In 1935, while studying law at Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University, Greimas attended lectures by Lev Karsavin on medieval Christian philosophy. He remained fascinated by the Middle Ages throughout his life. Next year, he left for Grenoble, France, to study French philology as taught by Antonin Duraffour. When he returned to France after World War II, he defended, under the supervision of Charles Bruneau, his doctoral thesis on the French vocabulary of fashion in 1830.

In other words, history was a always part of Greimas’ intellectual horizon. Even though he was first and foremost a semiotician, he never disavowed philological labour and his love for the Middle Ages: in 1968 he published the Dictionary of Old French Until the Middle of the 14th Century, in 1992 – the Dictionary of Middle French (together with Teresa Mary Keane).

Greimas in Vilnius, 1979. Photo by Viktoras Kapočius. © Lithuanian Central State Archives.