All Scholars

CLASSEN, Johannes

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  • Date of Birth: November 21, 1805
  • Born City: Hamburg
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Parents: Gregor Friedrich, a coffee broker, & Catherine Maria Wetegrove C.
  • Date of Death: June 31, 1891
  • Death City: Hamburg
  • Death State/Country: Germany
  • Married: Johanna Caroline Wattenbach, 1834.
  • Education:

    Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums, Hamburg, 1820-4; akademische Gymnasium, 1824-5; study at Leipzig 1825, Bonn 1826-9; travel in Leyden & Paris, 1728; Ph.D., Bonn, 1829; Kiel 1831.

  • Dissertation:

    De Grammaticae Graecae Primordiis (Bonn, 1829).

  • Professional Experience:

    Private lecturer, Kiel, 1831-2; Asst., Joachimsthalsche Gymnasium, Berlin, 1832-3; Prof., Katharineum, Lübeck, 1833-53, director, gymnasium, Frankfurt am Main, 1853-64; president, Frankfurter Philologenversammlung, 1861; director, Johanneum, Hamburg, 1864-74.

  • Publications:

    Sanchuniaton’s phönizische Geschichte. Nach der Griechischen Bearbeitung des Philo von Byblos ins Deutsche übersetzt (Lübeck, 1837); Über das Leben und die Schriften des Dicheters Johann Laurenberg (Lübeck, 1841); Über eine hervorstechende Eigenthümlichkeit der griechischen Sprache(Lübeck, 1850); Symbolae criticae I-III (Frankfurt am Main, 1859-63); Über die beziehungen Melanchthons zu Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt am Main, 1860); “Zur Geschichte des Wortes Natur,” Festschrift d. Senckenberg. Stiftung zu Frankfurt a. M. an dem Tage ihres einhundertjährigen Bestandes gewidmet (Frankfurt am Main, 1863); Beobachtungen über die homerische Sprachgebrauch (1867) Thucydides, 8 vols. (1862-78); edition of Pro Cluentio (1833) Friedrich Jacob, Director des Catharineums in Lübeck, in seinem Leben und Wirken dargestellt (Jena, 1855); Jacob Micyllus, Rektor zu Frankfurt am Main 1524-1533 und 1537-1547, als Schulmann, Dichter und Gelehrter (Frankfurt am Main,1859); Barthold Georg Niebuhr, eine Gedächtnisschrift zu seinem hundertjährigen Geburtstage, den 27. August 1876 (Gotha, 1876).

  • Notes:

             Classen spent his career as a schoolteacher, in Wilamowitz’s words, “an amiable and venerable pedagogue. He was trained at Leipzig under Gottfried Hermann and Christian Daniel Beck (1757-1832) and at Bonn with Karl Friedrich Heinrich (1774-1838), F.G. Welcker (1784-1868), A.F. Naeke (1788-1838).  Barthold Georg Niebuhr (1776-1831), who enlisted Classen’s help with his contributions to Immanuel Bekker’s (1785-1871) 25-volume edition of the Byzantine historians, "Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae." Classen became close with Niebuhr and moved into his house in Easter 1827, the easier to tutor Niebuhr’s son, Marcus.  Niebuhr’s house burned down in 1830 but his manuscripts and books were largely saved, salvaging notes and manuscripts for the third volume of Niebuhr’s History. When Niebuhr died the next year at the age of 54 (and his wife nine days later), Classen not only saw to his papers, but he also took in charge Marcus and his two sisters. He moved with them to Berlin, where he was an assistant at a gymnasium, and with the encouragement of F.C. von Savigny (1779-1861) completed Niebuhr’s third volume in 1832. In the next year he moved to Lübeck where Classen would teach German, Greek, and history for the next two decades. Here he became close friends with the Lübeck director and editor of Propertius Johann Friedrich Jacob (1792-1854), the historian Wilhelm Wattenbach (1819-97), Ernst Curtius (1814-96) and Georg Curtius (1820-85) and the playwright Emmanuel Geibel (1815-84) and began in earnest his study of the Greek language. In 1853 he moved to direct the Gymnasium in Frankfurt am Main where he would spend the next decade, reforming the examination system. He wrote biographies of his friend Jacob (1855) and the Renaissance humanist and teacher in Frankfurt, Jacob Micyllus (1503-58). In 1864 he returned to his hometown to direct the Johanneum. At age 70 he wrote a memoir of Niebuhr (1876). From 1864 he was patriarchal head of the Johanneum in Hamburg, until he gave way to new currents in 1874; Following his departure, he devoted himself to his eight-volume Thucydides Commentary (1862-78, 1879). Wilamowitz praised his work on Homeric usage as “some of the finest studies of their kind,” but declared that “Thucydides was the wrong subject for Classen,” although Sandys called his edition “excellent.”

  • Sources:

    Bibliography

    Wolfgang Meyer, Aus d. Abiturientenmatrikel d. Johanneums 1804 bis 1827 (Frankfurt am Main, 1906) 43ff.

    Autobiography in Programm der Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums (1875); Wilamowitz, 148; BBJ, 1905 19-33. Sandys, 3.159-60; C. Bursian, Geschichte der klassische Philologie in Deutschland(1883); H. Bubendey, BBJ 28 (1905) 19-22; E, Kelter, Hamburg und sein Johanneum (1928) 164-7..

  • Author: Ward Briggs