French scholar Jacqueline de Romilly, 97, a specialist on ancient Greece, a prolific writer, and one of the first women to join the prestigious Académie Française, has died.

Ms. Romilly died Saturday at a hospital in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, her publisher, Bernard de Fallois, said.

President Nicolas Sarkozy called her "a great humanist whose voice we will miss." The scholar was known for her works on ancient Greek literature, tragedy and thought. She wrote several books on ancient historian Thucydides.

At age 91, Ms. Romilly told the French magazine Lire that she had spent more time with "Pericles and Aeschylus than with my contemporaries. They fill my life, from morning to night."

Among female academics in France, she was a pioneer. She was the first woman to teach at the College de France. In 1988, she became the second woman to join the Académie Française, the institution that safeguards the French language, after writer Marguerite Yourcenar.

"I had the luck of being part of a generation where women could get up on the podium for the first time, where the gates opened at last," she told Le Point magazine in 2007.

She was born Jacqueline David in Chartres, southwest of Paris. Her mother was Jeanne Malvoisin, an author, and her father was Maxime David, a philosophy professor who was killed during World War I.

After studies at the Ecole normale superieure and the Sorbonne, she began teaching in high schools in the 1930s. Because her father was Jewish, she was forced to stop teaching during World War II, when France's Vichy regime collaborated with the Nazi occupiers.

She was married and divorced from Michel Worms de Romilly, whose name she took. - AP