Dieter Timpe

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Dieter Timpe (born November 3, 1931 in Halle an der Saale ; † April 19, 2021 ) was a German ancient historian . He taught from 1964 until his retirement in 1997 as a professor of ancient history at the University of Würzburg . In the professional world, Timpe emerged with studies on ancient historiography, the Roman principate , the external relations of Rome and the Germanic peoples.

Live and act

From 1950 Dieter Timpe studied classical philology and history at the universities of Berlin , Basel and Freiburg i. Br. In 1956 he received his doctorate with the dissertation Investigations on the Continuity of the Early Principate in Freiburg with Herbert Nesselhauf . It was the first doctorate in ancient history since 1933. In 1963 he completed his habilitation on the history of political relations between the Roman and Parthian empires . A year later he became a professor at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel , but in the same year he switched to the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg for the winter semester . Timpe taught there from the winter semester of 1964 until his retirement in 1997 as a professor of ancient history.

The focus of his academic work included ancient historiography, Roman-Germanic relations and ancient Christianity. Timpe wrote numerous standard works on the early Principate's time, which mainly dealt with the Varus Battle , Publius Quinctilius Varus , Arminius and the recall of Germanicus in 16. The beginning of the offensives of Drusus in 12 BC He did not see it as a prelude to “imperialist aggressiveness”, but as a basis for measures to secure the borders of Gaul . He examined the time from the departure of Tiberius from Germania to the governorship of Varus and came to the conclusion that between 4 and 9 "the civilizational development and thus the political penetration of the country was advanced". He could lean on Cassius Dio . More recently, excavations in Lahnau-Waldgirmes have supported his thesis. He broadened his research on Germania politics even further. He also dealt with the ethnological concept formation in antiquity, the meaning and problematic of the Germanic term over the Cimbrian tradition up to the Batavian uprising in the view of Tacitus .

In 1970, Timpe first put forward the thesis in his Arminius studies that the Cheruscan prince Arminius was in fact the leader of regular Roman auxiliary units. This was kept secret under the Roman Emperor Augustus in order to distract from the fact that the rebellion came from the midst of his own army. This would have called into question one of the basic pillars of the Augustan strategy, namely the support and use of larger (Germanic) auxiliary troops. The view that mutinous Germanic auxiliaries were at least involved in the fighting against the Romans is shared by most historians today.

Timpe was elected a full member of the Philosophical-Historical Class of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in 1969. He was also a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences (from 1990) and a full member of the German Archaeological Institute . The Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg awarded him an honorary doctorate . Dieter Timpe died in April 2021 at the age of 89.


Essay collections

  • Roman-Germanic encounter in the late republic and early imperial times. Requirements - confrontations - effects. Collected studies (= contributions to antiquity. Vol. 233). Saur, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-598-77845-2 ( review ).
  • Ancient historiography. Studies on historiography. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2007, ISBN 978-3-534-19353-0 .


  • Studies on the Continuity of the Early Principate. Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 1962.
  • History of the political relations between the Roman and Parthian empires. Habilitation thesis, Freiburg i. Br. 1963.
  • The triumph of Germanicus. Investigations into the campaigns of 14-16 AD in Germania. Habelt, Bonn 1968.
  • Arminius studies. Winter, Heidelberg 1970.
  • Romano-Germanica. Collected studies on the Germania of Tacitus. Teubner, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-519-07428-1 .
  • Roman history and salvation history (= Hans Lietzmann lectures. Vol. 5). De Gruyter, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-11-016942-8 .


  • Hans Erich Stier : Book review on Dieter Timpe's Arminius studies. In: Lippe messages from history and regional studies. Volume 41, 1972, p. 371 f.

Web links


  1. See advertisement on the website of the Institute for Ancient History at the University of Würzburg
  2. Eckhard Wirbelauer: Ancient History and Classical Archeology. In: Eckhard Wirbelauer (ed.): The Freiburg Philosophical Faculty 1920–1960. Members - Structures - Networking (= Freiburg contributions to the history of science and universities. NF Vol. 1). Freiburg (Breisgau) 2006, pp. 111-237, here p. 124.
  3. Dieter Timpe: On the history of the Rhine border between Caesar and Drusus. In: Eckard Lefèvre (Ed.): Monumentum Chiloniense. Studies on the Augustan Period. Amsterdam 1975, pp. 124-174.
  4. Dieter Timpe: On the history and tradition of the occupation of Germania under Augustus. In: Saeculum 18, 1967, pp. 278-293, here: p. 289.
  5. Member entry by Prof. Dr. Dieter Timpe (with picture) at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , accessed on February 25, 2016.
  6. Member entry at the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen