Felix Jacoby

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Felix Jacoby (born March 19, 1876 in Magdeburg , † November 10, 1959 in Berlin ) was a German classical philologist .


Felix Jacoby was born the son of the wealthy Jewish grain merchant Oscar Jacoby (1831-1919) and his wife Gertrude, née Löwenthal (1856-1929). At the age of eleven he was baptized a Protestant. Perhaps his parents wanted to make his later professional career easier for him. In 1894 he passed his A-levels at the pedagogy for the monastery of Our Dear Women in Magdeburg.

Jacoby studied in Freiburg / Breisgau (1894), Munich (1894–1896, interrupted by military service) and Berlin (from 1896) classical philology. He received his doctorate in 1900 in Berlin with Hermann Diels with an extensive Latin thesis on Apollodorus of Athens . However, since the oral examination was only graded cum laude , a further academic career in Berlin was excluded. But thanks to Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff's mediation , who accepted a German version of the dissertation for his series of publications on Philological Studies ( Apollodors Chronik. Eine Sammlung der Frage . Berlin 1902), Jacoby was able to gain influence with Eduard Norden at the University of Breslau in 1903 with one that is still today Habilitation thesis on the marble Parium ( Das Marmor Parium published and explained . Berlin 1904).

In 1901 he married Margarete Johanne von der Leyen (1875–1956). With her he had the sons Hans (1902–1980) and Eduard Georg (sociologist; 1904–1978) as well as the daughter Annemarie (1905–?). Jacoby became a private lecturer in Breslau and from 1905 wrote numerous articles for the Realencyklopadie der classical antiquity , of which the extensive contribution to Herodotus stands out ( RE Suppl . 2, Berlin 1913, Sp. 205-520, sv Herodotos [7] ). In 1906 he received an extraordinary and in 1907 a full professorship for Classical Philology (with a focus on Latin Studies ) at the University of Kiel . Between 1915 and 1918 he took part in the First World War as a soldier in a field artillery regiment.

In 1923 Jacoby became a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen , and in 1931 of the Prussian Academy of Sciences . Politically, Jacoby, like his older friend and colleague Eduard Norden, ranged from a conservative to a German nationalist attitude and was deeply rooted in the thinking of the imperial era. Like him, he does not seem to have initially opposed the National Socialist seizure of power. There are voices from Jacoby's circle of students and acquaintances who affirm Jacoby's affinity for National Socialism, as well as those who categorically exclude this.

On April 23, 1933, Jacoby's name appeared in a list published by the Kieler Zeitung of Kiel university lecturers who were unpopular under the new regime. For according to National Socialist ideology, which was reflected a little later in the Nuremberg Laws , Jacoby was considered a Jew; In 1934 he was forced to give up his chair in Kiel. Jacoby's formal dismissal was prevented by a resignation petition. The following year he settled in Finkenkrug near Berlin with the family of his son Hans in order to continue his scientific work. Until 1938 it was still possible for him to use the State Library in Berlin for his work. After his house was attacked and damaged by an SA troop during the " Reichspogromnacht " and his life's work, which was kept in note boxes, escaped destruction by accident, Jacoby decided to emigrate and emigrated to England with his wife in April 1939, where he became active at the University of Oxford thanks to the intercession of his former colleague Eduard Fraenkel in Kiel . In 1945 he was elected a corresponding member of the British Academy . In 1948 the University of Kiel made him an honorary senator, but it was not until 1953 that he finally received his retirement benefits as emeritus.

In 1956 Jacoby returned to Germany and settled in Berlin-Dahlem . In the same year, Oxford University awarded him an honorary doctorate. His 80th birthday was accompanied by the publication of his scattered writings on historiography ( Treatises on Greek historiography , Leiden 1956) and a commemorative publication with contributions primarily from his Kiel students. Shortly before his death, he became an external member of the Accademia delle Scienze di Torino .


Jacoby already dealt with Greek historiography during his doctorate and habilitation . On August 8, 1908, in front of a small auditorium in Berlin, he presented his plan for a new collection of fragments of Greek historians , which a year later was made known to a further specialist audience in writing. The collection was intended to replace Karl Müller's outdated collection of the Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum (Paris 1841–73) and to organize the remains of the otherwise lost ancient Greek historians according to a developmental principle (mostly passed down through quotations from preserved authors) . Jacoby mistakenly assumed that the work could be completed within a few years. The division of the authors into mythography / genealogy (section 1), contemporary history (section 2), local history / ethnography (section 3) was accordingly based on Jacoby's view of the genesis of Greek historiography. From the 1920s onwards, after extensive preparatory work, the work that was to establish its scientific fame, the numerous volumes of the collection The Fragments of the Greek Historians , was created in Kiel . The first volume was published in 1923 by Verlag Weidmann (Berlin). When the collaboration with this publisher came to an end for political reasons in 1938, Jacoby switched with the fragments to the publisher EJ Brill (Leiden), where the next volume could appear in 1940.

Jacoby continued working on the volumes during his time in Oxford and until his death. The comments on the Attic local historians ( atthidographers ), which Jacoby wrote in English, were particularly detailed . As a side piece and introduction to it, he published the monograph Atthis (Oxford 1949). The monumental work of the Greek historian fragments, which remained unfinished and is now being continued (see below), is still an indispensable tool for philologists and ancient historians around the world. The volumes edited by Jacoby himself comprise 856 authors, 607 of which have been commented on by Jacoby.

Ulrich Schindel writes about Jacoby's life's work: It protrudes like Cyclops into the time of teamwork and computer programs, the final conclusion of a great epoch of classical philology in Germany .

Jacoby also wrote several articles on Greek historians for Pauly-Wissowa 's Realencyklopadie , which are still fundamental today ; Among other things, the articles on Herodotus , Ktesias of Knidos , Callisthenes of Olynth and Hieronymos of Kardia come from him. In addition, Jacoby occupied himself with Greek and Latin poetry ( Homer , Hesiod , Theognis , Juvenal , Lucan , Properz , Horace ).


In the preface to the last part of the fragments edited by him , Jacoby had hoped that the overall project would come to an end soon after his death: it pains me that my work on the "fragments" (which was disastrously interrupted by external circumstances) was only the historian In the narrower sense of the word, a torso must remain: unfortunately, my age no longer allows me to submit the long-prepared commentary on the ethnographers part myself. But despite the gloomy prophecy of my teacher and friend Hermann Diels, which I have always vividly remembered, about the plan of an "annotated" collection of historian fragments, which was too ambitious from the outset, I can express the sure hope that this gap will also be filled in the foreseeable future will be . Jacoby had won over Herbert Bloch and Friedrich Gisinger to continue the work .

It was not until 1991, however, before Jacoby's Department 4 (biography and antiquarian literature) began to be realized with the FGrHist Continued published under the aegis of Guido Schepens (Leuven) and Gustav Adolf Lehmann (Göttingen) . Together with Department 5 (Geography) published by Hans-Joachim Gehrke (Berlin) and Brill's New Jacoby , which was developed under Ian Worthington (Missouri), three international projects are currently involved in completing Jacoby's life's work. Added to this is the series I frammenti degli storici greci (FStGr) published by Eugenio Lanzilotta in Rome , which is also in the tradition of Felix Jacoby.

On the return of the 50th anniversary of Felix Jacoby's death on November 10, 2009, the Department of Classical Philology at Humboldt University and the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin honored him with a memorial event.

Since 2012, the Institute for Classical Archeology in Kiel has organized a Felix Jacoby Memorial Lecture every year .

On November 16, 2016, the artist Gunter Demnig laid stumbling blocks for Felix and Margarete Jacoby at Leistikowstrasse 13 in Falkensee - Finkenkrug ( Havelland district ), the couple's last place of residence before they emigrated to England .


  • Carmine Ampolo (Ed.): Aspetti dell 'opera di Felix Jacoby. Edizioni della Normale, Pisa 2006, ISBN 88-7642-179-3 ( table of contents ).
  • Ward W. Briggs , William M. Calder III (Eds.): Classical Scholarship. A Biographical Encyclopedia . Garland, New York NY et al. 1990, ISBN 0-8240-8448-9 , pp. 205-210 ( Garland reference library of the humanities . 928).
  • Christa Kirsten (ed.): The ancient studies at the Berlin Academy. Nominations for the admission of members from FA Wolf to G. Rodenwaldt 1799-1932 . Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1985, p. 182 ( Studies on the history of the Academy of Sciences in the GDR , ISSN  0138-4112 . 5).
  • Eckart Mensching : Texts on the history of Berlin philology IV. Felix Jacoby (1876–1959) and Berlin institutions 1934–1939 . In: Eckart Mensching: Nugae for the history of philology . Volume 2. University Library of the Technical University, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-7983-1265-6 , pp. 17–59.
  • Eckart Mensching: Finkenkrug, New Zealand and Oxford. About Felix Jacoby and his family in 1938/39 . In: Ders .: Nugae on the history of philology . Volume 13. University Library of the Technical University, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-7983-1938-3 , pp. 42–53.
  • Navicula Chiloniensis. Studia philologa Felici Jacoby professori Chiloniensi emerito octogenario oblata . Brill, Leiden 1956.
  • Ulrich SchindelFelix Jacoby. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 10, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-428-00191-5 , p. 252 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Olaf Schlunke: “under the sadly changed world circumstances”. The classical scholar Felix Jacoby in Finkenkrug (1935–1939) . In: Heimatjahrbuch 2010 for Falkensee and the surrounding area , Falkensee 2009, ZDB -ID 2194201-8 , pp. 76–80.
  • Olaf Schlunke: Address about laying the stumbling blocks for Felix and Margarete Jacoby on November 16, 2016 in Finkenkrug . In: Heimatjahrbuch 2018 for Falkensee and the surrounding area , Falkensee 2017, pp. 34–39.
  • Willy Theiler : Obituary for Felix Jacoby . In: Gnomon 32, 1960, pp. 387-391.
  • Annegret Wittram: Fragmenta. Felix Jacoby and Kiel. A contribution to the history of Kiel's Christian Albrechts University . Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2004, ISBN 3-631-52365-3 , ( Kieler Werkstücke . A 28. At the same time: Kiel, Univ., Diss., 2002).
  • Roland Baumgarten: Jacoby, Felix. 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 , Col. 616 f.

Web links


  1. To the PhD Jacoby now: Wolfgang Rösler: Felix Jacobys PhD at the Berlin University . In: Klio . Vol. 92, 2010, Issue 2, pp. 422-427. Apparently Jacoby had annoyed his teacher Diels by pre-empting his plan to create an edition of Apollodor himself.
  2. He disapproved of his son Eduard Georg's proximity to the SPD and his student relationship with the sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies .
  3. In the summer of 1933 Jacoby is said to have opened a Horace lecture with the words: As a Jew, I am in a difficult position. But as a historian, I've learned not to look at historical events from a private perspective. I have elected Adolf Hitler since 1927 and consider myself lucky to be able to read about the poet Augustus in the year of the national uprising . Because Augustus is the only figure in world history who can be compared with Adolf Hitler. Since these words were only handed down in 1977 by a listener of the lecture, Georg Picht , as an example of the confusion of spirits at that time ( Thunderstorm landscape . Memory of Martin Heidegger . In: Merkur 31, 1977, pp. 960–965, here: p. 962), without it becoming plausible as to the circumstances due to which the verbatim reproduction should be possible, the authenticity of the quotation is very controversial. Apart from the fact that there were no elections to the Reichstag in 1927, according to Arnaldo Momigliano's assessment, Jacoby would have called himself neither a historian nor - since he was baptized as a Protestant - a Jew. See Annegret Wittram, Fragmenta (2004), pp. 101-104.
  4. ^ Deceased Fellows. British Academy, accessed June 13, 2020 .
  5. Klio 9, 1909, pp. 80-123.
  6. NDB 10, 1974, p. 253.
  7. Cf. F. Jacoby, Kleine Philologische Schriften . Berlin 1961.
  8. FGrHist III C, Leiden 1958, p. 7 *.
  9. The lectures are published by Verlag Antike ( overview of previously published volumes ).