Guillaume Massieu was born in Caen in 1665, and although he came from a humble background, he was sent to Paris at the age of sixteen to study with the Jesuits at the Collège de Louis-le-Grand, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in France. There he acquired a love of literature which led him to baulk at the desire of his superiors to turn him into a teacher of theology, and he eventually left the Jesuits in 1695. Supported by influential patrons, he became a member of the Académie royal des Inscriptions et Médailles, and, in 1710, Professor of Greek at the Collège royal de France. In 1714 he was elected a member of the Académie française. Afflicted by money worries and health problems in his last years, including cataracts which left him totally blind for a period until he had one eye operated on, he nevertheless continued his scholarly pursuits until his death in 1722 at the age of 57.