North American Scholar

JAEGER, Werner Wilhelm

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1888-07-30
  • Born City: Lobberich
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Parents: Karl August, a textile factory manager, & Helene Birschel J.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1961-10-19
  • Death City: Boston
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Married: Theodora Dammholz, 28 Mar. 1914; Ruth Heinitz, 29 Dec. 1931.
  • Education:

    Marburg, 1907, Ph.D. Berlin, 1911; Litt.D. Manchester, 1926; Cambridge, 1931; Harvard, 1936; D. Hum. Litt. Kenyon Coll., 1948; D. Phil. U. Athens, 1958; Salonica, 1952; Tübingen, 1957; Swarthmore, 1961.

  • Professional Experience:

    Privatdozent U. Berlin, 1913-4; o. prof. Basel, 1914-5; Kiel, 1915-21; Berlin, 1921-36; prof. Gk. & anc. philos. U. Chicago, 1936-9; univ. prof. Harvard, 1939-59; fell, academies of sciences at Berlin, Erfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, Bologna, Lund; Royal Swedish Acad.; member AAAS; APhS; Sather prof., 1934; Gifford lctr. (St. Andrews), 1936; international prize in philos., Academia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, 1955; Commander's Cross of Order of Holy Savior (Greece), 1929; Ehrenmedaille der Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft, 1929; Ordre pour le Mérite, 1955; Order of King George (Greece), 1958; prize for Disting. Accomplishment in Hum. Schol., ACLS, 1961; founder & editor, Die Antike, 1924-35; ed. Corpus Medicorum Graecorum; founder & mem. ed. bd. Gnomon, 1924-38.

  • Dissertation:

    "Emendationum Aristotelearum Specimen" (Berlin, 1911 = Scripta Minora 1:1-38); printed in expanded form as Studien zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Metaphysik des Aristoteles (Berlin, 1912).

  • Publications:

    Aristotelis de animalium motione et de animalium incessu, Pseudo-Aristotelis de spiritu libellus (Leipzig, 1913); Nemesios von Emesa. Quellenforschungen zum Neuplatonismus und seinen Anfängen bei Poseidonios (Berlin, 1914); Gregorii Nysseni Opera I: Contra Eunomium libri Pars Prior Liber I et II (Vulgo I et XIIb) (Berlin, 1921); Gregorii Nysseni Opera II: Contra Eunomium libri Pars Altera Liber III (Vulgo III-XII); Refutatio Confessionis Eunomii (Vulgo II) (Berlin, 1921; 2d ed., 1960); Aristoteles: Grundlegung einer Geschichte seiner Entwicklung (Berlin, 1923); Das Problem des Klassischen und die Antike (ed.) (Leipzig & Berlin, 1931; repr. Darmstadt, 1961); Paideia: Die Formung des griechischen Menschen, 3 vols. (Leipzig & Berlin, 1934-47; 3d ed., 1954-5); Aristotle: Fundamentals of the History of His Development, trans. Richard Robinson (Oxford, 1934; 2d ed., 1948); Humanistische Reden und Vorträge (Leipzig & Berlin, 1937; 2d ed., 1960); Demosthenes: The Origin and Growth of His Policy, trans. Edward S. Robinson (Berkeley, 1938); Diokles von Karystos: Die griechische Medizin und die Schule des Aristoteles (Berlin, 1938; 2d ed., 1963); Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, trans. Gilbert Highet, vol. I (New York & Oxford, 1939; 2d ed., 1945); vol. II: In Search of the Divine Centre (New York & Oxford, 1943); Vol. III: The Conflict of Cultural Ideals in the Age of Plato (New York & Oxford, 1944); The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers, trans. Edward S. Robinson (Oxford, 1947; 2d ed., 1948; 3d ed., 1960); Gregorii Nysseni Opera VIII. 1: Opera Ascetica De instituto Christiano, De professione Christiana, De perfectione (ed. with Johannes P. Cavarnos & Virginia Woods Callahan (Leiden, 1952); Two Rediscovered Works of Ancient Christian Literature: Gregory of Nyssa and Macarius (Leiden, 1954); Aristotelis Metaphysica (ed.) (Oxford, 1957); Scripta Minora I—II (Rome, 1960); Early Christianity and Greek Paideia (Cambridge, 1961). Kleine Schriften: Humanistische Reden und Vorträge, 2d ed. (1960); Scripta Minora, 2 vols. (1960). Not included is: "Die Erziehung des politischen Menschen und die Antike," Das Volk im Werden 1 (1933) 43-8. Bibliography: H. Bloch, "Bibliography of Werner Jaeger," in W. Jaeger, Five Essays, trans. Adele M. Fiske, R.S.C.J. (Montreal, 1966) 143-65.

  • Notes:

    Werner Jaeger, author of pioneer studies of Aristotle's development, of synthetic interpretive works on Greek culture, and of a monumental critical edition of the Greek Church father Gregory of Nyssa, was, it is generally agreed, the most influential classical scholar in Germany during the period between the world wars and in America thereafter. At Berlin he studied under Hermann Diels, Adolf Lasson, Eduard Meyer, Eduard Norden, Wilhelm Schulze, Johannes Vahlen, and, above all, the master of the field, Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, as well as under the theologians Adolf von Harnack and Karl Holl, combining an interest from the very beginning in philology, history, philosophy, and theology. His doctoral dissertation clarified the kind of work which Aristotle's Metaphysics is— non-literary, esoteric, intended for the school and not for publication. In 1923 this interpretation was extended into a book covering almost the entire corpus of Aristotle's writing and tracing Aristotle's gradual intellectual development from his student years under Plato. In particular Jaeger reconstructed the lost dialogues of Aristotle, which belonged to that early period when Aristotle was under the influence of Plato; and Aristotle now emerged as a Platonist who had only gradually moved away from the philosophic views of his teacher. After holding the chair of Nietzsche at Basel and teaching for six years at Kiel, Jaeger was appointed at the age of 33 to the chair held by his great teacher Wilamowitz. While he was teaching at Berlin, it is fair to say that he was the most influential classics professor in Germany. Among his outstanding pupils were Harald Fuchs, Richard Harder, Hermann Langerbeck, Wolfgang Schadewaldt, Friedrich Solmsen, and Richard Walzer. After a failed attempt to live with National Socialism, in 1936 Jaeger came to the conclusion that life under Hitler was unbearable (one major ingredient in this decision was the fact that his wife was part-Jewish and he had either to divorce her or be fired) and accepted a professorship at Chicago to succeed Paul Shorey. The most important synthetic work which emerged from his years in Berlin was the first volume of Paideia, where he presented Greek culture in romantic, heroic terms. This work, according to Jaeger himself, was motivated by the crisis which he felt was facing the humanistic-cultural tradition of his day. For Jaeger paideia was the synthesis of thought and values, of poetry and philosophy, of history and action. He portrayed Greek paideia as an aristocratic, educational, humanistic idea. "Other nations," he said, "made gods, kings, spirits; the Greeks alone made men." It was his deepfelt belief that the Promethean urge to fashion men had its origins in Greek antiquity and that it remains the source of all classical scholarship. But his vast and sweeping generalizations always grew out of minutely comprehended texts, long passages of which he had committed to memory. Jaeger was not interested in the history of philosophic systems (as was Zeller, for example), but in the history of ideas. He treated Greek philosophy in the context of its historical setting, and in its relation to science, religion, education, law, and politics. Though Paideia was regarded during his lifetime as Jaeger's magnum opus, Jaeger himself devoted his energies, especially during his last years, to presenting a new edition, in effect an editio princeps so far as scholarship was concerned, of Gregory of Nyssa, in the belief that the Greek Church fathers, notably Gregory, continued directly the Greek tradition of paideia—a thesis which he pursued in his last book. Jaeger's interest in Christian paideia had started with the publication of his Nemesios von Emesa in 1914, which deals with the adoption of the Greek scientific tradition in a framework of Christian anthropology. Indeed, Jaeger saw a direct line of continuity from the pre-Socratics to the origins of the Platonic-Christian philosophy of the Greek Church fathers.

  • Sources:

    William M. Calder III. "Werner Jaeger," Classical Scholarship: A Biographical Encyclopedia, ed. W. W. Briggs & W. M. Calder III (New York & London, 1990) 211-26; idem, "The Correspondence of Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff with Werner Jaeger," HSCP 82 (1978) 303-347 = Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Selected Correspondence 1869-1831, ed. William M. Calder III, Antiqua 23 (Naples,1983) 167-211; idem, "The Credo of a New Generation: Paul Friedländer to Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff," Antike und Abendland 26 (1980) 90-102 = Selected Correspondence, 127-39; idem, "Werner W. Jaeger," DAB Suppl. 7: 387-9 = idem, Studies in the Modern History of Classical Scholarship, Antiqua 27 (Naples, 1984) 55-7; idem, "Werner Jaeger and Richard Harder: An Erklärung," Quaderni di storia 17 (1983) 99-121 = Studies in the Modern History of Classical Scholarship, 59-81; idem, Werner Jaeger Reconsidered (ed.) ICS Suppl. 3 (Atlanta, 1992); J. H. Fin-ley, CJ 58 (1963-4) 94-5; Hadwig Hörner, "Über Genese und derzeitigen Stand der großen Edition der Werke Gregors von Nyssa," Écriture et culture philosophique dans la Penseée de Grégoire de Nysse. Actes du colloque de Chevetogne (22-26 septembre 1969), ed. M. Harl (Leiden 1971) 18-50; Uvo Hölscher, "Angestrengtes Griechentum: Die dritte Wiederkehr des Klassischen / Zu Werner Jaegers 100. Geburtstag," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30 July 1988 (Feuilleton); Johannes Irmscher, "Die klassische Altertumswissenschaft in der faschistischen Wissenschaftspolitik," Altertumswissenschaften und ideologischer Klassenkampf, ed. Horst Gericke, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg; Wissenschaftliche Beiträge 35 (1980) (Halle, 1980) 75-97; W. Jaeger, "Zur Einführung." Scripta Minora I (Rome, 1960), ix-xxviii; Arnaldo Momigliano, Studies in Historiography (London, 1966), 252-3; NatCAB 47:40; Clara Claiborne Park, "At Home in History: Werner Jaeger's Paideia," The American Scholar (Summer 1983) 378-85; Wolfgang Schadewaldt, "Gedenkrede auf Werner Jaeger 30. Juli 1888-19. Oktober 1961, Gehalten an der Freien Universität Berlin am 12. Juli 1962," Hellas und Hesperien: Gesammelte Schriften zur Antike und zur neueren Literatur in zwei Bänden, vol. II, ed. Klaus Bartels, Reinhard Thurow, & Ernst Zinn (Zürich & Stuttgart, 1970), 707-22; Bruno Snell, "Rez. Werner Jaeger: Paideia. Die Formung des griechischen Menschen, Bd. I (35)," Gesammelte Schriften (Göttingen, 1966), 32-54; Friedrich Solmsen, "Werner Jaeger," NDB 10 (Berlin, 1974) 280-1; Martin Staehelin, " '. . . bei den Meinigen, nicht immer unter Wildfremden': Hugo von Hofmannsthal in Briefen an Werner Jaeger," Catalepton: Festschrift fur Bernhard Wyss zum 80. Geburtstag, ed. Christoph Schäublin (Basel, 1985), 203-12; WhAm 4:488; Hildegard von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, "Erinnerungen an meinen Vater," in U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, In wieweit befriedigen die Schlüsse der erhaltenen griechischen Trauerspiele? Ein ästhetischer Versuch, ed. by W. M. Calder III (Leiden, 1974), 159-63. Papers: Houghton Library, Harvard. Jaeger's professional library is part of the library of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, D.C. A number of the books contain annotations.

  • Author: Louis H. Feldman