North American Scholar

LOEB, James Morris

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1867-08-06
  • Born City: New York
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: Solomon & Betty Gallenberg L.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1933-05-27
  • Death City: Murnau
  • Death State/Country: Germany
  • Married: Marie Antonie Schmidt Hambuechen, 22 May 1921.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1888; Ph.D. (hon.) Munich, 1923; LL.D. Cambridge, 1925.

  • Professional Experience:

    Mem. Kuhn, Loeb & Co., bankers, NY, 1888-1901; retired, 1901; endowed C.E. Norton Travelling Fellowship, 1902; founder, Am. Inst. Musical Art, NY, 1905; trustee, ASCSA, 1909-30; founder, LCL, 1912.

  • Publications:

    Paul Delcharme, Euripides and the Spirit of His Dramas (trans.) (New York & London, 1906); Maurice Croiset, Aristophanes and the Political Parties at Athens (trans.) (London, 1909); Die Bronzen der Sammlung Loeb, ed. Johannes Sieveking, intro. Loeb (Munich, 1913); Die Terrakotten der Sammlung Loeb ed. Sieveking, intro. Loeb, 2 vols. (Munich, 1916); Phillippe E. Legrand, The New Greek Comedy (trans.) (New York & London, 1917); Bronzen, Terrakotten, Vasen der Sammlung Loeb, ed. Sieveking (intro.) (Munich, 1930); Auguste Couat, Alexandrian Poetry under the First Three Ptolemies, 324-222 B.C. (trans.) (London & New York, 1931).

  • Notes:

    James Loeb was the greatest benefactor of American classics and its most dramatic victim of antisemitism. He was related through a sister to Aby Warburg, the benefactor of art history. Loeb learned Greek and Latin at Julius Sachs' Collegiate Institute in New York and studied at Harvard, where his decisive teachers were John Williams White and Charles Eliot Norton. His courses there in business and economics he later dismissed as a waste of time. Norton with magnanimous candor convinced him not to undertake graduate study in classics, since, as a Jew, Loeb had no chance for a career. This advice was later confirmed when Harvard, unlike Cambridge and Munich, refused one of its most generous alumni an honorary degree. After an unsatisfying career at the family firm, he retired to begin the career of a Maecenas. For reasons now unclear, he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1905 and allegedly on the advice of Freud by 1906 was at Munich under the care of Emil Kraepelin. He was subject lifelong to recurrent depression. That year he built his estate Hochried at Mirnau where he would live as a recluse devoting his remaining life to art, music, philanthropy and scholarship, what he called "res dulciores et humaniores.'' He translated four French books on Greek literature into English. In 1912, alarmed by the rising neglect of the Greek and Latin authors, Loeb established, at the suggestion of Salomon Reinach and advised by Wilamowitz, the Loeb Classical Library, which in his words was "to include all that is of value and of interest in Greek and Latin literature from the time of Homer to the Fall of Constantinople." This is his most lasting memorial. By 1990 there were 473 volumes and numerous revised reprints. In his will Loeb left generous bequests to the American School (this eased purchase of the Athenian Agora), the Loeb Library, and the Harvard Classics Department. He endowed the Norton Lectureship for the Archaeological Institute of America. His collection of Greek vases, bronzes, jewelry and terracottas went to Munich and may be seen in the Glyptothek there today. He was a shy, enigmatic, sensitive, modest aristocrat. In 1927 the city of Munich presented him with a gold medal that bore his portrait and the inscription: "vir hum. Iacobus Loeb artium et literarum cultor fautor conservator pauperum patronus dignitatis honestae probitat. modestae exemplar.”  There could not be a finer or a more sincere epitaph

  • Sources:

    W. M. Calder III, "Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff to James Loeb: Two Unpublished Letters," ICS 2 (1977) 315-32 = Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Selected Correspondence 1869-1931, ed. W. M. Calder III, Antiqua 23 (Naples, 1983) 213-30, 308; George H. Chase, A Guide to the Loeb Collection of Arretine Pottery in the Fogg Museum of Art (Cambridge, 1908); Ron Chernow, The Warburgs: A Family Saga (London, 1993), 76-80; Festschrift fur James Loeb zum sechzigsten Geburtstag gewidmet von seinen archäologischen Freunden in Deutschland und Amerika (Munich, 1930); Friedrich Wilhelm Hamdorf, James Loeb Mäzen von Beruf (Munich, 1983); James Loeb, Our Father (Hochried, 1929); "The Loeb Classical Library: A Word about its Purpose and its Scope," in St. Augustine's Confessions with an English Translation by William Watts, 1631 I (London & New York, 1912) i-vii; NatCAB 100:73-4; NYTimes (29 May 1933) 13; Ashton Rollins Sanborn, DAB Suppl. 1:503-4; Paul Shorey, "The Loeb Classics," Harvard Graduates Magazine 36, no. 143 (March 1928) 333-43; Times (London) (2 June 1933) 19; Klaus Vierneisel, 50 Jahre Vermächtnis James Loeb (Munich, 1983); Frieda Schiff Warburg, Reminiscences of a Long Life (New York, 1956) 19-20; WhAm 1:740.Letters: A most revealing autobiographical document is a letter of Loeb published in F.W. Kelsey, ed., Latin and Greek in American Education (New York, 1911) 211-7. Two Letters of Norton to Loeb are published in Sara Norton and M. A. De Wolfe Howe, Letters of Charles Eliot Norton with Biographical Comment (Boston & New York, 1913) 2:375-6, 389-90.

  • Author: William M. Calder III