All Scholars

DINDORF, Karl Wilhelm

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  • Date of Birth: January 2, 1802
  • Born City: Leipzig
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Parents: Gottlieb Immanuel D., professor of Hebrew at Leipzig, & wife.
  • Date of Death: August 1, 1883
  • Death City: Leipzig
  • Death State/Country: Germany
  • Education:

    Study at Thomasschule, Leipzig, 1814-17; Ph.D., Leipzig, 1828.

  • Professional Experience:

    Prof. extraordinarus, Berlin, 1827; prof. extraordinarius, Leipzig, 1828-33; ed.-in-chief, Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, 1833-64; dir., Dresden & Leipzig Railway Co., 1837; memb. Royal Prussian Acad. Sciences,1846.

  • Publications:

    Homeri carmina  2 vols. Leipzig, 1824-5; Latin trans. Paris 1837; repr. until 1939 & 1940; Aristophanis comoediae 2 vols. (1825; 4 vols. Oxford, 1835-63); Demosthenis orationes, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1825; 9 vols. with notes Oxford, 1846-51) Euripidis tragoediae, 2 vols (Leipzig, 1825; 7 vols. with notes Oxford, 1834-63; Sophoclis tragoediae (Leipzig 1825; abridged edits. through 1936; Oxford, 1832, 2 vols., Oxford 1836-52; Latin trans., Paris, 1842); Panegyricus Isocratis (1826);Aeschyli tragoediae (Leipzig 1827; 3 vols. with notes, Oxford: 1841-51); Athenaios, 3 vols. (1827); Horatius ex recensione Bentleii (2 vols. 1827) Poetae scenicae Graeci (Leipzig & Oxford, 1830; 3rded., 1867-9); collaborator, Didot’s ed. of Stephanus’ Thesaurus linguae Graecae, 9 vols., (1831-65); Procopius, 3 vols. (Bonn,1833-8); Ad Sophoclem tragoedias (1836); Mera Aeschyli, Sophoclis, Euripidis, Aristophanis (1842); Lucian (Paris: Didot, 1840); Herodotus (Paris: Didot, 1844); Flavius Josephus 2 vols. (Paris: Didot, 1845-7); Scholia Graeca in Homeri Odysseam, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1855; repr. 1962); Shepherd of Hermas (1856); Nachträgliche Bemerkungen zu Hermas, 3 vols. (1856-9); Uranii De regimine Aegyptorum (1856); Clementis Alexandrini opera, 4 vols. (Oxford, Clarendon, 1869); Lexicon Sophocleum (1871); Scholia Graeca in Homeri Iliadem, 6 vols. (Oxford, Clarendon, 1875-80); Lexicon Aeschyleum (1876).

  • Notes:

    Like his mentors, Christian Daniel Beck (1757-1832) and Gottfried Hermann (1772-1848), Wilhelm Dindorf was born, educated, worked, and died in Leipzig. Dindorf lost his father at the age of ten and by 15 he paid his tuition at Leipzig by correcting Beck’s proofs. His first effort was to complete an edition of Aristophanes begun by Filippo Inverniz[z]i (1797) and continued by Beck (1809-19). Having produced six editions of major authors, he was offered a position at Berlin in 1827, but he returned within a year to Leipzig and there he achieved his doctorate. Following Hermann’s view that classical philology should be focused on the preparation of texts and not on historical studies, Dindorf continued to produce, and make money from, a number of editions of Greek authors. His method was to assemble previous editions, add critical notes and commentary, often copied from previous editors, but very rarely to examine manuscripts afresh or suggest emendations. Wilamowitz says that Dindorf’s work “won him a higher reputation than he deserved. If good materials were at hand he used them, but if not, he managed without, so that his editions vary greatly in value.” Dindorf’s appointment at Leipzig involved no teaching, but he nevertheless assumed that when his mentor Beck died in 1832, he would be considered as his successor. When this did not happen, Dindorf retired from academics and joined his reclusive brother Ludwig August (1805-71) as a private scholar. In 1831 they joined the team working for Didot in producing a new edition of Stephanus’ Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, to which Wilhelm, assisted by Ludwig, contributed the letters Α, Δ, Ζ, Η, Θ, Ι, Κ, Π & Ρ. Wilhelm revised his editions of the dramatists published as Poetae scenici Graeci in 1830 and subsequently published in the Clarendon Press series (1832-63). When Teubner decided to produce a modern edition of classical authors, Dindorf revised his editions of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Demosthenes (Ludwig did Xenophon.) His numerous editions of widely read authors published by Teubner in Leipzig and Didot in Paris ran to numerous editions and made Dindorf so considerable a fortune that in 1837 he was named a director of the Leipzig and Dresden Railway. 

    He edited some Greek Church Fathers and with R. Anger produced the editio princeps of the late second-century Christian allegory The Shepherd of Hermas but in 1856 was deceived by the infamous antiquarian forger Constantine Simonides (1820-90) into accepting his manuscript of “the palimpsest of Uranius” as genuine.

    As Dindorf turned 70, 1871-2 proved disastrous. Throughout his editorial career, he had made free use of the work of others, occasionally overstepping ethical boundaries. His later career was damaged (Wilamowitz says that he “did harm to the reputation of German scholarship”) when in 1871 he completed a Lexicon Sophocleum that was found to have copied unduly from the 1834 lexicon of Friedrich Ellendt (1796-1855), which was being reprinted by the Genthe firm. Dindorf’s version was more concise and easier to use, but after a legal hearing Dindorf’s publisher agreed to withdraw the book from sale. In addition, Ludwig died in 1871 his speculation in the stock market failed and he lost his home and his library in 1872. Dindorf continued his incessant habit of work, compiling a Lexicon of Aeschylus (1873-6) which he based on August Wellauer’s (1798-1830) Lexikon Aeschyleum (1830-2) and editing the Scholia to the Iliad & Odyssey. He produced editions for the major publishers of his time, Clarendon, Didot, and Tauchnitz including, Homer, the dramatists, Herodotus, Lucian, Demosthenes, Aeschines, Isocrates, Harpocration, Clement of Alexandria, Athenaeus, Aristides, Themistius, Epiphanius, Athanasius, and parts of Josephus. 

    Ludwig, so reclusive that Sandys advances the possibility that he did not exist, is credited with editions of Hesiod. Euripides, Thucydides (1824), Diodorus Siculus (1826; Cassius Dio (1863-5); Polybius (1866-8); and all of Xenophon (except the Memorabilia, edited by Wilhelm) (1824-6; 1873-5). 

  • Sources:

    BG, 861-8; BBJ 6 (1883) 112-21; G. Müller, ADB 47 (1903) 705-7; Sandys, 3:144; Wilamowitz144-5. 

  • Author: Ward Briggs