North American Scholar

PETERSEN, Leiva Constanze

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1912-11-28
  • Born City: Berlin
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Parents: Carl Ernst & Minnie Ida Rauber P.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1992-04-17
  • Death City: Welmar
  • Death State/Country: Germany
  • Education:

    Dr. Phil. Frankfurt-am-Main, 1939.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchr. class. Aabeuraa, Denmark, 1937-38; from collaborator to dir. Hermann Bohlaus Nachfolger Pub. Co., Weimar East Germany, 1939-92; scholar Acad. Scis., Berlin, 1953; recipient, Gold Medal Buchhandle-Borsenverliin, 1977; Vaterland Vesdienstorder Berlin Govt., 1982; mng. Comm. Shakespeare Gesellschaft.

  • Dissertation:

    “Personification in Greek Art” (Frankfurt am Main, 1939).

  • Publications:

    Prosopographia Imperii Romani, saeculi I, II, III, V,3 : N-Ovinia / iteratis curis (ed.) (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1987) 330-484 [REVS: JRA IV 1991 331-335 Raepsaet-Charlier ; Klio LXXIII 1991 350-351 M. von Cieminski]; Prosopographia imperii Romani saec. I, II, III / consilio et auctoritate Academiae scientiarum Berolinensis et Brandenburgensis. 6 / iteratis curis, ed. with Klaus Wachtel (Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 1998) [REVS: Arctos 1998 32 : 301-303 Mika Kajava | Eos 1998 85 (2) 321 Leszek Mrozewicz | Klio 2000 82 (2): 532 Mika Kajava | AC 2000 69: 496-499 Marie-Thérèse Raepsaet-Charlier | Latomus 2001 60 (4): 1037-1038 Jacques Gascou].

    Festschrift: Genio huius loci: Dank an Leiva Petersen, ed. Dorothea Kuhn, Benhard Zeller (Vienna: Böhler, 1982). 
     
  • Notes:

    Leiva Petersen, best known to Roman historians as the editor of the second edition of the Prosopographia Imperii Romani, studied classics, ancient and general history, and archaeology with some of the leading German scholars of the time and her dissertation was directed by Karl Reinhardt. on "Personification in Greek Poetry and Art." In 1939 she began an apprenticeship with one of the leading academic publishers in Germany, Hermann Bohlau's Successors in Weimar. The effects of the war early propelled her into a position of leadership and responsibility. Already in 1943 she became the head of the company, which she continued to lead until her retirement in 1983. Despite the enormous difficulties she had to face in a country ravaged by war, exploited by the Soviet occupation and oppressed by a totalitarian regime, with great personal effort and determination she succeeded in preserving the private status of the Bohlau-Verlag, in increasing its production and in maintaining close contacts with authors and editors as well as sister companies in the West. Some of her most impor­tant accomplishments include the authoritative critical edi­tions of the works of Schiller and Luther and the scientific writings of Goethe; many volumes of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica and the Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte were published under her aegis. In 1951 she accepted an appointment as an independent collaborator at the Academy of Sciences of the DDR in Berlin and assumed responsibility for editing the Prosopographia Imperii Romani (PIR). This work, a lexicon listing sources and bibliography on the careers of all mem­bers of the senatorial and equestrian orders and other important persons from Augustus to the end of the third century CE, like many of the great enterprises of the Berlin Academy (foremost among them CIL and IG), was the result of initiatives taken by Theodor Mommsen. The first edition was published in three volumes in 1897-99. Continu­ing massive increases in prosopographical information, mostly due to epigraphical discoveries, made a second edi­tion indispensable. It was begun in 1933 by E. Groag and A. Stein; by 1943, when Stein died, three volumes had appeared, covering the letters A-F. From 1951 until 1972, Dr. Petersen was officially in charge of the PIR; even after 1972, she was its de facto director. Assisted only by a part-time aide and two young colleagues, who were prevented by various collective research projects imposed on them "from above" from spending more than minimal time on the lexi­con, she painstakingly collected the new data on "her Romans" from recent publications and entered them on the margins of, or on loose leaves inserted in, the pages of the first edition. Her sources were provided, despite large gaps in western publications, by the library of the Academy in Berlin, where she spent as many days as she could spare from her publisher's job in Weimar, and increasingly by books and offprints sent her by colleagues and friends in the West (among these, Hans-Georg Pflaum, Sir Ronald Syme, and Werner Eck were especially generous with help and advice). Taking the collected data home to Weimar, Dr. Petersen spent evenings and weekends composing the Latin entries to the PIR, thus bringing out, in slow but steady pro­gression, one fascicule after another. The last one to appear (vol. V.3 in 1987, N-Ovinia) still lists her as editor, and the next, large volume on P will owe much to her preparation.Besides this self-sacrificing work on the PIR, Dr. Peter­sen published numerous articles and prosopographical studies and was a widely read and well-informed partner for discussions with many scholars who appreciated her insights and enjoyed her friendship and hospitality. Her accomplish­ments as a publisher and scholar were honored by numerous distinctions and awards, including the Schiller Medal of the University of Jena (1976), the Leibniz Medal of the Academy of Sciences of the DDR (1980), the Golden Medal of the Goethe Society (1982) and the newly estab­lished Reuchlin Prize of the city of Pforzheim (1986).When Dr. Petersen was finally able to extricate herself from her responsibilities with Bohlau, she hoped to spend many productive years focusing on the PIR. A series of illnesses in the last years of her life thwarted this plan. Thanks to her efforts and determination, however, the pro­ject is now in good hands, to be continued in the re-founded Berlin Academy and directed by her long-time collaborator. Dr. Klaus Wachtel. The scholarly world owes her a great debt of gratitude and respect, and those who were privileged to know her personally will remember her as a most generous and humane friend

  • Sources:

    APA Newsletter (April 1993) 14; IntWhWh, 7 (1984-85) 807; Dieter Nörr, “Leiva Petersen: (28. November 1912-17. April 1992)” ZRG 110 (1993) ix-xiv.

  • Author: Kurt A. Raaflaub