Eduard Wölfflin

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Eduard (von) Wölfflin (later ennobled; * January 1, 1831 in Basel ; † November 8, 1908 ibid) was a Swiss classical philologist who worked as a lecturer and professor in Zurich (1856-1875), Erlangen (1875-1880) and Munich (1880–1905) worked. The text critic and university professor initiated the monumental company Thesaurus Linguae Latinae , a dictionary of the Latin language of all antiquity, which is still being compiled in Munich today.

Eduard Wölfflin. Photo from Alfred Gudeman , Imagines Philologorum (1911)


Eduard Wölfflin, son of the confectioner and police judge Johann Rudolf Wölfflin (1801–1882), studied classical philology from 1849, first at the University of Basel with Karl Ludwig Roth and Franz Dorotheus Gerlach , then in Göttingen with Karl Friedrich Hermann . Even before completing his doctorate, at Hermann's suggestion, he began a new critical edition of the writings of the historian Polyan , which he only published years later (1860). He achieved his doctorate in 1854 with the dissertation De Lucii Ampelii libro memoriali quaestiones criticae et historicae ("Historical and critical studies on the history book of Lucius Ampelius "), which was dedicated to his teacher Friedrich Wilhelm Schneidewin ; at the same time he published a critical edition of the book.

In the following years Wölfflin worked as a grammar school teacher ( grammar school professor since 1861 ) in Winterthur and published numerous text-critical writings and editions, including Caecilii Balbi de nugis philosophorum quae supersunt (1855), Polyaeni strategicon libri octo (1860), Livian criticism and Livian language usage (1864 ) and Publii Syri sententiae (1869). In addition to his work in the school service, he was employed as a private lecturer at the University of Zurich in 1856 , where he was promoted to associate professor in 1869. In 1871 he was appointed full professor of classical philology and literary history. In 1875 he followed a call to the University of Erlangen .

Eduard Wölfflin-Troll (1831–1908) philologist, Wolfgottesacker cemetery, Basel.  Tomb of stone sculptor Oscar Lippe
Wölfflin family grave on the Wolfgottesacker in Basel

From 1880 to 1905, Wölfflin took the place of his most important effectiveness as a full professor at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich . In 1880 he was also elected a full member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , of which he had been an external member since 1879. In Munich Wölfflin laid the foundation stone for his life's work, the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae . His extensive linguistic studies were the basis for his preparatory work for the project, which he put down in the series Archives for Latin Lexicography and Grammar including the older Middle Latin ; the number of employees rose rapidly from an initial 40 to 250, and from 1884 until Wölfflin's death 15 volumes were published. Gustav Landgraf , who also did his doctorate with him, was one of his employees . At Wölfflin's request, the company received financial support from the Bavarian Academy of Sciences since 1883 and was presented to the Prussian Academy in 1889 with the support of Theodor Mommsen . Finally, due to the enormous size and burden of the company, it was agreed to jointly transfer the thesaurus to the academies in Munich, Berlin, Göttingen , Leipzig and Vienna . In 1893 four founding conferences took place in Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main, Coburg and Berlin, at which Wölfflin and Franz Bücheler presented a financial and work plan and Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff brokered the participation of the Göttingen Academy. At the last decisive conference in Berlin, Wölfflin, Friedrich Leo in Göttingen and Franz Bücheler in Bonn were assigned the preparatory work. The Prussian ministerial official Friedrich Althoff assured the financial support of the (Prussian) academies in Berlin and Göttingen.

In the years that followed, Wölfflin convinced co-directors Leo and Bücheler that concentrating the company at just one workplace would benefit the work. From 1898 to 1899, the thesaurus was located entirely in Munich; After the move was completed, Friedrich Vollmer was appointed as the first general editor. Wölfflin contributed to the articles of the letter A itself and supported the company in 1908 with the Eduard Wölfflin Foundation of 35,000 Swiss francs. For his services he was awarded the Maximilian Order and raised to the personal nobility.

After his death, the company has been carried on to this day; Leo and Bücheler also continued their cooperation until their death. To date, the company is a good two-thirds complete.

The grave of Eduard Wölfflin, his wife Bertha Wölfflin geb. Troll (1839–1911) and her daughter Elisabeth Wölfflin (1863–1939) are on the Wolfgottesacker in Basel. In 1901 the sculptor Hermann Hahn created a marble bust of Eduard von Wölfflin. It has been part of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences since May 13, 2016. Eduard Wölfflin is the father of the art historian Heinrich Wölfflin and the ophthalmologist Ernst Wölfflin .


  • Jacob Wackernagel : † Eduard Wölfflin . In: Sunday paper of Basler Nachrichten 3 No. 46 (November 15, 1908) (= Kleine Schriften III . Göttingen 1979, p. 1494).
  • Oskar Hey: Eduard Wölfflin . In: Bursian's annual reports on the progress of classical antiquity . Volume 155 (1911), 4 (Nekrologe), pp. 103-136.
  • Gustav Meyer (Ed.): Eduard Wölfflin: Selected writings , Berlin 1933. Reprint Hildesheim 1977, ISBN 3-487-06137-6 .
  • Ueli Dill : Wölfflin, Eduard. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . 5th August 2017 .

Web links

Commons : Eduard Wölfflin  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Eduard Wölfflin  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. accessed May 17, 2016