European Scholar

HERMANN, Johann Gottfried Jacob

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1772-11-28
  • Born City: Leipzig
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Parents: Gottfried, a preacher and magister, & Eleonora Sophia Olearius H.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1848-12-31
  • Death City: Leipzig
  • Death State/Country: Germany
  • Married: Wilhelmine Schwagerichen, 1803
  • Education:

    Study at Jena, 1793-4; M.A. 1793; D.phil. habil., 1794

  • Professional Experience:

    Extraordinarius, Leipzig, 1797-1803; Ordinarius of eloquence, 1803-48; prof. poetry, 1809-48; pres. Philological Congress, Dresden, 1844; Knight of the Saxon Civil Service Order; member, Peace Class of the Prussian Order of Merit; Greek Order of the Redeemer; Russian Order of Stanislaus; Academie des Inscriptions et de Belles Lettres of the Institut de France, Paris; founding member & first secretary, Royal Society of Sciences (now Saxon Academy of Sciences), Leipzig, 1846; Prince Jablonowski Society of Sciences.

  • Dissertation:

    “De generibis poeseos” (Leipzig, 1794)

  • Publications:

    Books (University programs included)

    (Op. = Opuscula; see below)

    De fundamento iuris puniendi (Leipzig, 1793 = Op. 1:1-19); De poeseos generibus. (Leipzig, 1794 = Op. 1:20-4); De metris poetarum Graecorum et Latinorum libri III. (Leipzig, 1796); Observationes criticae in quosdam locos Aeschyli et Euripidis.(Leipzig, 1798); Handbuch der Metrik (Leipzig, 1799); De emendenda ratione Graecae grammaticae, I. Accedunt Herodiani aliorumque libelli nunc primum editi, (Leipzig, 1801); Aristotelis de arte poetica liber, cum commentariis [and Latin translation] (Leipzig, 1802); Francisci Vigeri de praecipuis Graecae dictionis idiotismis liber .... (ed.) (Leipzig, 1802; 4th ed., 1834); De differentia prosae et poeticae orationis disputatio, I. II. (Leipzig, 1803 = Op. 1:81-123); Observationes de Graecae linguae dialectis (Leipzig, 1807 = Miscellanea maximam partem critica, ed. F. T. Friedemann & J. D. G. Seebode (Wittenberg, London, Paris, Strasbourg, 1823: 2.2:278ff. = Op. 1:129-47); De dialecto Pindari observationes (Leipzig, 1809; repr. in Pindari carmina,ed. C. G. Heyne (Leipzig, 1817:3.1:21) 0-75 = Op. 1:245-68); De praeceptis quibusdam Atticistarum (Leipzig, 1810 = Miscellanea critica 2.2:278-92 = Op. 1:269-89); De usu antistrophicorum in Graecorum tragoediis (Leipzig, 1810); De argumentis pro antiquitate Orphei Argonauticorum maxime a Koenigsmanno allatis.

    (Leipzig, 1811 = Op. 2:1-17); De Aeschyli Glaucis (Leipzig, 1812 = Op. 2:59-75); De legibus quibusdam subtilioribus sermonis Homerici, I. II (Leipzig, 1812-13 = Miscellanea critica, 2.3:511-41 = Op. 2:18-58); De Aeschyli Persis (Leipzig, 1814 = Op. 2:87-104); De versibus spuriis apud Aeschylum (Leipzig, 1814 = Op. 2:76-86); De metrorum quorundam mensura rhythmica (Leipzig, 1815; repr. in Pindari carmina, ed. C. G. Heyne, Leipzig,1817, 3.1:230-49 = Op. 2:105-23); Elementa doctrinae metricae(Leipzig, 1816); De choro Eumenidum Aeschyli, I. II (Leipzig, 1816 = Op. 2:124-66); De mythologia Graecorum antiquissima(Leipzig, 1817 = Op. 2:167-94); Dissertationes Pindaricae in Pindari carmina, ed. C. G. Heyne (Leipzig, 1817) 3.1:179-410;Über die bestrittene Cäsur im Trimeter der griechischen Komödie ... Beilage zum I. Heft der Analekten (Berlin, 1817); Epitome doctrinae metricae (Leipzig, 1818; 4th ed., 1869); De historiae Graecae primordiis (Leipzig, 1818 = Op. 2:195-216); Briefe über Homer und Hesiodus, vorzüglich über die Theogonie, with Friedrich Creuzer (Heidelberg, 1818); De compositione tetralogiarum tragicarum (Leipzig, 1819 = Op. 2:306-18); De Musis fluvialibus Epicharmi et Eumeli (Leipzig, 1819 = Op. 2:288-305); De Ricardo Bentleio eiusque editione Terentii (Leipzig, 1819 = Op. 2:236-87); Über das Wesen und die Behandlung der Mythologie. Ein Brief an Herrn Hofrath Creuzer (Leipzig, 1819); De Aeschyli Danaidibus (Leipzig, 1820 = Op. 2:319-36); Euripidis fragmenta duo Phaethontis e codice Cbromontano edita (Leipzig, 1821 = Miscelhnea critica, Hildesheim, 1822: 1.1:1-17 = Op. 3:3-21); Euripidis Medea. Ed. P. Elmsley with the notes of Hermann (Leipzig, 1822; notes reprinted in Op. 3:143-261); De Sogenis Aeginaetae victoris quinquertii (Leipzig, 1822 = Op. 3:22-36); De Aeschyli Niobe (Leipzig, 1823 = Op. 3:37-58); Emendationes ad editionem Euripidis Abestae . . . J. H. Monkii (Leipzig, 1824); De emendationibus per transpositionem verborum (Leipzig, 1824 = Miscellanea critica, 2.4:717-27 = Op. 3:98-112); De epitritis Doriis (Leipzig, 1824 = Op. 3:83-97); De Aeschyli Philocteta (Leipzig, 1825 = Op. 3:113-29); De Aeschyli Heliadibus (Leipzig, 1826 = Op. 3:130-42); Über Herrn Professor Böckh's Behandlung der griechischen Inschriften (Leipzig, 1826); Opuscula, vols. 1-VII (Leipzig, 1827-39; vol. VIII, ed. Theodor Fritzsche. Leipzig, 1877); De Aeschyli Prometheo soluto (Leipzig, 1828 = Op. 4:253-83); De Archimedis problemate bovino (Leipzig, 1828 = Op. 4:228-38); Emendationes Coluthi (Leipzig, 1828 = Op. 4:205-27); De hyperbob (Leipzig, 1829 = Op. 4:284-302); Incredibilium liber 1 (Leipzig, 1830 = Op. 4:341-72); De particula ἄν libri IV (Leipzig, 1831 = Op. 4:1-204); DeAeschyli Lycurgia (Leipzig, 1831 = Op. 5:3-30); De interpolationibus Homeri (Leipzig, 1832 = Op. 5:52-77); De Pauli epistolae ad Galatas tribus primis capitibus (Leipzig, 1832 = Op. 5:118-35); De Aeschyli Myrmidonibus, Nereidibus, Phrygibus (Leipzig, 1833 = Op. 5:136-63); De epigrammatis quibusdam Graecis (Leipzig, 1833 = Op. 5:164-81); De fragmentis poetarum in scholiis Vaticanis ad Euripidis Troades et Rhesum (Leipzig, 1833 = Op. 5:182-206); De certaminibus Graecorum [usually cited in this form; published without title] (Leipzig, 1834); De officio interpretis (Leipzig, 1834 = Op. 7:97-128); De quinque iudicibus poetarum (Leipzig, 1834 = Op. 7:88-96); De veterum Graecorum pictura parietum coniecturae (Leipzig, 1834 = Op. 5:207-29); Emendationes Pindaricae (Leipzig, 1834 = Op. 7:129-54); De Aeschyli trilogiis Thebanis (Leipzig, 1835 = Op. 7:190-210); De duabus inscriptionibus Graecis (Leipzig, 1835 = Op. 7:174-89); Defensio dissertationis de ὑπερβολῇ (Leipzig, 1835 = Op. 7:65-87); Ad Pindari Pyth. VII-XII (Leipzig, 1835 = Op. 7:155-73); De tragoedia comoediaque lyrica (Leipzig, 1836 = Op. 7:211-40); De Atlante (Leipzig, 1836 = Op. 7:241-59); De Aeschyli Aetneis (Leipzig, 1837 = Op. 7:315-30); De Apolline et Diana, I. II.(Leipzig, 1837 = Op. 7:285-314); De Graeca Minerva (Leipzig, 1837 = Op. 7:260-84); De Aeschyli Psychostasia (Leipzig, 1838 = Op. 7:343-61); De Aeschyli tragoediis fata Aiacis et Teucri complexis (Leipzig, 1838 = Op. 7:362-87); De hippodromo Olympiaco {Leipzig, 1839 = Op. 7:388-404); De iteratis apud Homerum (Leipzig, 1840 = Op. 8:11-23; German translation by J. Latacz as “Ober die Wiederholungen bei Homer”); Homer. Tradition und Neuerung. Wege der Forschung 463, ed. J. Latacz. (Darmstadt, 1979: 47-59); Non videri Aeschylum ‘Ἰλίου πέρσιν scripsisse (Leipzig, 1841 = Op. 8:129-44); Retractiones adnotatorum ad Sophoclis Philoctetam (Leipzig, 1841 = Op. 8:185-202); De Horatii primo carmine (Leipzig, 1842 = Op. 8:395-400); De L. Attii libris Didascalicon (Leipzig, 1842 = Op. 8:390-94); De choro Vesparum Aristophanis (Leipzig, 1843 = Op.8:249-67); De Dionysii et Mesomedis hymnis (Leipzig, 1843 = Op. 8:343-51); De Hesiodi Theogoniae forma antiquissima(Leipzig, 1844 = Op. 8:47-67); De Io. Nic. Madvigii interpretation quarumdam verbi Latini formarum (Leipzig, 1844 = Op.8:415-32); De Pindari ad solem deficientem versibus. (Leipzig, 1845 = Op. 8:75-89); Pindari Nemeorum carmen sextum(Leipzig, 1845 = Op. 8:68-74); De Prometheo Aeschyleo (Leipzig, 1846 = Op. 8:144-57); De re scenica in Aeschyli Orestea(Leipzig, 1846 = Op. 8:158-72); De loco Callimachei hymni in Delum et quibusdam epigrammatis (Leipzig, 1847 = Op. 8:360-70)De quibusdam bcis Euripidis Troadum (Leipzig, 1847 = Op. 8:203-17); De interpolationibus Euripideae Iphigeniae in Aulide, I. II. (Leipzig, 1847-48 = Op. 8:218-41); Emendationes quinque carminum Olympiorum Pindari (Leipzig, 1848 = Op.8:110-28); De arte poesis Graecorum bucolicae (includes Bionis et Moschi carmina) (Leipzig, 1849 = Op. 8:329-42).

    Editions

    Aeschyli Eumenides (Leipzig, 1799); Aristophanis Nubes (Leipzig, 1799); Euripidis Hecuba (Leipzig, 1800; ed. G. Lange based on Hermann’s edition, Halle, 1806; 2d ed., 1828); Plauti Trinummus (Leipzig, 1800); Orphica (Leipzig, 1805); Homeri hymni et epigrammata (Leipzig, 1806); Photii Lexicon (combined with Iohannis Zonarae Lexicon, ed. T. A. H. Tittmann; Leipzig, 1808); Euripidis Hercules furens (Leipzig, 1810); Euripidis Supplices (Leipzig, 1811); Draconis Stratonicensis Liber de metris poetices. Io. Tzetzae Exegesis in Homeri Iliadem (Leipzig, 1812); Sophoclis Aiax. (Leipzig, 1817; 4th ed., 1851); Sophoclis Electra(Leipzig, 1819; 3d ed., 1864); Sophoclis Trachiniae (Leipzig, 1822; 3d ed., 1851); Euripidis Bacchae. Leipzig, 1823; Sophoclis Antigona (Leipzig, 1823 (second edition of Erfurdt’s text); 3d ed., 1830); Sophoclis Oedipus Rex. Leipzig, 1823 (second edition of Erfurdt’s text); Sophoclis Philoctetes (Leipzig, 1824; 2d ed., 1839); Sophoclis Oedipus Coloneus (Leipzig, 1825; 2d ed., 1841); Euripidis Ion (Leipzig, 1827); Hermesianactis elegi (Leipzig, 1828 = Op. 4:239-52); Aristophanis Nubes (Leipzig, 1830); Euripidis Tragoediae. Vol. I [Hecuba, Iph. Aul., Iph.Taur.]; Vol. II [Hel., Andr., Cycl., Phoen.] (Leipzig, 1831-40); Plauti Bacchides (Leipzig, 1845); Aeschyli Tragoediae, vols. 1-2, ed. M. Haupt (Leipzig, 1852; 2d ed., Berlin, 1859).

    Articles

    Only a few can be cited here, especially some of Hermann’s reviews, which were extremely famous in his day. More titles are to be found in the Opuscula (see above).

    “Commentatio de verbis, quibus Graeci incessum equorum indicant, ad Xenophon- tem de re equestri cap. VII,” Op. 1:63-80; “De ellipsi et pleonasmo in Graeca lingua,” Op. 1:148-244; “Censura in novam editionem Stephaniani Thesauri Gr. Londiniensem,” Classical Journal 18, no. 35 (September 1818) 169-92 = Op. 2:217-51; [Review of P. Elmsley’s Euripidis Medea.] Classical Journal 19, no. 38 (June 1819) 267-89; 21, no. 42 (June 1820) 338-57; 22, no. 44 (December 1820) 402-28; reprinted as Euripidis Medea, ed. P. Elmsley, with annotations by Hermann (Leipzig, 1822: 325-407 = Op. 3:143-261); “De Rheso tragoedia,” Op.3:262-310; “Recension von Herrn Dissens Pindar.” Neue Jahrbücher für Philologie und Pädogogik 1 (1831) 44-91 = Op. 6.1:1-69; “Recension von Herrn Göttlings Hesiodus.” [Wiener] Jahrbücher der Literatur 59 (1832) 192-248; 60 (1832) 1-49 = Op.6.1:142-287;

    “Über die Behandlung der griechischen Dichter bei den Englandern, nebst Bemerkungen über Homer und die Fragmente der Sappho,” [Wiener] Jahrbücher der Literatur 54 (1832) 217-70 = Op. 6.1:70-141); “Recension von Herrn [Otfried] Müllers Eumeniden des Aeschylus,” [Wiener] Jahrbücher der Literatur 64 (1833) 203-44; 65 (1834) 96-155 = Op. 6.2:3-215; “Über die Horazische Ode an Censorinus,” Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Königlich Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig 1 (1847) 274ff. Op. 8:401-14; “Über Friedrich Wolfgang Reiz,” Op. 8:453-63.

    In addition, some of Hermann’s official speeches and poems, e.g., on the anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation, the Russian Czar Alexander I, and the Saxon King Friedrich August I, are printed in the Opuscula.

  • Notes:

    Johann Gottfried Jacob Hermann was, with Richard Bentley (1662-1742) and Richard Porson (1759-1808), one of the triad of the greatest textual critics of history, and with Friedrich August Wolf (1759-1824) and August Böckh (1795-1867) he was one of the trinity of the greatest German classical philologists of the first half of the nineteenth century. He did not achieve the spectacular, albeit transient, success of Wolf’s work on Homer nor the far-reaching and abiding influence of Böckh’s studies of Greek inscriptions and institutions; yet, as the recognized leader of the linguistic and text-critical school of classical philology, as one of the greatest scholars of Greek and Latin of all time, and as a brilliant academic teacher and the educator of a whole generation of outstanding philologists, he acquired a fame that was, for a time, virtually legendary and that continues to reverberate to this day.

    Hermann’s accomplishment is all the more astounding in that it was achieved in a narrow, even provincial, environment. Born and buried in Leipzig, he hardly ever left his home town. The events of his life show but few travels outside the city: one semester as a student at Jena (1793-1794), two journeys to Switzerland (1815, 1825), brief excursions within central Germany (Thüringen, the Harz, Dresden, and vicinity), several visits to the spa at Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), and attendance at philological congresses in Gotha (1840), Dresden (1844), and Jena (1846). So far as is known, he never saw Berlin, then beginning its rise as a center of scholarship, even though after 1841 he could easily have made the journey by rail. It is not without embarrassment that one sees Hermann, the celebrated editor, referring to his personal inspection of codices in such third-class manuscript libraries as Leipzig and Zwickau; he failed to make use of the great manuscript collections in southern Germany, France, and Italy, even when his scholarly rivals, such as Peter Elmsley (1773-1825), began to do so. He never visited the classical lands.

    That these circumstances did not more grievously diminish his influence is due to the fact that within the limits that were set for him—or which he set for himself—he aimed at and achieved a perfection hitherto unknown in his discipline. His successes, however, were not handed to him. Son of a senior member of the Leipzig court of sheriffs and of a mother who, though born in Halle, was of French extraction (a heritage that Hermann all his life tended rather to disavow than to cherish, though it doubtless influenced him), his family was respected but devoid of any loftier intellectual ambitions. His father intended that his son should study the law, and after the appropriate studies young Hermann devoted his first publication, in 1793, to a subject in jurisprudence—the basis of criminal law. But from the first he was far more seriously interested in classical philology than the law, though he never attended a preparatory school and his frail early years were followed by a period of overflowing youthful energy during which he was disinclined to study. But then he found men who gave him discipline and guided him to the classical authors. The first of these mentors was his private tutor, Karl David Ilgen (1763-1834), who later, on Hermann’s recommendation, became rector of the famous boys’ boarding school Schulpforte. Matriculating next at the University of Leipzig in 1786, he encountered Friedrich Wolfgang Reiz (1733-1790), the Professor of Philology, who pointed him toward the pioneering accomplishments of the English philologists and recommended to him as his life’s work an edition of Plautus. (Hermann’s student Friedrich Ritschl (1806-76) later produced this edition.) Hermann revered Reiz all his life and as late as 1844 publicly celebrated his memory at the philological congress in Dresden.

    Becoming acquainted by chance with the philosophy of Kant, Hermann went briefly to Jena to attend the lectures of the Kantian Karl Reinhold (1758-1823). Clearly, however, he was more deeply influenced there by the philologist Christian Gottfried Schütz (1747-1832), an Aeschylus scholar, who eagerly recommended this tragedian to him. And although Hermann finally gave up his plans for an edition of Plautus, he was fascinated with the project of an edition of Aeschylus and worked on it all his life, though he failed to complete it. Only after his death was it published by his son-in-law, Moriz Haupt (1808-74).

    Though Hermann was not unaffected by external influences, his early mastery of philology cannot be explained by his training. It derived rather from a strong inner talent that, in addition, ripened quickly. Even in his first discussions of ancient meter (1796 and 1799) and in his early editions of Aeschylus (1799), Aristophanes (1799), and Plautus (1800), his command of his major field of endeavor—the explication of ancient, particularly Greek, poetry—was that of a master, and recognition came with appropriate rapidity. He became magister artium liberalium in 1793 and habilitated in 1794 with the thesis De generibus poeseos;in 1797 he was appointed Extraordinarius; in 1803 Ordinarius of Eloquence (eloquentiae); and in 1809 Professor of Poetry (poeseos) as well. This old and prestigious double professorship gave him a more respected position at the University of Leipzig than a professorship of philology would have done.

    In his own eyes, the focus of his pedagogical influence was the “Greek Society" (Societas Graeca), which he founded in 1797. Here he came together with his best students for scholarly discussion—in Latin, of course. But his public lectures—he delivered his philological lectures in Latin, while those of more general interest were in German—exerted a consistently strong influence for many years.

    Hermann declined calls from other universities: one from Kiel in 1803, after prolonged negotiations, and another from the newly founded University of Berlin in 1811. (August Böckh, who was still quite young, was appointed in his stead.) Hermann had not foreseen that Berlin would rise meteorically to become the intellectual center of Germany, and when it happened, he probably viewed that rise with some suspicion. He was twice Rector of the University of Leipzig, which in 1840 honored him in princely style on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his master’s degree. He reached the zenith of his public activity as president of the Philological Congress at Dresden in 1844. He married Wilhelmine Schwagerichen, the daughter of a Leipzig merchant, in 1803, and he was the father of six children. Grieving over the collapse of the German Reich in 1806, he gave his sons the names of medieval German emperors—Otto, Konrad, Rudolph.

    In the course of his life Hermann received numerous honors. He was, for example, Knight of the Saxon Civil Service Order, a member of the Peace Class of the Prussian Order of Merit, the Greek Order of the Redeemer, and the Russian Order of Stanislaus. On the other hand, he declined appointment as geheimer Rath (Privy Councillor), which had been projected in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of his professorship. He was a member of academies or scientific societies in Berlin, Munich, Nancy, Oslo, St. Petersburg, and Rome, as well as being one of the eight associated members of the Academie des Inscriptions et de Belles Lettres of the Institut de France in Paris. In Leipzig in 1846 he was among the founding members of the Royal Society of Sciences (today the Saxon Academy of Sciences) and was its first secretary. In the same city shortly before his death he became member of the old and highly respected Prince Jablonowski Society of Sciences, which appeared before the public chiefly in setting subjects for prize essays.

    One ought not to omit the fact that, as was customary for scholars in Germany of this period, Hermann was assigned by the Saxon government to take part in the censorship of books. He received almost daily the proofs of novels and the like, the perusal of which he generally left to his wife. When the government proposed in 1836 to set up a separate Board of Censorship, Hermann strenuously opposed it, fearing that censorship would tighten its grip. This strong protest of 1836 was his only political activity of note. During the French Revolution his attitude toward contemporary events was less enthusiastic than that of the mass of young people, and later his political stance was half-liberal and half-conservative. He was sympathetic toward the revolution of 1848, which brought troubles to Leipzig among other places, without being shaken in his monarchical principles. His death at the threshold of the revolutionary years 1848 and 1849 spared him the disappointment of seeing his younger and highly talented colleagues Moriz Haupt (also his son-in-law), Otto Jahn, and Theodor Mommsen, who were enmeshed in the events of the revolution, dismissed from their posts in 1850. He had felt entitled to hope that their connection with the University of Leipzig would long guarantee to his university a leading position in the disciplines of philology and Altertumswissenschaft.

    All observers agree in their descriptions of Hermann’s temperament and outward appearance. He was short of stature but slender and well-built; his mental and physical health was sound; harmonious by nature, he was personally unassuming but resolute and energetic. His city knew him not only as a scholar but also as a passionate horseman. In studies on the Greek terms to describe the gaits of the horse (Op. 1:63-80) and on horse-racing at Olympia (1839), in an excursus on equitation in his 1799 work on metrics, and in a posthumously published description of a ride to Karlsbad, he made good literary use of this hobby.

    Hermann’s scholarly conceptions were rooted in the theoretical heritage of the European Enlightenment; little affected by the contemporary spirit of Romanticism, he developed this heritage further, moving in the direction of the Positivism of the nineteenth century. True, he modified the Enlightenment’s system of categories by making language, rather than reason, the central concept in his view of humanity, but he interpreted language as the reflection of reason and thus looked upon man, in the final analysis, as an animal rationnel, just as the Enlightenment had. From the category of the understanding he derived his characteristic application of the idea (conceived in a priori fashion) of law, by which he sought to transcend—or rather, by a unity of empirical and rational methodology, to replace—the more empirically grounded philological rules of the English scholars. He stressed that the details of texts under philological analysis must be understood as manifestations of general principles as well as in their own unique individuality. Impressed by Kant’s critical philosophy, he took into serious consideration the category of the beautiful and thus emphasized, among other aspects, the aesthetic side of the phenomena under investigation, as had Kant in the Critique of Judgment. Hermann’s insistence on high scientific standards made him skeptical toward hypotheses and speculations, for, as he formulated it, there was after all an art and science of not-knowing: est etiam aliqua nesciendi ars et scientia (De Musis fluvialibus, 1819).

    Devoting himself to the ideal of the strictest possible methodology, Hermann worked out a priori three bases on which to ground the investigation and interpretation of texts: a general science of literature, sketched out at least in outline, a more broadly developed grammar, and—the fundamental philological discipline that he dealt with in most detail—metrics.

    A science of literature requires a theoretical conception of literature, and Hermann produced his by deriving it from a system of the arts that was, in turn, based upon 1) the fundamental human ability to receive external impressions, 2) the capacity for conceptual thinking, and 3) (like a good Kantian) the perception of space and time (Handbuch der Metrik, 1799). From these elements he deduced dichotomies of poetry and rhetoric (Handbuch der Metrik), prose and poetry (De differentia prosae et poeticae orationis, 1803), as well as several individual poetic genres (De poeseos generibus, 1794). He worked on similar lines in his study of Aristotle’s Poetics (edition with commentary, 1802) and, in a later study, on the tasks of the interpreter (De officio interpretis, 1834). Prose he thought, is objective in its point of view, whereas poetry is objective; the former aims at truth, the latter at beauty. The three intellectual functions of thought, feeling, and desire correspond to descriptive, epideictic, and practical prose. The inner structure of poetry can also be grasped by a deductive process that takes into account both content and form and leads to positing sixteen different poetic genres altogether, including lyric and epic, song, fable, and drama. The competent judge of literature must be familiar with the typical characteristics of each genre.

    The grammar of the ancient languages, Hermann found, was a mass of rules too numerous and confused in themselves to be readily systematized and further complicated by the addition of countless inescapable exceptions. Even in his early work Deemendanda ratione Graecae grammaticae (1801), he attempted to reduce the plethora of phenomena to comprehensible fundamental principles. Investigating the question of the pronunciation of the sounds symbolized by the Greek letters, he passed beyond accidence and into the realm of syntax, where his most fruitful discussions dealt with the phenomena that had been least clearly understood, e.g., enclisis, conjugation, cases, and moods.

    But before he could perfect his own system, he was called away by a publisher’s proposal for a new edition of the work of the French Jesuit Francois Vigier (1591-1647) on the chief characteristics of the Greek language (De praecipuis Graecae linguae idiotismis), a work that in Hermann’s day was still much in use. Hermann added his own insights to the work of Vigerus (1802) in the form of appendices and thus passed up the chance to produce his own independent treatment of the subject. Moreover, he exaggerated the systematic character of a few of the phenomena that he discussed, for instance, he traced ellipse and pleonasm, confusio notionum (e.g., the use of a genitive where an adjective is expected), zeugma, attraction, anacoluthon, and substitution of moods back to the philosophical categories of quantity, quality, relation, and modality. Posterity is therefore not mistaken in judging that Philip Karl Buttmann (1764-1829), who reasoned more cautiously, was the true founder of the science of Greek grammar, and not Hermann. Yet Hermann’s achievements in this field, among them his great study in four books on the particle ἄν (1831), must not be underestimated. Moreover, he also laid the foundations for a better understanding of Greek dialects (De Graecae linguae dialectis, 1807) and of the individual styles of ancient poets; here his examples were Pindar (1809) and Homer (1812-1813). Neither he nor Buttmann, however, felt any sympathy for the novel insights being put forward by the newly founded science of comparative historical linguistics.

    What Hermann failed to accomplish in his grammatical studies he achieved in metrics: construction of a system, worked out in the smallest details, that embraced Greek and Roman literature equally. His chief work here, in terms of abundance of rules and examples, is the Elementa doctrinae metricae (1816). But his other three works on meter—De metris poetarum Graecorum et Latinorum libri III (1796), Handbuch der Metrik (1799, the most important of Hermann’s few publications in German), and Epitome doctrinae metricae (1818), though they are built on basically similar principles, nevertheless each has an independent value. Like all his predecessors, Hermann took Hephaestion as his starting point; modern authorities like Heath and Brunk, in his view, had if anything lagged behind the ancient critic. Richard Bentley (1662-1742) had been the first to develop the requisite sensitivity to the rhythms of the ancients. He, to be sure, like a poet, had merely stated what he felt and had left it to others to develop this “feeling.” But “no one did so, because no one felt as Bentley did” (Handbuch der Metrik: iv). Even Richard Porson (1759-1808), Hermann maintained, valuable as his remarks were, had not really gone beyond Bentley. Hermann felt that he himself had the talent and the duty to take the decisive step by adopting a characteristically double approach to ancient metrics. On the one hand, he sought to understand the structure of the ancients’ verses from feeling alone, from his sensitivity to the individual phenomena; on the other hand, however, he sought to comprehend the strict regularity and conformity to law that contained and transcended the particular details. Once again it was Kant who supplied him with a law, this time by means of his concept of causality. Before analyzing individual meters, Hermann declared, one must understand the “general law” of rhythm, and this was “the temporal form of causality, which is determined by the effect of alternation.” According to this rule, the arsis necessarily draws the thesis after itself and so forms metrical series that are divided into units by caesurae. The first book of the Elementa, for example, is devoted to these general postulates; the second and third books then analyze simple, mixed, and compound meters. Generally speaking, Hermann’s observations are excellent, and the rules he formulates—the most famous is the so-called “Hermann’s Bridge” in the hexameter—are valid. Deriving everything from “causality” does seem arbitrary, as was noted by such contemporary critics as Geppert (see Bio-Bibliography). But by his principle we must look not to individual “meters,” and certainly not to “feet,” but to “series”—that is, larger metrical systems—as both the starting point and the goal of metrical analysis. Thus, he paved the way for the modern understanding of meter-—a way on which, e.g., Wilamowitz then traveled further. Hermann was justly proud of having been the first to formulate the rules that govern the structure of ancient strophes (Handbuch, 415-448). And without doubt it is due to Hermann’s work that even the most complicated ancient metrical forms—the verses and strophes of Pindar, of the Attic tragedians, and of the Roman comic poets—are intelligible today.

    However highly Hermann valued genre theory, grammar, and metrics, in his eyes they were merely tools to be used in the philologist’s real work: the editing and interpretation of texts. At the center of this major subdivision of his scholarly efforts were the works of the Attic tragedians. Hermann began his edition of Aeschylus as early as 1799 (Eumenides); the complete edition appeared posthumously in 1852. Completing and gradually superseding the edition of Sophocles begun by K. G. A. Erfurdt (1780-1813), he edited all the tragedies, beginning with the Ajax (1817) and ending with the Oedipus Coloneus (1825). He edited eleven plays by Euripides between 1800 (Hecuba) and 1840 (Phoenissae); he worked intensively on five more

    plays and on the recently discovered fragment of the Phaethon, while to four plays (Hippolytus, Heracleidae, Electra, Orestes) he devoted but a few remarks in passing. His splendid edition of the poems that have been transmitted under the name of Orpheus (Orphica, 1805) put an end to speculation on their supposed great antiquity, and his discussion of the place of these poems in the history of the Greek hexameter as it evolved from Homer to Nonnus was epoch-making. His other editions include the Homeric Hymns (1806), Aristophanes’ Nubes (1797 and 1830), and, in the last years of this life, various Hellenistic poets, such as Moschus and Bion (posthumous, 1849). He published texts of prose writers in connection with his studies on grammar, metrics, and the evolution of genres: Aristotle’s Poetics (1802), the Lexicon of Photius (1808), and the metrical work of pseudo-Draco (1812). Furthermore, he subjected Hesiod to more detailed text-critical analysis (1844), and, over the years, he repeatedly returned to textual studies of Pindar, to whom he had first been led by Christian Gottlob Heyne (1729-1812). His services to Roman poetry are great in his studies of Plautus (editions of the Trinummus, 1800, and of the Bacchides, 1845) and Terence (illustrating his difference of opinion with Bentley, 1819); but he was less fortunate in the case of Horace, particularly in his treatment of Carm.1.1 (1842). His genius for divination was brilliantly confirmed when Friedrich Ritschl in 1837 found support in the Milan palimpsest of Plautus for many of the readings that Hermann had “predicted.”

    The quality of Hermann’s conjectures varies in individual cases, but their excellence when taken together is undisputed. The Oxford Classical Texts of the tragedians, for example, (Aeschylus, ed. Murray; Sophocles, ed. Pearson; Euripides, ed. Murray) cite nearly 900 of Hermann’s readings, counting both those accepted into the text and those cited in the apparatus (Aeschylus, 236 times; Sophocles, 204 times; Euripides, 456 times)—more citations than are granted to any other critic. Hermann’s results in textual criticism were achieved without the fundamental manuscript studies that Elmsley, for example, undertook, and quite apart from the method of systematic recensio by which Karl Lachmann (1793-1851) revolutionized textual studies. Wilamowitz (1848-1931) called attention to one important characteristic of Hermann as a textual critic (Geschichte der Philologie: 49): while Elmsley applied the principle of analogy like a master, Hermann was able to grasp the completely individual character of a given textual passage. Today we can say that much of what Elmsley or Lachmann achieved would, in the present state of textual criticism, be accomplished by a computer. But Hermann’s style of approaching a text transcends the capacities of mechanical data processing and herein lies its exemplary value for philology—if not for the philology of this generation or the next, then for the generation after that.

    Hermann believed that interpreting a literary work consisted of more than merely constituting the text; he also insisted on extended treatment of questions of form, content, and characterization. So much is clear from what has been said above. But even Hermann’s own students regretted that Hermann did not carry out his full program of interpretation for at least one text. Here Karl Otfried Müller anticipated him with his edition, with rich commentary, of the Eumenides. Unfortunately, Hermann was not prepared to recognize the younger man's achievement and became entangled with Müller in one of those polemical affairs that characterized nearly the whole of his scholarly career.

    The positive side (relatively speaking) of these polemical contests is that they led Hermann to areas of work that he otherwise might not have approached. This is true of the earliest of his quarrels, that with his contemporary Georg Friedrich Creuzer (1771-1858) who, unlike Hermann, was open to the influence of Romanticism and (rashly enough) traced mythology back to a primeval revelation couched in symbols. Hermann, on the other hand, in his own discussions of the question (e.g., Demythologia Graecorum antiquissima, 1817; Briefe iiber Homer und Hesiod, 1818; Uber das Wesen . . . der Mythologie, 1819), clung firmly to the older principles of nature-mythology, which held that the gods and the figures of mythology were to be viewed as relatively simple personifications of the realms of nature and natural phenomena. His writings on this subject enjoy today no higher a reputation than those of Creuzer, but they deserve to be judged differently from the latter’s works. Certainly we are taken aback when Hermann identifies Io with the Nile and her father, Inachos, with the Nile’s source (De historiae Graecae primordiis,1818). On the other hand, in his studies of Apollo, Artemis, and Athena (1837) he refrained from reckless etymologizing and derived these divinities from pre-Greek religion; in this regard, he was on the right track.

    Stubborn antagonism arose between Hermann and F. G. Welcker (1784-1868). Among other subjects, they quarreled about the structure of the larger tragic forms. From his study of the single preserved specimen of a trilogy—Aeschylus’ Oresteia—Hermann deduced that the first play of a trilogy exhibited a strict form, the second loosened the form of the first, and the third, bringing in spectacular stage effects, displayed the most colorful and variable structure of the three (De compositione tetralogiarum, 1819). Hermann successfully applied this rule to the fragments of the concluding play in the Danaid trilogy; his view of the putative court scene and the entrance of Aphrodite is precisely that of modern philologists. Yet when Welcker tried to do the same thing for the Promethea, Hermann accused him of fantasizing and quite failed to see the heuristic value of Welcker’s hypothesis. Welcker replied in the same vein, and the polemics from both sides multiplied.

    Hermann and Welcker also disagreed about the treatment of Greek verse inscriptions. This point led to a third scholarly quarrel, which was particularly instructive and far-reaching. Here Hermann threw all his authority onto the scale and yet did not come off the victor. His opponent was Böckh, and Hermann’s chief point of attack was Böckh’s collection of Greek inscriptions—a work whose usefulness was obvious from the first, as Hermann should have realized. But his fundamental principle was the prime importance of mastery of the languages, even in the “study of things,” in which it was only superficially apparent that other considerations—for example, the breadth of the scholar’s knowledge of the material—could be decisive. This principle, he felt, was under attack.

    Hermann has often been praised for carrying on his scholarly feuds in a truly “chivalrous” manner, for confining himself to remarks on the subject at hand and refraining from personalities, for being always ready for reconciliation (as indeed he was in the case of Böckh), and for having, on the whole, “meant no harm” (as in the quarrel with Welcker). But the “chivalrous” Hermann also declared in 1838, in an unpublished letter (in the Universitätsbibliothek in Leipzig) to his student Funkhänel, with reference to Welcker’s criticism of his study De Aeschyli Aetneis (1837), “This man [Welcker] is a priori my opponent, just as I know a priori that when he writes anything, I will not be able to agree with him.” Hermann is here clearly entangled in prejudice—an aspect of his personality that cannot be excluded from a complete portrayal of the man.

    But in an evaluation of Hermann as a polemicist, the question of his scholarly point of view is more important than the individual style of his polemicizing. Unquestionably he attributed such importance to his quarrel with Böckh primarily because it concerned the category of language, which for him was central. While Böckh saw in language one area of research among others, Hermann claimed first place for it and accordingly claimed first place for philology among the other subjects within Altertumswissenschaft that were then taking shape—ancient history, archaeology, epigraphy, history of law, etc. Certainly the dichotomy that here arose has been oversimplified by those who have maintained that since Hermann and Böckh classical philology has been virtually divided into two camps: the philology of words and texts and the philology of “things.” But it must be confessed that the two men who here vied with each other represented two types of philologists—types that at least tended in the directions indicated above. Likewise it must be admitted that, though the barriers between the two may have been torn down, the two are not fully reconciled to this day. If we grant that Hermann’s sphere included not only the narrow subjects of grammar and textual criticism but also the somewhat broader subjects of linguistic, formal, and aesthetic textual analysis, then we will agree that it is certainly to be encountered at the present time.

    And it would be incorrect to conclude from Hermann’s polemics that his principles obliged him to close his eyes to everything new in his discipline. The enthusiastic recognition that he granted to Niebuhr, for example, tells us otherwise. He embraced without hesitation and without reserve the revolutionary ideas of Friedrich August Wolf (1759-1824) and Karl Lachmann (1793-1851) in Homeric criticism; indeed, he himself took a hand in Homeric research in the spirit of Wolf by calling attention to the different linguistic and stylistic levels in the text of Homer.

    Two further aspects of Hermann’s influence deserve mention: his relation to the intellectual leaders of contemporary Germany and to the English philologists.

    Mutual esteem united Goethe and Hermann. In 1800 Goethe visited him in Leipzig, and in 1820 they met again at Karlsbad. “Goethius”—as the name appears in Hermann’s Latin writings—profited from Hermann’s studies in metrics, had a share in the publication of the fragment of Euripides’ Phaethon, (Hermann dedicated his 1831 edition of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Taurus to the aged Goethe), and in one of his geological treatises adopted Hermann’s maxim about the art of not-knowing. Hermann translated a section of Schiller’s Wallenstein into Greek verses of great formal perfection. He was Wilhelm von Humboldt’s (1767-1835) adviser for the latter’s translation of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon (on this subject cf. the letters published by Albert Leitzmann, 1909). Hermann ranked Humboldt far above other German translators of Greek texts, such as the meritorious and popular Johann Heinrich Voß (1751-1826). It was Hermann, incidentally, to whom Humboldt is said to have made the famous remark in conversation on the battleground of Leipzig in 1813, “Empires fall, but a good verse endures forever” (Leitzmann: 236).

    As chance would have it, no less a figure than Goethe is also our witness for Hermann’s early successes in England. At the aforementioned meeting in Leipzig in 1800, Hermann’s most important publisher, Gerhard Fleischer (1769-1849), was present, and he made the remark, which Goethe immediately noted in his diary, that Hermann’s Metrik was “selling well” in England (Goethe, Tagebücher 1800). Hermann always emphasized the decisive importance of what he had learned from the English philologists. With a few of them, too, he quarreled—Elmsley, for example, whom he reproached for holding too closely to the rules he had formulated. Yet these differences of opinion never got out of hand as did those with his German colleagues. Hermann published in the Classical Journal, whose editors publicly congratulated themselves on having secured the collaboration of the famous scholar, and he corresponded with such English philologists as Gaisford (a letter to Gaisford is preserved in the Gennadeion, according to W. M. Calder III). In Leipzig he received visitors from England. In 1825 he was gratified when the respected English philologist Samuel Parr (1747-1825) left him, the “greatest of critics,” a gold ring in his will.

    Naturally Hermann’s influence was even more potent in Germany than in England. No other German philologist in the first half of the nineteenth century led so splendid a troop of outstanding students as did Hermann. Only the most famous of them can be mentioned here (in order of seniority and with their dates and the places in which they chiefly worked): Christian August Lobeck (1781-1860; Konigsberg), Friedrich Wilhelm Thiersch (1784-1860; Munich), Ferdinand Gotthelf Hand (1786-1851; Jena), Franz Passow (1786-1833; Weimar, Breslau), August Meineke (1790-1870, Berlin), Carl Christian Reisig (1792-1829; Halle), Adolf Trendelenburg (1802-72; Berlin), Leonhard-Spengel (1803-80; Munich), Karl Friedrich Hermann (1804-55; Gottingen), Johannes Classen (1806-91; Liibeck, Frankfurt, Hamburg), his son-in-law Moriz Haupt (1808-74; Leipzig, Berlin), Hermann Sauppe (1809-93; Gottingen), Theodor Bergk (1812-81; Halle, Bonn), Hermann Bonitz (1814-88; Vienna, Berlin), and Hermann Koechly (1815-76; Heidelberg; Hermann’s biographer). Karl Lachmann and Friedrich Ritschl also briefly attended Hermann’s lectures. Thus, there was nearly no important German university without a student of Hermann’s active in teaching and research. Hermann’s ability both to inspire his students and to induce them to work with the greatest methodological exactitude was incomparable.

    Hermann was thus entitled to feel that he had plowed and sowed for the future, and yet his view of the future was gloomy. “Today everything is so out of joint that we are already fairly in the midst of barbarism.” Only later would “a better time some day come, when philology too will be resurrected” (unpublished letter to Funkhänel, 1 February 1847, now in the Universitatsbibliothek in Leipzig—written one year before the birth of Wilamowitz!).

    In the judgment of many, Hermann was the acclaimed leader of philology in his time; two hundred years after he began his work, his glory has lost not a little of its luster. Hermann brought to perfection older methods of philology without also becoming the champion of entirely new methods. The nineteenth century in philology was not the century of Hermann. But that century’s philology cannot be imagined apart from Hermann’s influence.

    Translated by Michael Armstrong

  • Sources:

    Bibliography

    “Gottfried Hermann.” Bibliographie zur Geschichte der Stadt Leipzig, Sonderband II: Karl-Marx-Universität Leipzig. Bibliographic zur Universitätsgeschichte 1409-1959. (Leipzig, 1961): 239; H. Hartung, Catalogus Bibliothecae Godofredi Hermanni (Leipzig, 1854).

    Biographical

    K.F. Ameis, Gottfried Hermann’s pädagogischer Einfluß. Ein Beitrag zur Characteristik des altclassischen Humanisten (Jena, 1850); C. Bursian, Geschichte der classischen Philologie in Deutschland (Munich & Leipzig, 1883; reprinted New York & London, 1965): 2:666-87; E. Fraenkel, “The Latin Studies of Hermann and Wilamowitz,” JRS 38 (1948) 28-34; C. Freese, De Hermanni metrica ratione (Halle, 1829); C.E. Geppert, Über das Verhältnis der Hermannschen Theorie der Metrik zur Überlieferung (Berlin, 1835); O. Jahn, “Gottfried Hermann. Gedachtnisrede” (Leipzig, 1849; reprinted in Otto Jahn. Biographische Aufsätze Leipzig, 1866: 89-132); “Johann Gottfried Jakob Hermann.” Neuer Nekrolog der Deutschen 26 (1848) 803-11; H. Koechly, Gottfried Hermann (Heidelberg, 1874) (The richest source of information.); C. Lehmann,  “Die Auseinandersetzung zwischen Wort- und Sachphilologie in der deutschen klassischen Altertumswissenschaft des 19. Jahrhunderts,” Diss., Humboldt-Universität Berlin, 1964; H.J. Mette, “Gottfried Johann Jakob Hermann.” NDB 8 (Berlin, 1969) 657-58; R.A. Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship from 1300 to 1850 (Oxford, 1976): 178-9 = Die klassische Philologie von Petrarca bis Mommsen, trans. Marlene and Erwin Arnold. Munich, 1982: 219-20; E. Platner, “Reminiscences of the Late Gottfried Hermann,” Classical Museum 7 (1849) 470-78; P. Pruner, Goethes Beziehungen zu Gottfried Hermann. Schulprogramm (Frankfurt- am-Main, 1913); J.E. Sandys,  A History of Classical Scholarship. Cambridge, 1908; reprinted New York, 1958: 3:88-95; E. Vogt, “Der Methodenstreit zwischen Hermann und Böckh und seine Bedeutung für die Geschichte der Philologie,” in Philologie und Hermeneutik im 19. Jahrhundert, ed. H. Flashar, K. Grander, & A. Horstmann. (Göttingen, 1979): 103-21; U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Euripides: Herakles, I. (Berlin, 1889; 4th ed., Berlin, 1959: 235-9. = Einleitung in die griechische Tragödie. Berlin, 1907: 235-9); ------, Geschichte der Philologie (Leipzig, 1959: 51-2 = History of Classical Scholarship, trans. Alan Harris (London, 1982): 109-10).

    Letters

    G. Hermann, Carmina latina Carolo Einerto inscripta (Dresden, 1852); ------, “Reise nach Karlsbad” [Greek verses] (Berlin, 1863); A. Leitzmann, “Wilhelm von Humboldts Briefe an Gottfried Hermann,” in Festschrift Walter Judeich (Weimar, 1929): 224-70; A.B. Volkmann, Gottfried Hermanns lateinische Briefe an seinen Freund Volkmann (Heidelberg, 1882).

    Nachlaß of Hermann does not exist; several unpublished letters are preserved in the libraries of Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin, and other German and European cities.

  • Author: Ernst Günther Schmidt