Heinrich Nissen

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Bronze medallion by Albert Küppers on Heinrich Nissen's tomb

Heinrich Nissen (born April 3, 1839 in Hadersleben , † February 29, 1912 in Bonn ) was a German ancient historian .

His parents were Lars Hansen Nissen (1800–1875) and Anna Elisabeth b. Petersen (1801-1878). Heinrich Nissen was the youngest of three children. It is known of his older brother Caspar Nissen that he was a respected doctor, later head of a tropical hospital in Shanghai, died there and received a grave of honor in Hong Kong that still exists today.

Heinrich Nissen attended high school in Meldorf with his brother Caspar in order to be able to grow up in the German-speaking area, because his hometown Hadersleben was then as now in Denmark. As a primary school student , Heinrich Nissen gave a lecture on the 1900th anniversary of Julius Caesar's death as part of the dismissal from high school. The Meldorfer Zeitung reported on this and noted, among other things, that the student Nissen also spoke about “the beautiful” as a basic principle of Greek life and about Horace as a songwriter.

Heinrich Nissen studied philology and history in Kiel from 1856 to 1858, later two semesters in Jena and from 1859 in Berlin only history before he returned to Kiel in 1860. Its content was mainly shaped by August Boeckh and Theodor Mommsen .

Heinrich Nissen had a lifelong friendship with Wilhelm Jensen , whom he met when he joined the Teutonia Kiel fraternity . An extensive correspondence between him, his brother Caspar and Wilhelm Jensen has been preserved by his relatives who are alive today.

In 1862 Heinrich Nissen received his doctorate in Kiel. phil. and then did not look for permanent employment, but did what many young academics, including Theodor Mommsen , did at the same time as their fellow craftsmen: He traveled and thereby continued his education. At the beginning of 1863 he began his journey from Kiel via Dresden and Nuremberg to Munich, where he visited his friend Wilhelm Jensen , who was now working there, and stayed there until autumn 1863.

In August 1863 Heinrich Nissen started the actual study trip to Italy, which gradually expanded and lasted a total of three years. He had won the recognition and support of Theodor Mommsen and in this way he had aroused the interest of a specialist publisher who wanted to publish articles and study results by Heinrich Nissen, thereby securing maintenance and travel expenses.

Heinrich Nissen first explored Rome and wandered through its wonderful surroundings, climbed the 3500 m high Lucretilis and roamed the Alban Mountains , a little lonely because he was not accompanied by his friend Wilhelm Jensen, but gradually he found interested colleagues in Rome with whom he could exchange.

In the course of his journey, Heinrich Nissen also took part in the excavations of Pompeii. He has summarized his work results in a book "Pompeii". His main work, however, is the "Italian regional studies in 2 volumes".

Back from his long journey, he first worked as a private lecturer in Bonn from 1866, where he completed his habilitation in 1867.

One of his earliest students was Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff , who later wrote about Nissen in recognition: “Finally, the historian Nissen, rhetorical, eloquent, witty, self-confident, more focused than the others on the distance that separated the student from him. The only historical college I have heard was its history of the West Hellenes; It was fascinating to listen to, I wrote down well. "

In 1869 Nissen went to the University of Marburg as an associate professor , where he was appointed full professor in 1870. In 1877 he went to Göttingen as professor of ancient history ; However, he moved to Strasbourg the following year . In 1884 he was appointed to the University of Bonn to succeed Arnold Schaefer . Unlike his predecessor, he taught only ancient history there .

In the years around 1874 Heinrich Nissen married Henriette Schirrmeister (1854–1936). The two had a daughter Elisabeth (1876–1943). Together with Professor Dr. med Ernst Schmidt 3 sons and many grandchildren, some of whom were also able to demonstrate considerable professional success.

As the first representative of his subject, he had also researched epigraphy in Bonn - the basis was his studies during his years in Italy - and devoted himself to provincial Roman archeology . Also in 1884 he was elected a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences . He was one of the co-founders of the Reich Limes Commission . Since 1890 Nissen represented the University of Bonn in the Prussian manor house . In 1894 and 1895 he was the rector of the university.

Professor Heinrich Nissen was feared by the students because of his personal nature as an examiner. He was tall, had a straight posture, and his speech was always brief and well considered. He was serious, but his seriousness was tempered by a low level of humor.

In autumn 1911 Nissen retired, his successor was Ulrich Wilcken . Nissen died shortly afterwards and was buried in a grave of honor at the Poppelsdorf mountain cemetery.

Fonts (selection)

  • Pompeii , Lüderitz, Berlin 1867
  • Pompeian studies . Leipzig 1877
  • Italische Landeskunde : Vol. 1 Country and People , Berlin 1883; Vol. 2: The cities (2 volumes), Berlin 1902


Web links

Wikisource: Heinrich Nissen  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g From the family archive of his brother's great-grandchildren
  2. Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff: Memories 1848–1914 , Berlin 1928, p. 95.
  3. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 179.