Pierre Corneille studied law and then entered the Rouen parliament in 1629. He would serve as the king’s counselor in the local office of the department of waterways and forests for twenty-one years, and, remarkably, he still found the time to write twenty plays during this period. After his retirement from the legal profession, he would write twelve more. Although Corneille is considered by most critics to be the father of French tragedy, six of his first eight plays were comedies. His first play, MÉLITE, was presented by a strolling troupe that happened through Rouen in 1629. He followed this initial offering with a series of comedies and tragicomedies, including CLITANDRE (1631), LA VEUVE or THE WIDOW (1632), LA GALERIE DU PALAIS or THE PALACE CORRIDOR (1633), LA SUIVANTE or THE MAIDSERVANT (1634), LA PLACE ROYAL (1634), and L’ILLUSION COMIQUE (1636). The playwright soon began to experiment with the tragic form and the result was the well-received: MÉDÉE (1635). Then, in 1637, Corneille stunned the French theatre with his first masterpiece: LE CID (1637), based on the life of an eleventh century Spanish hero. He quickly produced a string of tragedies that secured him a place in theatre history. The first of these masterworks, HORACE (1640), dramatizes the conflict of families divided by duty during a war between the ancient Romans and their Alban neighbors. Corneille followed this success with CINNA (1641), which tells the story of a conspiracy against the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar, who outwits his potential murderers by granting them a political pardon rather than attempting to have them executed as they expect, thus proving that he has strength enough to be merciful. And finally, POLYEUCTE (1643), considered by some critics to be Corneille’s greatest work, tells the story of a born-again Christian who finds that his wife is in love with another man. In 1643, Corneille also achieved a remarkable success with a comedy of intrigue, LE MENTEUR or THE LIAR. In 1647, Corneille moved with his family to Paris and was admitted to the Académie Francaise.