Eduard North

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Eduard Norden as a student in Berlin (1888)

Eduard Norden (born September 21, 1868 in Emden , † July 13, 1941 in Zurich ) was a German classical philologist and religious historian .

Education and early career

Eduard Norden came from an assimilated Jewish family. His father Carl Joseph Norden (1836-1903) was a respected physician.

Shortly before graduating from high school, he converted to Protestantism and then studied classical philology from 1886 to 1890 . He spent two semesters in Berlin , where he heard from Hermann Diels , Theodor Mommsen , Carl Robert and Eduard Zeller . He then moved to the University of Bonn . Here his teachers Hermann Usener and especially the Latinist Franz Bücheler shaped him . He received his doctorate from Bücheler on February 14, 1891 , passed the teaching examination on June 20, 1891 and then went to Strasbourg as Georg Kaibel's assistant . Just one year after receiving his doctorate (December 17, 1892), he completed his habilitation there on the subject of contributions to the history of Greek philosophy .

His career advanced extraordinarily quickly, and in 1893 he was appointed associate professor in Greifswald , and in 1895 he was finally appointed full professor there.

In his book Antike Kunstprosa , published in 1898, Norden showed a particular interest in rhetoric, rhetorical stylistic devices and the use of rhetorical elements in the prose of Greek and Latin authors. In 1899 he was appointed to Wroclaw as a colleague of Franz Skutsch . There he began to deal intensively with Virgil's " Aeneid " . In 1903 this resulted in a much-noticed commentary on the 6th book of this work, which particularly demonstrates North's interest in religious studies.

Berlin years

Memorial plaque on the house, Baseler Strasse 64, in Berlin-Lichterfelde

In 1906, during his only stay in Greece - in contrast to Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff , Norden was of the opinion that personal knowledge of the topography of Greece was not necessary - he was finally appointed as successor to Adolf Kirchhoff in Berlin, where he remained until his retirement in 1935 taught. In addition to the classical philology chair (one of three at the university), Norden immediately became head of the Institute for Classical Studies. Nord's vocation was not without controversy and was partly accompanied by personal animosities from circles of the specialist staff. Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, for example, initially favored Friedrich Leo . After this had canceled, the ministerial director Friedrich Althoff , who was responsible for the appointment of professors , enforced Norden against Georg Wissowa, who was also discussed . Despite Wilamowitz-Moellendorff's original rejection, a fruitful dialogue began with this and other important Berlin colleagues such as Hermann Diels and Eduard Meyer .

Eduard Norden as full professor in Berlin (1908)

In 1912, at the suggestion of Wilamowitz-Moellendorff , the Prussian Academy of Sciences accepted the North as a full member to succeed the late Johannes Vahlen . In the academy he was responsible for the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae . As a successor to Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Norden also moved up to the central management of the German Archaeological Institute . In 1913, Norden combined his two great interests - rhetoric and religious studies - in the book Agnostos Theos . Here he not only limited himself to a Greek and Latin history of forms of religious speeches, but also included the Jewish, early Christian, ancient Egyptian and ancient oriental worlds. At the beginning of the 1920s he tried to take part in the reorganization of the Berlin Classical Philology and in 1921 probably wanted to prevent Werner Jaeger from being appointed as Wilamowitz-Moellendorff successor. Since there were hardly any suitable young Graecists - and in order to strengthen his own specialization in Latin Studies - he favored a Latinist as the successor to the Graecist Diels. In 1928, Norden celebrated his 60th birthday in the office of Rector of Berlin University.

Life in the time of National Socialism

With the seizure of power by the National Socialists , the position of the north deteriorated noticeably. North was himself a supporter of Hitler. At least that's what he said in a letter to his student Erich Koestermann : “It looks pretty sad. The feeling of being a second-class citizen, so to speak, is bitter [...] But what matters to the individual if only the national whole is consolidated [...] I love the helmsman Hitler, in spite of everything, like you. " Assistants Friedrich Solmsen and Richard Walzer replaced by non-Jews. On August 27, 1934, Norden took the oath of allegiance. Nevertheless, due to the National Socialist racial laws , he was gradually removed from all bodies to which he belonged. Among other things, he was excluded from the board of directors of the German Archaeological Institute in 1934. Since in the winter of 1934/35, due to a new retirement law, the retirement age was generally reduced from 68 to 65, but Norden had already reached the age of 65 in 1933, he retired in February 1935. His successor at the Berlin chair was his friend, Latinist Johannes Stroux , who began teaching in the summer of 1936. In the certificate of dismissal signed by the “Führer and Reich Chancellor”, Norden was expressed “recognition” and “special thanks” for “the successful academic effectiveness and the loyal service rendered to the Reich”. However, in December 1935, the license to teach at the university was withdrawn from Norden due to the Nuremberg Race Laws. In mid-October 1938 he had to leave the Prussian Academy of Sciences. At the end of the year he resigned from the Academy of Sciences in Vienna , of which he had been a corresponding member.

After the “ Reichspogromnacht ”, Norden saw no future for itself in Germany. He had to sell part of his library in order to fulfill the “ Ordinance on the Atonement of Jews of German Nationality ”, according to which Jews had to give up 20% of their property. On 30 November 1938 he submitted a leave application for Switzerland and sold in January 1939 and his Berlin home. After bail from his cousin Carl Lucas Norden , he received a residence permit for Switzerland at the end of April. Only a few weeks before the start of the Second World War , on July 5th, he was able to emigrate to Switzerland with his wife. From there he published his last work, From Ancient Roman Priestly Books , which appeared in Lund . Norden died in Zurich in 1941. There he found his final resting place in the Enzenbühl cemetery .

Eduard Norden was married to Marie Schultze, the daughter of the former Mayor of Greifswald Richard Schultze . They had six children (Irmgard 1898–1969, Erwin 1900–1981, Werner * 1901, Ulrich * 1903, Gerda * 1909), a son born in 1902 died after just 2 months.

Eduard Nord's brother Walter Norden was a medievalist and local scientist.


In addition to the above-mentioned bodies, Norden was a member of the Church Fathers Commission of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and the academies in Gothenburg , Göttingen , Leningrad , Lund, Naples and Vienna . Furthermore, he was a corresponding member of the Strasbourg Scientific Society in Heidelberg from 1920 , and from 1932 a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences . In 1909 he was awarded the Order of the Red Eagle, IV class. The University of Cambridge recognized him with the award of an honorary doctorate (D.Litt. Hc) on June 4, 1929. On the occasion of the award of the honorary doctorate in 1936, the President of Harvard University , James Bryant Conant , called him " the most famous Latinist in the world ".

Eduard Norden, who was one of the most influential scholars of antiquity of his time, laid the foundations for modern rhetoric research in the 20th century and introduced religious studies into classical philology. In personal contact, however, it should not have been easy.


  1. ^ In: Yearbooks for Classical Philology. Supplement volume 19, 1893, pp. 365-460 ( digitized at ).
  2. Wilt Aden Schröder: North, Eduard. In: Martin Tielke (Hrsg.): Biographisches Lexikon für Ostfriesland. II, Aurich 1997, p. 264.
  3. ^ A b c d Eckart Mensching: Nugae for the history of philology V. Eduard Norden on the 50th anniversary of his death. University library of the Technical University of Berlin Publications Department, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-7983-1475-6 .
  4. ^ Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer : The Academy of Sciences in Vienna in the Third Reich . In: Eduard Seidler u. a. (Ed.): The nation's elite in the Third Reich. The relationship of academies and their scientific environment to National Socialism (= Acta historica Leopoldina. 22). Halle / Saale 1995, pp. 133–159, there 137.
  5. the most famous Latinist of the world archive link ( Memento from March 6, 2012 in the web archive ).

Fonts (selection)

  • De Minucii Felicis aetate et genere dicendi. In: Scientific supplement to the course catalog of the University of Greifswald. Easter 1897 ( digitized in the digital library Mecklenburg-Vorpommern)
  • The ancient art prose from VI. Century BC Until the Renaissance. Two volumes, Teubner, Leipzig 1898. Vol. 1 , Vol. 2 ; 3rd edition 1915 Vol. 1 , Vol. 2
  • P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneis Book VI , explained by Eduard Norden, Teubner, Leipzig 1903; 2nd edition 1916.
  • Introduction to Classical Studies (edited with Alfred Gercke ), Teubner, Berlin / Leipzig, three volumes in several sub-volumes, 1910–1927.
    • therein: Roman literature. 1910. 3rd edition 1923. 7th edition (supplemented reprint of the 3rd edition) Teubner, Stuttgart 1998.
  • Agnostos theos. Investigations into the history of forms of religious speech , Teubner, Leipzig - Berlin 1913.
  • Ennius and Vergilius. War images from the great days of Rome , Teubner, Leipzig / Berlin 1915.
  • The Germanic prehistory in Tacitus Germania , Leipzig / Berlin 1920 ( online ).
  • "The Birth of the Child". History of a Religious Idea , 1924 (several editions).
  • Logos and Rhythm , Decker, Berlin 1928.
  • From ancient Roman priestly books, Gleerup, Lund, 1939 (unchanged. New edition with an afterward by John Scheid: Teubner, Stuttgart 1995).
  • The quote from Genesis in Scripture on the sublime . Treatises of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin . Language, Literature and Art Class. Born 1954 No. 1. Akademie-Verlag Berlin 1955.
  • Small writings on classical antiquity (edited by Bernhard Kytzler ), de Gruyter, Berlin 1966.


Web links

Commons : Eduard Norden  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Eduard Norden  - Sources and full texts