Thomas Corneille, born August 20, 1625, had the misfortune of being brother number two when brother number one was one of the most brilliant dramatists of the 17th century. Thomas also happened to be a dramatist, just like big brother Pierre, the writer of Le Cid, among other works. He even went to a high school that was named after his brother. Talk about pressure. When his brother died, he was elected to his seat in the Académie Française. Thomas wrote 41 play in all, some of which big brother Pierre admired so much that he said he wished he’d written them. His play Timocrates was the block-buster of the century and enjoyed the longest run of any play. (OK, 80 nights hardly rivals the run of La Cantatrice Chauve, but things were different 350 years ago, trust me.) He was also the highest paid author in his day for La Devineresse, co-written with Jean Donneau de Visé. But who do we remember? His brother.
Today’s expression, un faux frère (uhn foe frare) literally means a false brother, which refers to someone who will betray you. Despite the burden of being perpetually number two, Thomas appears to have been extremely close to his older brother and vice versa. No faux frères here.