Lead: In 1791 the body of François Marie Arouet was interned in the former church of Saint-Geneviève in Paris. There at the newly designated Panthéon, vast crowds witnessed the homecoming of Voltaire.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Arouet originally intended to pursue a law career. Born of middle-class parents, he received a Jesuit education steeped in the classics. A clever and bright spirit with a powerful sense of humor and keen ability as a poet, despite his youth, he left school at the age of 16. Arouet was soon in great demand in sophisticated Parisian circles. Sometime in 1717 he tossed off a lyrical satire ridiculing the French government, was arrested and spent eleven months in the Bastille. There in prison he wrote his first tragic drama, Oedipe, and produced it the following year under the pseudonym Voltaire. A pronounced success, for its day, the play was a daring examination of unjust destiny with a artfully veiled thrust at organized religion, a subject to which Voltaire would return over and over for the rest of his life.