August Boeckh

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August Boeckh
August Boeckh, lithograph by C. Fischer after Oscar Begas
Memorial plaque on the house, Dorotheenstrasse 65, in Berlin-Mitte

August Boeckh (often also Böckh , born November 24, 1785 in Karlsruhe , † August 3, 1867 in Berlin ) was a German classical philologist and antiquarian .


August Boeckh was the youngest of six children. His father, Georg Matthäus Boeckh, was a secretary to the court council and imperial notary in the services of the margravial Baden . His brother Christian Friedrich von Boeckh also embarked on a civil service career and became Baden's Minister of Finance (1828) and Prime Minister (1844). His uncle was the theologian and writer Christian Gottfried Boeckh . In 1790, only five years after Boeckh's birth, his father died.

After Boeckh had attended the classical grammar school in Karlsruhe from 1791 , which in his opinion would later be the only access to the university and the classical studies, he first studied Protestant theology in Halle from 1803 at one of the leading universities at the time. But under the impression of the classical philologist Friedrich August Wolf , he broke off his theology studies and began to study philology. In this he received his doctorate on March 15, 1807 with the treatise on ancient music De harmonice veterum . In Halle he also heard from the philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher , whose teaching on Plato impressed him. In 1806/07 he worked as a teacher at the Gray Monastery high school in Berlin.

In October 1807, he was at the University of Heidelberg with the work Specimen editionis Timaei Platonis Dialogi habilitated and appointed associate professor of philology immediately. After he had refused a call to Königsberg in 1809, he was promoted to full professor in 1809. In the same year he married Dorothea Wagemann (1790–1829). After her death in 1830 he married Anna Louisa Taube (1790–1864).

In October 1810 Boeckh received a call to Berlin as a professor of eloquence and classical literature, which he took over at Easter 1811. Next to him were u. a. and Christoph William hoof , Carl Ritter , Friedrich Carl von Savigny and Albrecht Thaer the first professors founded in 1810 Berlin University . August Boeckh held lectures here for more than 120 semesters without interruption, was dean six times and held the office of rector five times (1825/26, 1830/31, 1837/38, 1846/47, 1859/60). In 1812 he founded the "Philological Seminar". In the same year he became a full member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences , which in his opinion should also oversee major projects.

In 1815 he initiated the Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum (CIG), with which the scientifically operated epigraphy began. Here he sifted through the Greek inscriptions that had existed up to that point in a very short time and arranged them according to landscapes. After the first issue of the CIG appeared in 1825 (4 volumes had been published by 1859), the Leipzig philologist Gottfried Hermann expressed his criticism of it. However, Boeckh only worked with copies in his collection of the Greek inscriptions and did not consider it necessary to look at the inscriptions for oneself or to make accurate illustrations of them.

In addition to his interest in theology and philology, Boeckh also dealt with "the exact areas of science". So Boeckh's next work, The Athens State Budget , dealt with "research into prices, wages, interest, income and expenses such as the financial administration of Athens". He wrote this opus on the one hand at the suggestion of Barthold Georg Niebuhr , who had criticized the chapter on the Greek state economy in the last volume of Arnold Heeren's ideas on politics, traffic and trade among the most distinguished peoples of the ancient world , and on the other hand because he originally wanted to present an overall picture of Greek antiquity under the title "Hellen", but got stuck due to a lack of preparatory work in Athens' financial system.

In 1838 the book Metrological Investigations on Weights, Mint Feet and Masses of Antiquity in Their Context was published in Berlin. In it he was the first to provide an overview “of the individual dimensions as well as their emergence and connection as a result of various economic and political developments in the Mediterranean region”, whereby his work was also based on inscriptions. For Reinhard Schumacher, he is considered the founder of historical metrology . What is important is his discovery of the difference between found and intended conditions.

Between 1835 and 1861 he was secretary of the philosophy-historical class of the Berlin Academy . The philosophical-historical class mainly brought together philosophers and historians from all directions, but also philologists, cultural and linguists, theologians, lawyers and economists, psychologists and sociologists.

His teacher FA Wolf had given lectures under the title "Encyclopaedia philologica" in Halle since 1785 and published on this basis the "Presentation of Ancient Studies". A similar introductory series, stretching over 26 lectures, was also given by Boeckh on the subject of “Philological Encyclopedia”. He tied in with Wolf, but at the same time tried to emphasize his changes to his model.

Grave in the Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof in Berlin

He died on August 3, 1867 in Berlin as a result of a stroke as one of the most celebrated scholars of his time. And was buried in the Dorotheenstadt cemetery .

Boeckh was the first to give validity to the higher conception of philology, according to which it should consist in the comprehensive knowledge and reproduction of antiquity in its entirety.

His most important students include Johann Gustav Droysen , Eduard Meier and Karl Otfried Müller , but also the later Africa explorer and geographer Heinrich Barth , who received his doctorate from Boeckh in 1843 with a thesis on the history of trade in Corinth and three years later with a thesis on the ancient world Mediterranean as a cultural entity habilitated .

Honors and memberships

In 1828 he was awarded the 3rd Class Red Eagle Order , 2nd Class in 1840 and 1st Class in 1857. On May 31, 1842, Boeckh was awarded the order Pour le mérite for sciences and arts , in 1862 he was appointed vice-chancellor of the order, on March 13, 1867 he was appointed chancellor of the order. In 1853 he received the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art .

Boeckh was a member of numerous learned societies and academies, such as

On March 15, 1857, on the occasion of his 50th service anniversary, he became an honorary citizen of Berlin . The Böckhstrasse in Berlin-Kreuzberg and Karlsruhe are named after him. In 2005, the August Boeckh Antikezentrum named after him was founded as an interdisciplinary center of the Humboldt University for Classical Studies.

Publications (selection)

Major works

  • The state budget of the Athenians . 2 volumes, Realschulbuchhandlung, Berlin 1817 (English translation by George Cornewall Lewis , London 1828; 2nd edition 1842; French translation by A. Laligant, Paris 1828); 2nd edition Reimer, Berlin 1851-1852; 3rd edition 1886 (edited by Max Fraenkel ).
  • Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum . 2 volumes, Berlin 1828–1843 (volumes 3 and 4 by Johannes Franz , Ernst Curtius and Adolf Kirchhoff ; index volume by Hermann Röhl ).
  • Metrological investigations into weights, coin feet and measures of antiquity . Veit, Berlin 1838 (printed in: Staatshaushaltung der Athener , 2nd edition 1851–1852).
  • Documents on the sea of ​​the Attic state . Reimer, Berlin 1840 (printed in: Staatshaushaltung der Athen , 2nd edition 1851–1852).

Translations / editions

  • with Georg Ludolf Dissen : Pindari opera quae supersunt . 2 volumes in 4 parts, Weigel, Leipzig 1811–1821.
  • Sophocles Antigone, Greek and German . Veit, Berlin 1843 (2nd edition Leipzig 1884).

Smaller fonts

The memoirs of the Berlin Academy, the dissertations of the Philological Society and other journals also contain numerous essays by Boeckh. In addition, as professor of eloquence at the university and first secretary of the Berlin Academy, he has given a number of excellent speeches in Latin and German. These small writings were published collectively by Ferdinand Ascherson , Ernst Bratuscheck and Paul Eichholtz (Leipzig 1858–1874, 7 volumes). Boeckh also played a major role in the new edition of the works of Frederick the Great . In 1877, Bratuscheck published the Encyclopedia and Methodology of the Philological Sciences from the original booklets of his lectures held between 1809 and 1865 .

  • In Platonis qui vulgo fertur Minoem eiusdemque libros priores de legibus commentatio . Hall 1806 ( digitized ).
  • Graecae tragoediae principum, Aeschyli, Sophoclis, Euripidis, num ea quae supersunt et genuina omnia sint . Heidelberg 1808.
  • The meter of Pindar . Berlin 1809.
  • De metris Pindari, libri III. quibus praecepta artis metricae & musices graecorum docentur; cum notis criticis in Pindari carmina . Weigel, Leipzig 1814 ( digitized version ).
  • Philolaos of the Pythagorean Philolaos teachings along with the fragments of his work . Vossische Buchhandlung, Berlin 1819 ( digitized version ).
  • Manetho and the dog star period. A contribution to the history of the pharaohs . Berlin 1845 (first in: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft 2, 1844, pp. 385–556).
  • Investigations into the cosmic system of Plato . Berlin 1852.
  • On the history of the Hellenic lunar cycles . Leipzig 1855.
  • Epigraphic-chronological studies. Second contribution to the history of the lunar cycles of the Hellenes . Leipzig 1856 (= separate print from: Year Books for Classical Philology Supplement Volume 2, 1856–1857, pp. 1–176).
  • About the four-year solar circles of the ancients, especially the Eudoxic ones. A contribution to the history of the calculation of time and the calendar system of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans . Berlin 1863.
  • Encyclopedia and Methodology of Philological Sciences . Teubner, Leipzig 1877 ( ).


  • Antiquarian letters from A. Böckh, IW Loebell, Th. Panofka, F. von Raumer and H. Ritter . Edited by Friedrich von Raumer . Brockhaus, Leipzig 1851.
  • Correspondence between August Böckh and Karl Otfried Müller . Teubner, Leipzig 1883 ( ).
  • Friedrich Schleiermacher's correspondence with August Boeckh and Immanuel Bekker 1806–1820 . Edited by Heinrich Meisner . Literature Archive Society, Berlin 1916.
  • Alexander von Humboldt / August Böckh. Correspondence . Edited by Romy Werther. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-05-005053-9 .


  • Rudolf Heinrich Klausen : A. Böckh's biography . In: SFW Hoffmann (eds.): Friedrich Jacobs, August Böckh, Karl Zell, Angelo Poliziano (= life pictures of famous humanists 1). Böhme, Leipzig 1837, pp. 29-62 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).
  • Ernst von Leutsch : August Boeckh's doctoral anniversary . In: Philologus 11, 1856, pp. 791-802 ( ).
  • Ferdinand Ascherson : August Boeckh's 50th anniversary as a doctor on March 15, 1857 . In: Yearbooks for Classical Philology 3, 1857, pp. 225-263 ( digitized version ).
  • Karl Bernhard StarkBoeckh, August . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1875, pp. 770-783.
  • Max Hoffmann: August Böckh. Biography and selection from his academic correspondence . Teubner, Leipzig 1901 ( ).
  • Walther Vetter:  Boeckh, August. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1955, ISBN 3-428-00183-4 , p. 366 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Bernd Schneider: August Böckh, antiquarian, university teacher and science organizer in Berlin in the 19th century. Exhibition for the 200th birthday (= State Library of Prussian Cultural Heritage, exhibition catalog 26). Reichert, Wiesbaden 1985, ISBN 3-88226-265-6 .
  • August Boeckh (1785-1867). Researcher, university professor, contemporary witness (= scientific journal of the Humboldt University in Berlin, social science series 36, issue 1). Berlin 1987; therein u. a.
    • Peter Musiolek : August Boeckh and the ancient economic history . Pp. 26-28.
    • Reinhard Schumacher: August Boeckh and historical metrology . Pp. 46-49.
    • Cornelia Warnke: Why did August Boeckh write the “Athens State Budget”? Scientific historical facts and considerations . Pp. 34-40.
  • Helmuth Schneider : August Boeckh . In: Michael Erbe (Ed.): Berlinische Lebensbilder. Humanities scholar . Colloquium-Verlag, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-7678-0728-9 , pp. 37-54.
  • Axel Horstmann : Ancient theory and modern science. August Boeckh's conception of philology. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, New York, Paris, Vienna 1992 (revised habilitation thesis, University of Hamburg 1986)
  • Wilfried Nippel (ed.): About the study of ancient history . dtv, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-423-04583-3 , pp. 104-107, 148-160.
  • Ernst Vogt , Axel Horstmann: August Böckh's work as a challenge for our time . Two lectures with a foreword by Ursula Schaefer (= Humboldt University of Berlin, public lectures 93). Berlin 1998 ( digitized version ).
  • Klara Vanek:  Boeckh, August (Böckh). In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 19, Bautz, Nordhausen 2001, ISBN 3-88309-089-1 , Sp. 180-189.
  • Thomas Poiss: The endless task. August Boeckh as the founder of the Philological Seminar . In: Annette M. Baertschi, Colin Guthrie King (ed.): The modern fathers of antiquity. The development of ancient studies at the academy and university in 19th century Berlin (= Transformations of Antiquity 3). De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-019077-9 , pp. 45-72.
  • Matthias Hanses: Boeckh, August. In: Peter Kuhlmann , Helmuth Schneider (Hrsg.): History of the ancient sciences. Biographical Lexicon (= The New Pauly . Supplements. Volume 6). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2012, ISBN 978-3-476-02033-8 , Sp. 119-122.
  • Christiane Hackel, Sabine Seifert (Eds.): August Boeckh. Philology, Hermeneutics and Science Policy . Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-8305-3141-8 ( table of contents ).

Web links

Commons : August Boeckh  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: August Böckh  - Sources and full texts


  1. Gottfried Hermann: About Professor Böckh's treatment of the Greek inscriptions . Leipzig 1826 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).
  2. ^ August Boeckh at the Order Pour le Mérite .
  3. Hans Körner: The Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art and its members . In: Zeitschrift für Bayerische Landesgeschichte 47, 1984, pp. 299–398, here p. 366 ( digitized version ).
  4. Prof. Dr. August Böckh , member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.
  5. ^ Foreign members of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1724. Philipp August Boeckh. Russian Academy of Sciences, accessed July 29, 2015 (in Russian).
  6. Böckhstrasse. In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert ) in the professors' quarter