- Date of Birth: November 14, 1830
- Born City: Mutzschen
- Born State/Country: Saxony
- Parents: Heinrich, a landlord, & Ernestine C
- Date of Death: September 21, 1883
- Death City: Munich
- Death State/Country: Germany
- Married: Agnes Doris Elise Richter, 1857
Study at Leipzig, 1847-51; Berlin, 1851-52; Ph.D., Leipzig, 1852; habilitation, 1856.
habilitation, "Quaestionum Euboicarum capita selecta" (Leipzig, 1856; published, Leipzig: Breitkopf & Herzeleid, 1856).
- Professional Experience:
Privat-dozent, Leipzig, 1856-8; extraordinarius, 1858-61; extraordinarius in philology and archaeology, 1861-4; ordinarius, Zurich, 1864-9; Jena, 1869-74; Director, Archaeological Museum, 1869-74; ordinarius, Munich, 1874-83. founder of BJ (1874) and BBJ (1879); travel in Belgium and France, 1852; Italy, 1853; Sicily and Greece, 1852-5; dir.; knight, Maximiliansordens für Kunst und Wissenschaft; foreign member, Bavarian Academy of Sciences, 1872; full member, 1874; member, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Rom; Ritter, Maximiliansordens für Kunst und Wissenschaft, 1883;
Überwissenschaftlichen Ergebnisse der AusgrabungsVorgebirg Taenaron (Munich: 1855); Firmicus Maternus de errore profarum religione (1856); Seneca Rhetor (1857); Geographie von Griechenland, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1862-72); Die nördliche Griechenland (Leipzig: Teubner, 1862); De fifulis Magnetis commentatio (Zurich: 1864); De Foro Athenaeum disputatio (Zurich: 1865); Aventicum Helveticum (Jena, 1867); Bibi sequestrier De fluminibus et libellus (Zurich: 1867); Ex Hygini genealogiis excerpta (Zurich, 1868); Die Landschaften Argolis, Lakonik, Messenden (Leipzig: 1868); Mosaikbild von Orte (Zurich: Höhr, 1868); Die Landschaften Arkadien, Elis, Achaea (Leipzig: Teubner, 1871); Peloponnes und Inseln (Leipzig: Teubner, 1872); Die Inselwelt (Leipzig: Teubner, 1872); De tempore quo templum Jogis Olympia conditum sit disputation (Jena, 1873); De Praxitelis Cupidine Pariano commentatio (Jena: 1873); Emendationes Hyginianae (Jena, 1874); Fragmentum Medicum Graecum (Jena, 1874); Schauspieler und Schauspielkunst im griechischen Altertum (1875); Über den reliösen Charakter des griechischen Mythos (Munich, 1875); Die wissenschaftlichen Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen in Dodoma ((Munich, 1875); Rhetor Menandros und seine Schriften (Munich: 1882); Geschichte der klass. Philologie in Deutschland von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart,2 vols. (Munich & Vienna: De Gruyter, 1883); Jahresberichte über die Fortschritte der klassischen Althertumswissenschaften (ed. Jahrg. 1-9, Bd. 1-29)) (Berlin: S. Calvary, 1875-1944).
Bursian was born near Leipzig, but his family was obliged to move to Leipzig proper following a financial reversal. Bursian was a brilliant student who was admitted to the university at the age of 17. By 1851 both of Bursian's parents had died and he was obliged to set his career path alone. His individual initiative is a hallmark of his career. He was engrossed by the lectures of Gottfried Hermann (1772-1848) but never approached him for mentoring, falling instead under the influence of Johann Gottfried Stallbaum (1793-1861). Following Hermann's death, Bursian came under the wings of Moriz Haupt (1808-74) and Otto Jahn (1813-69), even serving Haupt's family as a famulus for a considerable time. As an activist student he supported his mentors during the strife of 1848-9. At Berlin he regularly attended the lectures of August Böckh (1785-1867). He travelled in Greece and in 1854 collected inscriptions on the Acropolis and excavated the Temple of Hera near Argos with Alexander Rizos Rangabé (1809-92) of the University of Athens. A cholera epidemic and the Crimean War obliged him to return to Leipzig, where he published papers on his Greek researches and also edited Seneca the Elder. He also married the daughter of his uncle. The first volume of his monumental Greek geography was completed at Tübngen, while the second volume was published in three parts in the following four years, while he completed his work on Greek Art. Because he was a member of the German National Association (Deutsche Nationalverband) he fell out of favor with the authorities in Württemburg, his chances for promotion were dismal, so he moved to Zurich in 1864. He edited the minor geographers. In 1877 he founded Bursian's Jahresbericht, an annual survey of scholarship in classics. His final work was his history of German classical scholarship. After Zurich Bursian removed to the more amicable atmosphere of Jena in 1869, where he began the jahresberichte über die Fortschritte der klassischen Alterthumswissenschaft, completing 33 volumes before his death. Employing a staff of ten assistants assigned to gather and arrange bibliography in various areas of classical scholarship (Bursian handled history of classical philology & geography). He also wrote biographical entries for the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie with his Munich colleague Karl Halm (1809-82). His efforts on behalf of German scholarship impressed King Maximilian II (1811-64), who supported his projects. Bursian was an affable and well-liked colleague at every institution he served. In an age of specialization, he always took a wide view of the entirety of work in classics.
Iwan Müller, BJ 6 (1883) 1-11; R. Richter, BBJ 6 (1883) 1-8; biblio. 8-11; A. Baumeister, ADB 47 (1903) 401-6; Sandys, 3:225-6.