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She published dozens of works on Greek philosophy, language and literature but her lifelong passion was Thucydides, the historian of the Peloponnesian War.
Outside academia she was best known to the French public for touring French schools and giving talks about the culture of ancient Greeks. She was a staunch defender of teaching of humanities in French schools, believing that an understanding of the classics was essential to understanding democracy, the liberty of the individual and the virtue of tolerance. In 1984 she published L'Enseignement en détresse, a book about declining standards in French schools. Her position in the Académie française enabled her to mount a defence of classical languages and literary culture, which she stated "may well be as endangered as the fauna of the oceans or the water of our rivers".
She was horrified by the 1988 vote to simplify aspects of the French language in primary schools and in 1992 she founded an Association for the Defence of Literary Studies. 
De Romilly's two monographs on the ancient Greek historian Thucydides have been credited with "alter[ing] the landscape of Thucydidean scholarship" and "the beginning of a new era". In 2002, Danish classical scholar Anders Holm Rasmussen described her views on Thucydides' ideology of empire as still "one of the most important viewpoints" with which modern scholars can engage. Published first in 1956, her work Histoire et raison chez Thucydide is still in print in the original French today, and was translated into English as The Mind of Thucydides after her death. De Romilly believed that Thucydides's intelligent, reflective approach held lessons relevant to the Europe of today.
In 2016, Rosie Wyles and Edith Hall edited a volume called Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly, a history of pioneering women born between the Renaissance and 1913 who played significant roles in the history of classical scholarship.
De Romilly's father, a philosophy professor, was killed in action in the First World War when De Romilly was only one year old. Her mother was a novelist who published under the name Jeanne Maxime-David.
In 1940 she married Michel de Romilly, a marriage that ended in divorce in the 1970s.
Works published in English translation
De Romilly's work was largely published in French, but some of her works were written in or translated into English:
Thucydides and Athenian Imperialism, translated by P. Thody. Oxford, 1963.
^Webb, Ruth (2016). "Jacqueline de Romilly". In Wyles & Hall (ed.). Women classical scholars : unsealing the fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly'. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 377. ISBN9780198725206.
^Laurent, Régis (2015). An introduction to Aristotle's metaphysics of time : historical research into the mythological and astronomical conceptions that preceded Aristotle's philosophy. Paris: Villegagnons-Plaisance Editions. p. 53. ISBN9782953384611.
^Magnus, Erica W. (2016). "Time, Cognition, and Attic Performance: Tracing a New Approach to Theatre History's "Vexing Question"". In Gross, S.; Ostovich, S. (eds.). Time and Trace: Multidisciplinary Investigations of Temporality. Leiden: Brill.