• Date of Birth: July 6, 1808
  • Born City: Treptow, Pomerania
  • Born State/Country: Poland
  • Parents: Johann Christoph, a preacher, & Friederike Casting D.
  • Date of Death: June 19, 1884
  • Death City: Berlin
  • Death State/Country: Germany
  • Married: Marie Mendel, 1835; Emma Michaelis, 1849.
  • Education:

    Study at Berlin, 1826-9, Ph.D., 1831; Habil., 1833.

  • Professional Experience:

    Privatdozent, Berlin, 1833-40; teacher, Gymnasium zum Grauen, 1829-40; prof. ord. (history), Kiel, 1840-51; member, Frankfurt Parliament, 1848-9; prof. ord., Jena, 1851-9; Berlin, 1859-84. 

  • Publications:

    Des Aischylos Werke, 2 vols. (1832); Geschichte Alexanders des Grossen (1833; Eng. trans. The History of Alexander the Great, trans. F. Kimmich2012); Des Aristophanes Werke, 3 vols. (1835-8); Geschichte des Hellenismus, Vol. 1:Geschichte der Nachfolger Alexanders; Vol. 2: Geschichte der Bildung des hellenistischen Staatensystems (1836-1843); Vorlesungen über das Zeitalter der Freiheitskriege, 2 vols. (1846); Die Verhandlungen des Verfassungs- Ausschusses der deutschen Nationalversammlung, Vol. 1 (1849); Das Leben des Feldmarschalls Grafen York von Wartenburg, 3 vols. (1851-2); Geschichte der Preussischen Politik, 14 vols. (1855-86); Grundriss der Historik (1868; Eng. trans.: Outline of the Principles of History, trans. E. B. Andrews1893); Geschichte des Hellenismus, Vol. 1: Geschichte Alexanders des Grossen; Vol. 2: Geschichte der Diadochen; Vol. 3: Geschichte der Epigonen (1877-8); Kleine Schriften zur Alten Geschichte, ed. E. Hübner, 2 vols. (1893-4); Aktenstücke und Aufzeichnungen zur Geschichte der Frankfurter Nationalversammlung, ed. R. Hübner (1924);  Briefwechsel, ed. R. Hübner, 2 vols. (1929); Politische Schriften, ed. F. Gilbert (1931); Historik. Vorlesungen über Enzyklopädie und Methodologie der Geschichte, ed. R. Hübner (1937); Historik. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, Vol. 1: Rekonstruktion der ersten vollstandigen Fassung der Vorlesungen (1857), Grundriss der Historik in der ersten handschriftlichen(1857-8) und in der letzten gedruckten Fassung (1882), ed. P. Leyh (1977); Historik. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, Vol. 2: Texte im Umkreis der Historik, ed. H. W. Blanke (2007).

  • Notes:

    At Berlin Droysen encountered August Böckh and the philosophy of Hegel which formed his attention to both the real and the hypothetical. Elected a member of Siebzehnerausschuss (“Committee of Seventeen”) by the Schleswig-Holstein government meeting in Frankfurt. He had a particular interest in the history of Prussia. As a member of parliament he supported the Prussian government. He studied Prussian history at Jena and added an historical perspective to the introductions to his translations of Aeschylus which ran to four editions and Aristophanes, which ran to three. At the age of 25 he produced his history of Alexander the Great (1833) in which he broke with the accepted view of Niebuhr and others that Phillip of Macedon’s victory at Chaeronea meant the end of Greek self-rule; for Droysen it meant not only an expansion of Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean but also a unity that was impossible in the age of city-states. Though hampered by a lack of an extended history of the period from ancient sources, he showed how Greece reached the height of its power. He continued with a second volume on the post-Alexander period. When he came to prepare a second edition, he expanded the work to three volumes called “History of Hellenism.”  He also found paleographical evidence that proved the citations in Demosthenes’ On the Crown to be spurious. Wilamowitz called him “The first mature historian of Greece in Germany.” His failure to complete the history to the end of the period led to the downplaying of influence of the Hellenistic period on Rome. He also wrote on the Athenian period and coinage and was a dynamic lecturer.

  • Sources:

    Max Duncker, BBJ (1884) 110-18; Giesebrecht, München Akad. (1885) 208-19; Sandys, 3:230-1; Wilamowitz, 154; B. Bravo, Philologie, histoire, philosophie de l’histoire. Étude sur J. G. Droysen, historien de l’antiquité (1968); J. Rusen, Begriffene Geschichte. Genesis und Begriindung der Geschichtstheorie J. G. Droysens (1969); A.D. Momigliano, “J. G. Droysen. Between Greeks and Jews,” in History and Theory 9 (1970) 139-53; C. Wagner, Die Entwicklung Johann Gustav Droysens als Althistoriker (1991); W. Nippel, “Hellenismus von Droysen bis Harnack oderInterdisziplinare Missverstandnisse,” in Adolf von Harnack. Christentum, Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft, ed. K. Nowak et al. (2003)15-28; Johann Gustav Droysen, 1808-1884. Philologe, Historiker, Politiker, ed. C. Hackel (2008); Johann Gustav Droysen. Ein Leben zwischen Wissenschaft und Politik (2008); Historie und Historik. 200 Jahre Johann Gustav Droysen, ed. H.W. Blanke (2009); W. Nippel, Johann Gustav Droysen. Facetten eines Historikers, ed. K. Ries (2010); W. Nippel, Brill, 164-5.

  • Author: Ward Briggs