Albrecht Dihle

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Albrecht Gottfried Ferdinand Dihle (born March 28, 1923 in Kassel ; † January 29, 2020 in Cologne ) was a German classical philologist and scholar of antiquity .


Albrecht Dihle was the youngest of three children of the administrative lawyer, President of the Domain Chamber of the Principality of Waldeck and Consistorial President of the Evangelical Church in Waldeck Hermann Dihle and his wife, the concert singer Frieda Dihle, née. von Reden, (1882-1944). He therefore spent his childhood in Arolsen in close contact with the court of Prince Friedrich von Waldeck-Pyrmont . In Göttingen, where the family had withdrawn after the National Socialists' unlawful dismissal of the father from his ecclesiastical office after the annexation of the Principality to the Free State of Prussia (1929), he moved to the State Gymnasium, today's Max-Planck -Gymnasium , graduating from high school. He then served as a soldier in World War II from 1940 to 1942 and was seriously wounded. From 1942 to 1945 he studied archeology , history and classical philology at the Universities of Göttingen and Freiburg . Alongside Karl Deichgräber and Kurt Latte, one of his most formative and pioneering teachers was the Byzantinist and Christian archaeologist Alfons Maria Schneider , whose "extensive erudition and extensive language skills, unique familiarity with the monuments and territories of the Oriens Christianus as well as acumen, inventiveness and [...] enormous work energy, ”he boasts.

After losing both parents in quick succession in 1944, he passed the state examination for teaching at grammar schools the following year and was given a teaching position for Latin courses at the University of Göttingen, which he did until 1954. On August 22, 1946, he became the first doctoral student at the Göttingen Institute for Classical Studies after the end of the Nazi dictatorship with the thesis Λαός, ἔθνος, δῆμος. PhD contribution to the development history of the popular term in early Greek thought . The dissertation that Karl Deichgräber, Dean from 1939 to 1945, was relieved of his office at the beginning of 1946, was examined in his place by Kurt Latte.

Like the dissertation, the post- doctoral thesis Studies on Byzantine Metrics and Rhythmics , completed in 1950 and which he wrote during his time as assistant, is only available in typewritten form, but unlike the previous one, it has to be regarded as unpublished because, according to the catalog of the German National Library, there is no copy in a public library is available. On January 4, 1954, he was appointed university lecturer, and on January 22, he was appointed adjunct professor. In 1958 he followed a call to the chair of Greek studies at the University of Cologne . In 1974 he accepted the chair for Greek studies at the Department of Classical Philology at the University of Heidelberg , where he taught and researched until his retirement in 1989. There he was a member of the Heidelberg Church Fathers Colloquium, an ongoing event for reading Christian texts from antiquity. Dihle's students include Klaus Thraede , Dieter Hagedorn , Hans-Jürgen Horn , Hermann Funke , Stefan Rhein and the Leibniz Prize winner Oliver Primavesi .

From 1964 to 2004 Dihle worked as co-editor of the Reallexikons für Antiquity and Christianity , for which he himself wrote important articles such as the one on the lemma “Holy”. He was also a co-founder of the Hypomnemata series. Investigations into antiquity and their afterlife . From 1952 to 1958 he was editor of the Göttingen scholars advertisements , from 1976 to 1996 he was co-editor of the magazine Antike und Abendland .

Dihle was visiting professor several times, at Cambridge in 1963 , at Harvard in 1965/66 and 1989/1990 , in Stanford in 1968 , in Princeton in 1983 , and also in Perugia , Sydney and Durban . 1973/1974 Dihle Sather was Professor at the University of California, Berkeley . The lecture series held there resulted in his book The Theory of Will in Classical Antiquity , first published in English . Some of the latter and a few other renowned universities awarded Dihle calls, which he refused for various reasons (1965 and 1968 Harvard, 1967 University of Konstanz , 1968 Göttingen, 1968 and 1973 Stanford, 1969 University of Zurich , 1973 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ).

Dihle was married to Marlene Dihle, b. Meier-Menzel, with whom he had four daughters and a son. After his retirement, the Dihle couple lived in Cologne again, where the scholar died on January 29, 2020 at the age of almost 97.


Albrecht Dihle has scientifically researched the literary tradition and knowledge culture of antiquity and its afterlife, in particular its formative effect on Christianity in late antiquity as well as the cultural relations between the Mediterranean and the Orient, and conveyed it to a wider audience in presentations that are also accessible to non-experts.

The focus of Dihle's research, which is decidedly classical, cultural and not in the narrow sense philological and literary studies, is the cultural relations between antiquity and the Orient, patristics and the relations between antiquity and Christianity, ancient philosophy and rhetoric, grammar and specialist literature, Homer, the ancient biography and the Greek drama as well as the conceptual history. In addition to strictly scientific studies, his work contains numerous publications that address a broader audience and thus take into account the idea that research in the humanities has to make a contribution to the self-understanding of society and without this would lose its legitimacy, since science is about the continuation of the cultural tradition of which it is a prerequisite and of which it is a part. To be mentioned here are various writings on ancient ethics, but above all the two widely read literary stories that have been translated into foreign languages ​​several times, a history of Greek literature and a history of Greco-Latin literature of the Roman Empire, whose innovative achievement consists in the fact that it is translated through Disclosure of the inadequate conception of linguistically bound national literature for the first time does justice to the bilingualism of the imperial culture. Dihle also made an important contribution to “coming to terms” with the Nazi past of classical studies and the necessary reflection on one's own role through his participation as a contemporary witness and in an extensive review of the relevant book by Cornelia Wegeler .


Since 1975 Dihle was a full member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences ; from 1980 to 1982 he was secretary of her philosophical-historical class, from 1990 to 1994 its president. He was a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen , the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences and Arts , the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres , the British Academy , member of Academia Europaea , foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences , Temporary head of the Commission "Greek Christian Writers" of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences , in whose re-establishment and orientation he was significantly involved after reunification , and honorary member of the Patristic Commission of the Union of German Academies of Sciences , member of the Academy of Non-profit Sciences in Erfurt . Dihle was also a member of the Conseil and Comité scientifique of the Fondation Hardt pour l'étude de l'antiquité classique and from 1967 onwards for several years on the planning advisory board for the higher education system in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Dihle was considered one of the most important classical philologists of his generation. He received an honorary doctorate from the Universities of Bern (Dr. theol. Hc), Athens (Dr. phil. Hc) and Macquarie University in Sydney (Litt. D. hc). Since 1994 he has been a member of the order Pour le mérite for science and arts and since 1997 holder of the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art . In 1997 he received the Reuchlin Prize from the city of Pforzheim . On the occasion of his 65th birthday, his Heidelberg colleague Hubert Petersmann gave a laudation that was published in Ruperto-Carola magazine. At the ceremony for the 85th birthday, the laudation was given by Dihles pupil Oliver Primavesi. At the ceremony for his 90th birthday, the ancient historian Christian Meier paid tribute to the scholar.

Fonts (selection)

List of publications can be found in the Festschriften zum 70th Birthday, pp. 482–493 and for the 85th Birthday, pp. 404–410 (see below in the Literature chapter)

  • Studies on Greek biography. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1956, 2nd edition 1970 (Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class, Series 3, 37).
  • The golden rule. An introduction to the history of ancient and early Christian vulgar ethics . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1962.
  • Controversial data. Investigations into the occurrence of the Greeks in the Red Sea . West German Publishing House, Cologne 1965.
  • The canon of the two virtues. Westdeutscher Verlag, Cologne 1968 (Working Group for Research of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Humanities 144).
  • Homer problems . West German publishing house, Opladen 1970.
  • Euripides' Medea. Winter, Heidelberg 1977 (session reports of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, Philosophical-Historical Class 1977, 5) ISBN 3-533-02646-9 .
  • The prologue of the "Bacches" and the ancient tradition of the Euripides text. Winter, Heidelberg 1981 (session reports of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, Philosophical-Historical Class 1981, 2), ISBN 3-533-02983-2
  • Antiquity and Orient. Collected essays . Winter, Heidelberg 1984, ISBN 3-533-03481-X .
  • The Theory of Will in Classical Antiquity . University of California Press, Berkeley 1982, ISBN 0-520-04059-7 .
    • German version: The concept of will in antiquity . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1985.
  • The creation of the historical biography . Winter, Heidelberg 1987 (session reports of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, Philosophical-Historical Class 1986, 3), ISBN 3-533-03869-6 .
  • Article Holy. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Vol. 14. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 978-3-7772-8835-2 , Sp. 1–63.
  • Greek and Latin Literature of the Imperial Era. From Augustus to Justinian. Beck, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-406-33794-5 , (excerpts online) .
    • English translation: Greek and Latin literature of the Roman Empire. from Augustus to Justinian . Translation by Manfred Malzahn. Routledge, London et al. 1994, ISBN 0-415-06367-1 .
  • Philosophy as an art of living. West German publishing house, Opladen 1990.
  • Greek literary history . Kröner, Stuttgart 1967, 2nd edition Beck, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-406-44450-4 , paperback 3rd edition ibid. 1998, ISBN 3-406-44450-4 , (3rd edition, excerpts online) .
    • English translation: A History of Greek literature from Homer to the Hellenistic period . Transl. by Clare Krojzl. Routledge, London, New York 1994 ISBN 0-415-08620-5 .
  • The Greeks and the strangers . Beck, Munich 1994, (excerpts online) .
  • Humanism and science . Ploetz, Freiburg 1994, ISBN 3-87640-288-3 .
  • From common sense. Winter, Heidelberg 1995 (session reports of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, Philosophical-Historical Class 1995, 1), ISBN 38253-0306-3 .
  • The perception of the foreign in ancient Greece. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003 (reports from the meetings of the Joachim Jungius Society of Sciences, Volume 21, 2), ISBN 3-525-86320-9 .
  • Ancient tradition in Christianity. Lecture on the occasion of the receipt of the Reuchlin Prize by the city of Pforzheim on June 7, 1997. In: Antike und Abendland 45, 1999, pp. 101–110
  • About unity in state and church. In: Christoph Markschies (ed.): Hans Freiherr von Campenhausen: way, work, effect. Winter, Heidelberg 2008, pp. 29–59 (Writings of the Philosophical-Historical Class of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences 43) ISBN 978-3-8253-5395-7 .
  • Hellas and the Orient. Phases of mutual reception. De Gruyter, Berlin et al. 2009 (Justus Wellhausen Lecture 2), ISBN 978-3-11-021956-2 .
  • Georg Schöllgen u. a. (Ed.): Selected small writings on antiquity and Christianity. Aschendorff, Münster 2013 (Yearbook for Antiquity and Christianity, Supplementary Volume 38), Table of Contents , ISBN 978-3-402-10806-2 .


  • Dagmar Drüll: "Dihle, Albrecht". In: Heidelberger Gelehrtenlexikon 1933–1986 . Springer, Berlin et al. 2009, pp. 162–162.
  • Patrick Bahners : From pathos to logos. Dihle and dike diggers. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of February 12, 2020, p. N3.
  • Glenn W. Most , Hubert Petersmann , Adolf Martin Ritter (eds.): Philanthropia kai Eusebeia. Festschrift for Albrecht Dihle on his 70th birthday. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1993, ISBN 3-525-25751-1 (directory of A. Dihles' writings, pp. 482-493).
  • Andrea Jördens , Hans Armin Gärtner , Herwig Görgemanns , Adolf Martin Ritter (eds.): Quaerite faciem eius semper. Studies on the intellectual-historical relationships between antiquity and Christianity. Thank you for Albrecht Dihle on his 85th birthday from the Heidelberg "Church Fathers Colloquium". Kovač, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8300-2749-2 (continuation of the directory of A. Dihles' writings, pp. 404–410).

Web links


  1. ^ Obituary notice in the Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, February 7, 2020; online (accessed February 7, 2020).
  2. Albrecht Dihle. In: Curiae of Science and Art. Retrieved February 9, 2020 .
  3. See Albrecht Dihle: Words of Remembrance. In: Carl Joachim Classen (Ed.): Kurt Latte, Opuscula inedita together with lectures and reports from a conference on the fortieth anniversary of Kurt Latte's death. Saur, Munich Leipzig 2005, pp. 6–12.
  4. ^ Albrecht Dihle:  Schneider, Alfons Maria. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 23, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-428-11204-3 , pp. 284 f. ( Digitized version ).
  5. On the date cf. Drüll, Heidelberger Gelehrtenlexikon (see literature below) p. 161. See digital copy of the Bavarian State Library in Munich . Only a few copies of the typewritten work exist in Bonn, Göttingen, Hamburg and Munich.
  6. Contrary to what one might expect based on the time and the topic, according to the judgment of Patrick Bahners, Vom Pathos zum Logos (see literature below), however , this work is by no means from the time of writing and also about the end of the dictatorship In addition, the spirit of the times, the National Socialist racial ideology or ethnic nationalism , was often left behind . However, Dihle was also "a child of his time" because he "still assigned his own people a self-definition with high requirements for homogeneity". However, this statement does not refer to the zeitgeist of the Nazi dictatorship in the narrower sense. In view of the non-existence of a German nation-state , German national consciousness has always been based on the idea of ​​a cultural nation , i.e. the commonality of language, culture and history, especially since the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire initiated by the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss German Nation (1806), which in turn was anything but a German nation-state .
  7. [1]
  8. ^ Luther Memorials Foundation in Saxony-Anhalt: Stefan Rhein
  9. See Albrecht Dihle, article "Heilig". In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum, Vol. 14. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1988, Sp. 1–63.
  10. Cf. Cornelia Wegeler: "... we say from the international scholarly republic". Classical Studies and National Socialism. The Göttingen Institute for Classical Studies 1921–1962. Böhlau, Vienna et al. 1996. - Review by Albrecht Dihle, in: Göttingische Gelehre Anzeige 249, 1997, pp. 227–244; see. ders., Federal Republic of Germany. Greek philology. In: Graziano Arrighetti et al. (Ed.): La filologia greca e latina nel secolo XX. Atti del Congresso Internazionale, Roma, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, September 17-21, 1984. Giardini, Pisa 1989 (Biblioteca di Studi Antichi 56), vol. 2, pp. 1019-1042.
  12. ^ Curia for Science and Art. The Austrian Decoration of Honor for Science and Art: Entry Albrecht Dihle (with photograph)
  13. Ruperto Carola 40, No. 78, 1988, pp. 153-155.
  14. ^ Ceremony of Heidelberg University for the 85th birthday
  15. ^ Ceremony of Heidelberg University for the 90th birthday