Karl Otfried Müller

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Karl Otfried Müller (1838). Painting by Wilhelm Ternite

Karl Otfried Müller (born August 28, 1797 in Brieg / Silesia, † August 1, 1840 in Athens ) was a German classical philologist and one of the founders of classical archeology and ancient history .

Live and act

Karl Müller was the eldest of four children of Pastor Karl Daniel Müller (1773-1858) and his wife Juliane Müller, b. Left (1774-1858). His brother Julius Müller (1801–1878) became a well-known theologian, while his brother Eduard Müller (1804–1875) became a high school director in Ratibor and Liegnitz . In 1806 the father moved to a job in Ohlau . Müller was strongly influenced by his parents' house, his simple, informal and balanced manner came from his upbringing. Müller showed his great talent while he was still at school, and in 1814 he began studying various humanities and natural sciences at the newly founded University of Breslau . Among other things, he heard from Henrich Steffens and classical philology from Ludwig Friedrich Heindorf . This introduced him to Barthold Georg Niebuhr's “Roman History”. The work impressed Müller so much that he now turned completely to classical philology.

He quickly began to devote himself to various topics. He leaned on the important classical scholars of the time, Friedrich August Wolf and August Boeckh , who, like him, propagated a comprehensive historical view. In 1816 he moved to Berlin University , where he heard from Friedrich Schleiermacher , Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand Solger , Friedrich August Wolf, Philipp Buttmann and of course August Boeckh. If he was put off by Wolf's manner, Buttmann and Boeckh in particular became his most important teachers. Buttmann was also the one who persuaded Müller to adopt the second name “Otfried” so that he could be better distinguished from other namesake. In this way, Müller became an important exponent of subject philology and opponent of the word philological school represented by Gottfried Hermann . After his doctorate , which completed his studies, Müller became a teacher at the Maria-Magdalenen-Gymnasium (Magdalenäum) in Breslau in 1818 . With the scientific work Attica he provided the first largely complete topography of Athens .

During his time as a high school teacher, Müller tried to do his habilitation at the University of Wroclaw . At the same time, Boeckh tried to get Müller to work for the Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum that he had initiated . But before one of the projects took shape, Müller was appointed to an extraordinary professorship at the University of Göttingen in July 1819 . Since he had to teach art archeology in addition to classical philology , he was granted a two-month stay to study the Dresden antique collections. From this point on he attached great importance to the study of ancient works of art and also visited many archaeological collections in Europe in his free time. In 1823 Müller became a full professor and member of the Göttingen Society of Sciences .

Karl Otfried Müller was involved in teaching, research and university administration. The Hanoverian state government was evidently aware of the importance of Müller and improved his salaries several times, granted him several research trips and appointed him court counselor in 1832 . The design concept of the auditorium of Göttingen University , which was completed in 1837 for the secular celebration , is largely due to him. From 1835 he was also professor of eloquence. In this capacity, he gave the celebratory speech on the anniversary of Göttingen University in 1837.

Commemoration on the 50th anniversary of Müller's death in Athens in 1890

Shortly afterwards, the dismissal of the Göttingen Seven left a lasting impression on Müller . Müller also belonged to the liberal-minded forces and was one of six other professors who expressed solidarity with the seven, but were not dismissed. An opportunity to escape the tense situation that followed came in 1839 when the state government approved a trip to Greece. Here he wanted to lay the foundations for his life's work, a "Greek story". But his thirst for research was his undoing. While copying inscriptions in the scorching sun of Delphi , he contracted a brain infection. He collapsed on the return trip from Delphi. After he was brought to Athens by his companions Ernst Curtius , Adolf Schöll and Georg Friedrich Neise (1818–1898) , he died there. He found his grave on Kolonoshügel northwest of what is now Athens' city center, where a grave stele still commemorates him. King Otto, his ministers, the diplomatic corps and the university took part in the funeral service.

Medal in honor of Karl Otfried Müller 1841

Karl Otfried Müller's death is still considered one of the tragic moments in German classical philology. Only 42 years old, Müller, who was considered the potential successor to the great August Boeckh, left a big gap. His research on Greek history was fundamental, some areas of research were never considered before his studies. Müller was married to Pauline Hugo (1804–1847), the daughter of the Göttingen legal scholar Gustav von Hugo , since 1824 . They had four children. The daughter Julie was married to the lawyer Burkard Wilhelm Leist , the eldest son, born on May 5, 1830, was the later state director Carl Hugo Müller . How much the scientific landscape was shaken by his tragic death is also shown by the medal that was dedicated to Müller by the meeting of German philologists and school men in 1841. The legend on the back underlines the special position of the scientist.



Web links

Commons : Karl Otfried Müller  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Karl Otfried Müller  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Walther Judeich : Topography of Athens (= Handbook of Classical Studies. Department 3, Part 2, Vol. 2). 2nd, completely revised edition. Beck, Munich 1931, p. 25.
  2. Wolfhart Unte (ed.): The letters of the Breslau publisher Josef Max to Karl Otfried Müller (= yearbook of the Silesian Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Breslau / supplements , volume 11), St. Katharinen: Scripta Mercaturae Verlag, 2000, ISBN 978 -3-89590-099-0 , p. 106 (footnote 248); limited preview in Google Book search.
  3. Stefan Krmnicek, Marius Gaidys: Taught images. Classical scholars on 19th century medals. Accompanying volume to the online exhibition in the Digital Coin Cabinet of the Institute for Classical Archeology at the University of Tübingen (= From Croesus to King Wilhelm. New Series, Volume 3). University Library Tübingen, Tübingen 2020, pp. 66–69 ( online ).
predecessor Office successor
Georg Ludolf Dissen Professor of poetry and eloquence at the University of Göttingen