Franz Dornseiff

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Franz Dornseiff (born March 20, 1888 in Gießen , † May 22, 1960 in Markkleeberg ) was a German classical scholar .


The son of a judge studied from 1906 classical philology and German at the universities of Heidelberg, Munich, Berlin, Strasbourg and Freiburg. During the First World War, during which he temporarily served as an interpreter, he received his doctorate in 1916 under Franz Boll in Heidelberg. In 1920 he completed his habilitation at the University of Basel and in the following years worked as a private lecturer in Basel and as a teacher at a grammar school in Lörrach. In 1925, Dornseiff became a scheduled associate professor for classical philology at the University of Berlin .

As the successor to Kurt Latte , he was appointed to the chair of Classical Philology at the University of Greifswald in 1926 , which he held until the end of the war in 1945.

In the Nazi state he was not considered to be "racially pure" because of Jewish ancestors in the maternal line and was aloof from the regime. He was also attacked because of his references to the oriental "Semitic" roots of Greek culture ("The world did not start with the Greeks"). He spoke out against the elimination of foreign words from the German vocabulary.

From the end of 1945 he held a chair in Erlangen . In 1947 he returned to his old chair in Greifswald, but in 1948 he switched to the University of Leipzig . In Leipzig he was also director of the Philological Institute.

Franz Dornseiff grave

Dornseiff had been a full member of the German Archaeological Institute since 1940 and of the Saxon Academy of Sciences since 1949 . In 1959 he received the GDR National Prize .


Dornseiff's translation and commentary on the Greek poet Pindar is considered to be groundbreaking.

Dornseiff became known to a wider public primarily through his work Der deutsche Wortschatz nach Sachgruppen , first published in 1934 . In contrast to classic semasiological dictionaries , he did not organize the vocabulary alphabetically but according to subject groups. Dornseiff's vocabulary according to subject groups is still the most important onomasiological dictionary in the German language. The last edition edited by Dornseiff was the fifth from 1959 with a volume of 524 pages of headwords - divided into 896 subject groups according to 20 categories - and indexed with a 400-page index. The plant and animal species alone (in their Latin scientific and colloquial names) comprised 120 very tightly printed pages. Dornseiff's introduction to the presentation of vocabulary and designation theory and the list of the books evaluated take up a further 160 pages. After his death, the vocabulary was modernized and greatly streamlined. In particular, idioms, dialect names and colloquial expressions were omitted. The vocabulary portal of the University of Leipzig lists u. a. for each search word, if available, also the Dornseiff meaning groups .

Fonts (selection)

  • Letter mysticism . Dissertation, Heidelberg University, 1916.
  • The alphabet in mysticism and magic (= Stoicheia: Studies on the history of the ancient worldview and Greek science. Edited by Franz Boll . Issue 7). Leipzig 1922.
  • The archaic myth-telling. Conclusions from the Homeric Apollo hymn. De Gruyter, Berlin / Leipzig 1933.
  • The German vocabulary according to subject groups. De Gruyter, Berlin / Leipzig 1933–1940; 8th edition: De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2004, ISBN 3-11-017921-0 .
  • Again the Homeric Apollo hymn. A counter-criticism (= Greifswald contributions to literature and style research. Issue 8). Dallmeyer, Greifswald 1935.
  • Authenticity issues in ancient Greek literature. Rescues of Theognis, Phokylides, Hekataios, Choirilos. De Gruyter, Berlin 1939.
  • The Greek words in German. De Gruyter, Berlin 1950.
  • Disapproved of Virgil, Horace and Properz. Academy, Berlin 1951.


  • Horst Kusch (Ed.): Festschrift. Franz Dornseiff on his 65th birthday. Bibliographical Institute, Leipzig 1953.
  • Jürgen Werner (Ed.): Franz Dornseiff in memoriam. Colloquium of the “Ancient Literature / Neo-Greek Studies” department of the Karl Marx University in Leipzig on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of Franz Dornseiff. Hakkert, Amsterdam 1986, ISBN 90-256-878-7 .
  • Jürgen Werner : "The world didn't start with the Greeks". Franz Dornseiff (1888–1960) as a classical philologist and as a Germanist (= treatises of the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig. Philological-Historical Class. Volume 76, Issue 1). Hirzel, Stuttgart et al. 1999, ISBN 3-7776-0959-5 .
  • Meinrad Welker: Lexicon Greifswalder Hochschullehrer 1907 to 1932 (= Lexicon Greifswalder Hochschullehrer 1775 to 2006. Volume 3). Bock, Bad Honnef 2004, ISBN 3-87066-931-3 , pp. 46-47.
  • Jürgen Werner: Franz Dornseiff †. In: Gnomon . Volume 32, 1960, pp. 779-782.
  • Ronny Kaiser: Dornseiff, Franz. In: Peter Kuhlmann , Helmuth Schneider (Ed.): History of the ancient sciences. Biographical Lexicon (= The New Pauly . Supplements. Volume 6). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2012, ISBN 978-3-476-02033-8 , Sp. 320 f.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Accessed online, for example: German vocabulary . University of Leipzig , Institute for Computer Science, Language Processing Department. 1998-2007