Welcome to the Database of Classical Scholars

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  • Date of Birth: January 14, 1856
  • Born City: Zempelburg
  • Born State/Country: West Prussia (now Poland)
  • Parents: Haim Heimann & Lina-Liebe Kroll C.
  • Date of Death: November 18, 1915
  • Death City: Breslau (Wroclaw)
  • Death State/Country: Germany (now Poland)
  • Married: Bona Lazarus
  • Education:

    Gymnasium in Culm 1866-73 Ph.D., Breslau, 1878; habilitation, 1884; travel in France and Italy, 1886. 

  • Dissertation:

    Quaestiones Eustathianae Particula 1. (Breslau, 1878); “De Heraclide Milesio grammatico” (habil., Breslau, 1884) expanded as De Heraclide Milesio grammatico scripsit, fragmenta colegit disposuit illustravit L. Cohn, Berliner Studien für class. Philologie und Archäologie 1.2 (1884) 603-717 and separately (Berlin, 1884).

  • Professional Experience:

    Private docent, Breslau, 1884-89; Librarian, 1889- 1902;; prof. 1897-1915; senior librarian, 1902-15, 

  • Publications:

    De Aristophane Byzantio et Suetonio Tranquillo Eustathi Auctoribus Jahrbücher für class. Philologie SupplXII 12 (1881) 283-374 (published separately (Leipzig, 1882); “Untersuchungen über die Quellen der Plato-Scholien,” Jahrbücher für class. Philologie Suppl. 13 (1884) 771-864;  (Leipzig, 1884); “De Heraclide Milesio Grammatico,” Stud.f. klass. Philol. 1 (1884) 601-719; Zu den Paroemiographen (Breslau, 1887); Philonis Alexandrini Libellus de Opificio Mundi (Breslau, 1889); Codices ex bibliotheca Meermanniana Philippici Graeci nunc Berolinenses with W. Studemund Die Handschriften-Verzeichnisse der Kgl. Bibliothek zu Berlin 11. (Berlin, 1890); Zur Handschriftlichen Überlieferung, Kritik und Quellenkunde der Paroemiographen with O. Crusius Philologus Suppl. 6 (1892) 201-324; published separately Göttingen 1891); “The Latest Researches on Philo of Alexandria,” Jewish Quarterly Review (Oct. 1892); Philonis Alexandrini Opera quae supersunt, ed. vols. 1 & 4-6; vols 2-3 & 7 ed. by Paul Wendland, (Berlin, vol. 1, 1896; vol. 4, 1902; repr. Berlin 1962; vol. 5, 1902; vol. 6, ed. with Sigfried Reiter, 1915.); editio minor of the same in six volumes ed. with Reiter (Berlin, 1896-1915); “An Apocryphal Work Ascribed to Philo of Alexandria,” Jewish Quarterly Review (1898), “Philo von Alexandria,” Neue Jahrbücher für Classisches Altertum (1898) 514-40; “Einteilung und Chronologie der Schriften Philos,” Philologus, Supplement vii (1899) 385-436; “Griechische Lexikographie,” in Griechische Grammatik, ed. K. Brugmann, vol. 3 of Handbuch der Klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. L. Müller, 3rd ed, ii.1 (Munich, 1900) 575-616; Philo von Alexandrien. Die Werke in deutscher Übersetzung, 6 vols. (Breslau, 1909-38) (introduction and “Über Joseph” (1.155-213) & “Über die Tugenden” and “Über Belohnungen und Strafen (2.315-77 & 381-426) vol. 4 begun by Cohn but completed by Isaak Heinemann who edited vols. 5 &, with Maximilian Adler, 6. The work remains unfinished. 

  • Notes:

              Leopold Cohn entered the university in Breslau to study classical philology and history. He attended two seminars conducted by the historian Karl Johannes Neumann (1857-1917). Among his philology teachers were Richard Foerster (1843-1922), Arthur Ludwich (1840-1920), and August Rossbach (1823-98), but his most important influences were Martin Hertz (1818-95) and August Reifferscheid (1835-87), both students of Friedrich Ritschl (1806-76). Cohn supported himself as a private tutor, but maintained an interest in scholarly research in hopes of an academic career. In 1876 Refferscheid suggested to Cohn that he work on the authors cited in the Homeric scholia of Eustathios. The resulting essay, which he dedicated to Refferscheid, Auctores ab Eustathio in scholiis Homericis adhibiti indagentur won the Faculty Prize. On the basis of this work, Cohn was awarded a Ph.D. 

              Cohn was not an assertive personality and his shyness, coupled with the German civil service’s prejudice against Jews prevented him getting even a school-level position, though he passed the state teaching examination. Cohn continued his research on Byzantine commentary on Homer. He continued work on Eustathios and the scholias to Plato that led to his habilitation in 1884. He dedicated his habilitation to Hertz and Reifferscheid. A year in Italy and France developed his palaeographic skills and he brought back a trove of materials. 

              Despite his steady publication record, he could not find employment as a classicist. He was commissioned by the Prussian Ministry of Culture to update Joseph Staender’s catalogue of manuscripts at the Pauline Library in Münster (now the Münster University and State Library), which Cohn completed after concentrated work in the summer of 1888. In that year the Prussian Academy of Sciences awarded the Charlottenstiftung Prize for Classical Philology for an edition of Philo’s De opificio mundi. The principal award of a four-year grant went to Paul Wendland (1864-1915), at the time a schoolteacher in Berlin. Cohn received a Nebenpreis for the project, and the pair worked together so well that they devoted the remainder of their careers to a complete edition of Philo’s work.

              Before beginning his work on Philo, Cohn spent the summer of 1889 preparing the catalogue of the Greek manuscripts in the Meermann Collection at the Royal Prussian Library in Berlin with Wilhelm Studemund (1843-89), Reifferscheid's successor at Breslau. He joined the academic library service in October, 1889, but retained his teaching activities as a private lecturer.

               The complete edition of Philo required a partnership of two decades. The success of the edition gained Wendland professorships in professorships at Kiel (1902), Breslau (1906), and Göttingen (1909), but Cohn, who longed for an academic career, remained employed as a librarian (promoted to senior libarian in 1902). Studemund had tried diligently to find him a position, but his premature death at 46 dimmed Cohn’s prospects. Cohn supported himself by continuing his private tutorials and working for the wissenschaftlische Biblioteksdienst until the Philosophical Faculty awarded him a professorship in 1897. In 1902 he was named Senior Librarian and Wendlund joined him as professor from 1906 to 1909. From 1906 to 1909 Wendland (as professor) was temporarily his colleague at Breslau. Both men died in the autumn of 1915.

  • Sources:

    Richard Foerster, “Klass. Altertumswissenschaft” in Festschrift zur Feier des hundertjährigen Bestehens der Universität Breslau, ed. G. Kaufmann vol. 2 (Breslau, 1911) 398; Wilhelm Kroll, Chronik der Schlesischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Breslau 30 (1916) 120-3; Albert Lewkowitz, Jüdisches Lexikon. Ein enzyklopädisches Handbuch vol. 1 (Berlin, 1927) 1427; Encyclopaedia Judaica 5 (1930) 623; Jüdisches BiographArchives 1, 184, 279-95; DBA 2 232, 17018; Winfried Bühler, “De Leopoldo Cohnio eiusque indagnatione codicum paroemiographicorum,” in Zenobii Athoi Proverbia 1: Prolegomena, ed. W. Bühler (Göttingen, 1987) 344-7 & 350-2; vol. 5 (1999) 629; Lexikon dt. Jüd. Autoren 5 (1997) 229-31; Wininger, Große jüd. National-Biographie 1, 581-2.

  • Author: Ward Briggs

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