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26 March 1832|
Landau, Kingdom of Bavaria
25 November 1915 (aged 83)|
After studying at Wissembourg, Metz and Paris, he entered the École Normale Supérieure in 1852. In 1857 he went to Berlin, where he studied Sanskrit under Franz Bopp and Albrecht Weber. On his return to France he obtained an appointment in the department of oriental manuscripts at the Bibliothèque Impériale. In 1864 he became professor of comparative grammar at the Collège de France, in 1875 member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres, in 1879 inspecteur général for higher education until the abolition of the office in 1888. In 1890 he was made commander of the Legion of Honour. He resigned his chair in 1905, and died in Paris.
Among his works, which deal mainly with mythological and philological subjects, may be mentioned:
He also wrote pamphlets on education in France, the teaching of ancient languages, and the reform of French orthography. In 1906 he published Pour mieux connaitre Homère.
Michel Bréal can also be credited with the invention of the marathon race. He made the suggestion to put this event on the programme of the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 to his friend Pierre de Coubertin. The event was to commemorate the Greek soldier Pheidippides who, according to several legends, ran from the Battle of Marathon to either Athens or Sparta.
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