38 made several field trips to Anatolia and the Near East, discovered Dura-Europos. Beside classical languages he knew only Syriac, not Iranian, but specialised in the Roman Mithras religion, which he derived from its Iranian origins. His Manichaean studies became soon antiquated through the new text finds.
Publications: Ed. Textes et monuments relatifs aux mystères de Mithra. 1-2. Bruxelles 1894-99, the introduction separately as Les mystères de Mithra. Br. 1900, 3rd ed. 20+259 p. Br. 1913, also in English translation; Les religions orientales dans le paganisme romain. 22+333 p. Paris 1906, 4th ed. 1929, also in English.
– Recherches su le Manichéisme. 80 p. Bruxelles 1908.
– With J. Bidez: Les mages hellénisés. Zoroastre, Ostanès et Hystaspe d’après la tradition grecque. 1-2. 12+297+413 p. P. 1938.
– “La fin du monde selon les mages occidentaux”, RHR 103, 1931, 29-95.
– Other works on religions, on Ponto-Armenian archaeology and on Dura-Europos.
– Bibliotheca Cumontiana. Scripta Maiora et Scripta Minora. 1-6. 2010-17.
– C. Bonnet (ed.), La correspondance scientifique de Franz Cumont conservée à l’Academia Belgica de Rome. Bruxelles 1991.
Sources: C. Bonnet, D.O.L.F. 247f.; *L. Canet, life and good photo in preface to Cumont’s Lux Perpetua. P. 1949; J. Duchesne-Guillemin, Encyclopaedia Iranica 6, 1993, 454f.; Wikipedia; D. Praet, UGentMemorie.be with photo (in Dutch, 2016, with further references and link to full bibliography).
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