Géza Alfoldy

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Géza Alföldy (right) receives the Creu-de-Sant-Jordi- Prize, photograph from 2001

Géza Alföldy (born June 7, 1935 in Budapest ; † November 6, 2011 in Athens ) was a Hungarian - German ancient historian .


From 1953 to 1958 Géza Alföldy studied at the University of Budapest , where he experienced the Hungarian uprising first hand. From 1957 to 1960 Alföldy worked at the Budapest City Museum . During this time, he received his doctorate in 1959. From 1960 to 1965 he was an assistant at the Institute for Ancient History at the University of Budapest. In 1965 he emigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany and initially worked at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn from 1965 to 1968 . During this time, Alföldy completed his habilitation in 1966 at the University of Bonn , where he was a university lecturer from 1968 to 1970 and finally took up an extraordinary professorship. In the same year he became a full professor for ancient history at the University of Bochum . From 1975 until his retirement in 2002, Alföldy was Professor of Ancient History at Heidelberg University . Important academic students included Johannes Hahn , Jens-Uwe Krause , Karl Strobel , Werner Rieß , Helmut Halfmann and Stefan Link . Even after the chair was filled in 2004, he continued teaching in self-advocacy until 2005; Christian Witschel was his successor . In the following years, Alföldy remained scientifically active.

On November 6, 2011 Alföldy died of a heart attack while visiting the Acropolis of Athens, just a few weeks after the publication of the revised and supplemented new edition of his Roman Social History . He was on his way to Corfu , where he should have been awarded an honorary doctorate from the local university on November 9, 2011 .


Alföldy's main research areas were the history of the Roman Empire , Latin epigraphy , Roman social , military and administrative history, the history of the Roman provinces , the historiography of the imperial era and late antiquity, and Roman prosopography . In the 1990s, Alföldy also dealt with the modern history of his native Hungary. Alföldy's work was shaped by the methodical postulate of an interdisciplinary approach: Epigraphic testimonies must therefore not be viewed as isolated texts, but must be viewed in the context of the archaeological findings, against the background of social, administrative, economic, legal, military and rule-historical framework conditions interpreted and made to speak with regard to a historical question. The methodological competence and the knowledge horizon of a historian working with epigraphic sources should therefore be correspondingly broad, which Alföldy also attached great importance to in teaching.

As part of his epigraphic studies, Géza Alföldy traveled to various countries (Egypt, Albania, Algeria, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Yugoslavia, Libya, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, Hungary and Cyprus) To research inscriptions in the original and to enable his students to encounter the original monuments on site. It was a matter of course for him that a humanities scholar had to be multilingual. In 2003 he acted as historical advisor for the two-part historical film Augustus - My Father the Emperor with Peter O'Toole in the title role.

Through the numerous trips and invitations of scholars to Heidelberg as well as through the close cooperation in research activities, Alföldy built up a very dense network of relationships with specialist colleagues at home and abroad over the years, which, in connection with his extensive publication activities, gives him a high international level Awareness that was reflected in an abundance of related activities. Among other things, Alföldy was visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1972/73), in Rome in 1986 and 2003, in 1991 in Paris and Pécs (there also in 1993), in Poznań in 1992, Budapest in 1993 and in Barcelona in 1997 and 1998. Furthermore, he regularly gave scientific lectures at home and abroad and supervised a large number of young scientists during their doctorate or habilitation (more than a dozen since 1992 alone).

Alföldy also emerged as the co-editor of numerous international specialist magazines and series; Particularly linked to his name are the Heidelberg contributions to ancient history and epigraphic studies (HABES), which he has published since 1986; the internationally renowned series, which is now being continued by Christian Witschel and Angelos Chaniotis , now has almost 60 titles. Alföldy was a corresponding member or honorary member of numerous scientific societies and academies and since 1978 a full member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences . In addition to the Heidelberg Academy, he was active in the scientific organization at many other German research institutions, such as the German Research Foundation and the German Archaeological Institute , as well as at Italian, French and Spanish institutions for research into classical antiquity. In particular, he was the project manager (1992–2007), multiple editor and author of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL) of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences . With the funds of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize , which he was one of the few humanities scholars to receive in 1986, he set up the Heidelberg Epigraphic Database , which he headed from 1986 to 2006.


Honorary doctorates

Further awards

Fonts (selection)


  • Population and Society of the Roman Province of Dalmatia. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 1965.
  • The legionary legations of the Roman armies of the Rhine (= epigraphic studies. Vol. 3, ISSN  0071-0989 = supplements to the Bonn yearbooks. 22). Böhlau, Cologne et al. 1967.
  • The auxiliary troops of the Roman province Germania inferior (= epigraphic studies. Vol. 6). Rheinland-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1968.
  • Fasti Hispanienses. Senatorial officials and officers in the Spanish provinces of the Roman Empire from Augustus to Diocletian. Steiner, Wiesbaden 1969.
  • Personal names in the Roman province of Dalmatia (= contributions to name research. Supplement. NF 4, ISSN  0522-6945 ). Winter, Heidelberg 1969.
  • Flamines provinciae Hispaniae Citerioris (= Anejos de Archivo Español de Arqueología. 6). Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid 1973, ISBN 84-00-03876-2 .
  • Noricum. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London et al. 1974, ISBN 0-7100-7372-0 .
  • Roman social history (= Scientific Paperbacks Social and Economic History. Vol. 8). Steiner, Wiesbaden 1975, ISBN 3-515-02045-4 (4th, completely revised and updated edition. Steiner, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-515-09841-0 ).
  • The Roman inscriptions of Tarraco (= Madrid Researches. Vol. 10). de Gruyter, Berlin 1975, ISBN 3-11-004403-X .
  • Los Baebii de Saguntum (= Servicio de Investigación Prehistórica, Diputación Provincial de Valencia. Serie de Trabajos Varios. 56). Servicio de Investigación Prehistorica - Diputación Provincial de Valencia, Valencia 1977, ISBN 84-500-2286-X .
  • Consulate and senatorial status under the Antonines. Prosopographical investigations on the senatorial leadership class (= Antiquitas . Series 1: Treatises on ancient history. Vol. 27). Habelt, Bonn 1977, ISBN 3-7749-1334-X .
  • The role of the individual in the society of the Roman Empire. Expectations and standards of values (= meeting reports of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. Philosophical-Historical Class . 1980, 8). Winter, Heidelberg 1980, ISBN 3-533-02907-7 .
  • Sir Ronald Syme, "The Roman Revolution" and the German Ancient History (= session reports of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. Philosophical-Historical Class. Born 1983, 1). Winter, Heidelberg 1983, ISBN 3-533-03307-4 .
  • Roman statues in Venetia et Histria. Epigraphic sources (= treatises of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. Philosophical-Historical Class . 1984, Abh. 3). Winter, Heidelberg 1984, ISBN 3-533-03545-X .
  • Roman cities on the New Castilian plateau. A test case for the Romanization (= treatises of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. Philosophical-Historical Class. Born 1987, Dep. 3). Winter, Heidelberg 1987, ISBN 3-533-03936-6 .
  • Ancient slavery. Contradictions, special forms, basic structures (= Thyssen lectures dealing with antiquity. 7). Buchner, Bamberg 1988, ISBN 3-7661-5457-5 .
  • The obelisk in St. Peter's Square in Rome. A historical monument of antiquity (= meeting reports of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. Philosophical-Historical Class. Year 1990, 2). University Press Carl Winter, Heidelberg 1990, ISBN 3-533-04283-9 .
  • The building inscriptions of the aqueduct of Segovia and the amphitheater of Tarraco (= Madrid research. Vol. 19). de Gruyter, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-11-014418-2 .
  • Hungary 1956. Uprising, revolution, struggle for freedom. (= Writings of the Philosophical-Historical Class of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. Vol. 2). Winter, Heidelberg 1997, ISBN 3-8253-0553-8 .
  • The Roman Empire - A Model for a United Europe? (= Jacob Burckhardt talks on Castelen. Vol. 9). Schwabe, Basel 1999, ISBN 3-7965-1362-X .
  • Provincia Hispania superior (= writings of the philosophical-historical class of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. Vol. 19). Winter, Heidelberg 2000, ISBN 3-8253-1009-4 .

Collections of articles

  • Roman society. Selected contributions (= Heidelberg ancient historical contributions and epigraphic studies. Vol. 1). Steiner-Verlag-Wiesbaden, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-515-04610-0 .
  • The crisis of the Roman Empire. History, historiography and consideration of history. Selected contributions (= Heidelberg ancient historical contributions and epigraphic studies. Vol. 5). Steiner, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-515-05189-9 .
  • Studi sull'epigrafia augustea e tiberiana di Roma (= Vetera. Volume 8). Quasar, Rome 1992, ISBN 88-714-0057-7 .
  • Cities, elites and societies in Gallia Cisalpina. Epigraphic-historical investigations (= Heidelberg ancient historical contributions and epigraphic studies. Vol. 30). Steiner, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-515-07633-6 .
  • Estudios tarraconenses . Edited by Diana Gorostidi Pi. Institut Català d'Arqueologia Clàssica, Tarragona 2017, ISBN 978-84-946298-5-3 .
  • The epigraphic culture of the Romans. Studies on their significance, development and research (= Heidelberg ancient historical contributions and epigraphic studies. Volume 50). Edited by Angelos Chaniotis and Christian Witschel. Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-515-12236-8 .


  • with Ferdinand Seibt and Albrecht Timm : Problems of historical science (= history and society. Bochum historical studies. Vol. 5, ZDB -ID 533810-4 ). Pedagogical publishing house Schwann, Düsseldorf 1973.
  • with Silvio Panciera: Inscribed monuments as media of self-representation in the Roman world (= Heidelberg ancient historical contributions and epigraphic studies. Vol. 36). Steiner, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-515-07891-6 .


  • Angelos Chaniotis : Géza Alföldy. In: Yearbook of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences for 2011. Heidelberg 2012, pp. 224–231 ( online ).
  • Werner Eck : Alföldy, Géza. 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 , Sp. 18-22.
  • Inaugural speech by Mr. Géza Alföldy. In: Yearbook of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences for 1978. Heidelberg 1979, pp. 112–115.
  • Uwe Walter : A barrel test on the example. Quite Roman: The ancient historian Géza Alföldy turns seventy. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . June 7, 2005, No. 129, p. 41.
  • Uwe Walter: In the end, signs of gods. Historians of the Empire: On the death of Géza Alföldy. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. November 9, 2011, No. 261, p. 33.

Web links


  1. Obituary on the CIL homepage
  2. ^ Homepage of the Epigraphic Database Heidelberg