North American Scholar

FREDRICKSMEYER, Ernst Adolph

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1930-01-14
  • Born City: Bismarck
  • Born State/Country: ND
  • Parents: Friedrich (Fritz), a Lutheran minister, and Selma F.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2016-01-04
  • Death City: Boulder
  • Death State/Country: CO
  • Married: Gloria, 1957
  • Education:

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  • Professional Experience:

    Intr. Cornell College, 1958-9; instr. Dartmouth, 1959-60; instr. Bryn Mawr, 1960-1; asst. prof. U. Washington, 1961-6; asso. prof. U. Colorado, 1966-71, prof. 1971-98; vis. prof. U. Oregon, 1971; U. Wisconsin, 1978-9; president, CAMWS, 1987-8.

  • Dissertation:

    “The Religion of Alexander the Great” (Wisconsin, 1958).

  • Publications:

    “Three Notes on Alexander's Deification,” AJAH 4 (1979) 1-9; “Observations on Catullus 5,” AJP 91 (1970) 431-45; “Horace, Odes 1.5.16. God or Goddess?,” CP 67 (1972) 124-6; “Catullus 49, Cicero, and Caesar,” CP 68 (1973) 268-78; “Divine Honors for Philip II,” TAPA 109 (1979) 39-61; “Again the So-Called Tomb of Philip II,” AJA 85 (1981) 330-4; “On the Final Aims of Philip II,” in Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Macedonian Heritage, ed. W.L. Adams & E.N. Borza (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982) 85-98; “On the Opening of the Aeneid,” Vergilius 30 (1984) 10-19; “Catullus to Caecilius on Good Poetry (c. 35),” AJP 106 (1985) 213-21; “Structural Perspectives in Aeneid VII,” CJ 80 (1985) 228-37; “Alexander the Great and the Macedonian kausia,” TAPA 116 (1986) 215-27; “Alexander and Philip: Emulation and Resentment,” CJ 85 (1989-90) 300-15; “Alexander, Zeus Ammon, and the Conquest of Asia,” TAPA 121 (1991) 199-214; Method and Interpretation: Catullus 11,” Helios 20 (1993) 89-105; “Horace's Chloe (Odes 1.23): Inamorata or Victim?,” CJ 89 (1993-94) 251-9; “The kausia: Macedonian or Indian?,” in Ventures into Greek History: [Second Australian Symposium on Ancient Macedonian Studies held at the University of Melbourne in July 1991, Dedicated to Professor Nicholas Hammond],  ed. Ian Worthington n (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994) 135-58; “The Origin of Alexander's Royal Insignia,” TAPA 127 (1997) 97-109; “Alexander the Great and the Kingship of Asia,” in Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction, ed. Albert Brian Bosworth and Elizabeth J. Baynham (Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) 136-66; “Alexander’s Religion and Divinity,” Brill’s Companion to Alexander the Great, (Leiden: Brill, 2002) 2563-78.

  • Notes:

    Ernst Fredricksmeyer (né Friedrichsmeyer) spent the first three years of his life in North Dakota, where his father was an exchange Lutheran minister from Germany. The family returned to Germany in 1933 and Ernst grew up in the dark years before and during World War II. To avoid the heavy allied bombing of Germany, Ernst’s Gymnasium was moved to the Austrian Alps when Ernst was 13 years of age. He did not see his parents again until the end of the war in the spring of 1945 when he was 15. He narrowly avoided the fate of his schoolmates who at the age of 16 were deployed against veteran Russian troops on the eastern front.  Ernst and his coevals nevertheless faced their own hardships once they were released from their school in Austria and obliged to fend for themselves. Riding trains, hitchhiking, and doing transient farm work, Ernst finally worked his way back to his German home through a war-torn landscape. He finished his studies at the Gymnasium in 1947 while at the same time working with his lifelong rogue companion Wilfried Gruener on the black market selling cigarettes and other goods.

    Inspired in part by American swing music (banned by the Nazis as “decadent art”) and the dismal German economy, Ernst embarked for the United States in 1948 (before his 18th birthday) alone on an ocean liner out of Bremerhaven, with little money and no knowledge of English.

    After beginning his collegiate work at Lakeland College, he ran out of money. He decided to join the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany in a branch of the Military Police division known as the Special Police.  Once out of the army, Ernst finished college and embarked on graduate study in Madison. There he met the man who would become his closest American friend, the classicist and poet Richard Minadeo, and his future wife of over 50 years, Gloria.   

    Beginning with his dissertation, Ernst showed a particular affinity with Alexander the Great and his father Philip of Macedon. The relations of the father and son interested him especially, as did the location of cults in Greece devoted to the two deified men.  He devoted two articles in part to Alexander’s use of the flat Macedonian hat, the kausia as an emblem of his kingship of Asia.  Love and politics in the poetry of Catullus was also the subject of his research.  At Boulder he was known for his enormously popular Greek mythology class which attracted numerous students to further study of the classics.

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  • Sources:

    DAS 10 (2002) 87; The Daily Camera (Boulder, CO), 17 January 2016.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.