Olof Gigon

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Olof Alfred Gigon (pronunciation (IPA): [ˈoːloːf ʒiˈgɔ̃] ; born January 28, 1912 in Basel , † June 18, 1998 in Athens ) was a Swiss classical philologist . He is particularly known as a historian of philosophy and a translator of ancient philosophical texts.


Olof Gigon, son of the physician Alfred Gigon (1883–1975), grew up in Basel, where he attended the humanistic grammar school and then studied classical (with Peter Von der Mühll , Kurt Latte , Jacob Wackernagel ) and oriental philology (with Rudolf Tschudi ) began. In 1932/33 he spent a semester in Munich (with Eduard Schwartz , Albert Rehm , Rudolf Pfeiffer , Franz Dölger ). During his studies he learned Arabic, Persian and Turkish and during this time also joined the Swiss Zofinger Association . In 1934 Gigon received his doctorate from Peter Von der Mühll with the dissertation Investigations on Heraklit . He spent the next two years studying in Paris. In 1937 he completed his habilitation with an examination of Theophrastus' work Über die Winde including a text-critical edition (unprinted).

As early as 1939, at the age of 27, Gigon was appointed full professor of classical studies at the University of Friborg . He was one of the co-founders of the Museum Helveticum magazine (1944). After the Second World War , he was visiting professor in Munich from 1946 to 1948 to support teaching. In 1948 Gigon was appointed professor of Latin studies at the University of Bern , where he worked until his retirement in 1982 and beyond. In the academic year 1966/67 he was rector of the university. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg in 1966 and from the University of Athens in 1974 . He also spent the last years of his life in Athens. Philologists like Hellmut Flashar and Wolfgang Kullmann honored his services in obituaries.

He was a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences in Athens (1975) and the Academies of Sciences in Gothenburg (1966) and Uppsala (1971) and from 1948 of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.


Gigon was one of the most important historians of philosophy of the 20th century and dealt with the whole range of ancient philosophy. His books have been translated into many languages, including The Origin of Greek Philosophy (1945), Fundamental Problems of Ancient Philosophy (1959), and Ancient Culture and Christianity (1967).

An example of his work is the demythization of the figure of Socrates . Gigon pointed out that Socrates, as he is represented by his pupil Plato , is a medium of Plato's own worldview. Gigon was also of the opinion that all the problems of modern philosophy should already be recognizable in ancient philosophy, even if only partially. The work remained Gigon's most controversial work. He tried to justify some of his theses in his commentary on Xenophon's memories of Socrates, of which only the first two parts appeared.

Fonts (selection)

  • Socrates: his image in poetry and history, Bern: Francke 1947, Tübingen, Basel, 3rd edition 1994
  • with Laila Straume-Zimmermann: Glossary of terms and names on Plato, Artemis Verlag, 2nd edition 1987
  • Philosophy and science among the Greeks, in: Klaus von See (Ed.), New Handbook of Literary Studies, Volume 2, Athenaion 1981
  • Literary genres and theories of poetry, in: Propylaea History of Literature, Volume 1, Propylaea 1981
  • The culture of the Greeks, Frankfurt: Athenaion 1969 (in: The culture of classical antiquity, with Alfons Wotschitzky), Wiesbaden 1979
  • Presence and Utopia: An Interpretation of Plato's "State", Artemis 1976
  • Studies on ancient philosophy, ed. Andreas Graeser, De Gruyter 1972
  • The origin of Greek philosophy from Hesiod to Parmenides, Basel, Stuttgart: Schwabe 1945, 1968
  • Ancient culture and Christianity, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 1967
  • The Hellenic Heritage, in: Propylaea World History , 1962
  • Basic problems of ancient philosophy, Bern: Francke 1959 (also translated into French and Spanish)
  • Commentary on the first book of Xenophon's Memorabilia, Swiss Contributions to Classical Studies, Volume 5, Basel: F. Reinhardt 1953
  • Commentary on the second book of Xenophon's Memorabilia, Swiss Contributions to Classical Studies, Issue 7, Basel: F. Reinhardt 1956
  • Investigations on Heraklit, Leipzig: Dieterich 1935 (= dissertation, Basel)

In the Tusculum Collection he published translations of the Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle, by Cicero (among others On the Nature of the Gods, Conversations in Tusculum), and in the Library of the Old World a selection edition of Aristotle, Epicurus, Boethius (Consolation of Philosophy) and a Plato edition (1974).

He was co-editor of the Lexicon of the Old World and wrote many articles for it. He was also co-editor of the Swiss Contributions to Classical Studies .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Schweizerischer Zofingerverein, Schweizerischer Altzofingerverein (Ed.): Membership Directory 1997. Zofingen 1997, p. 19. (Available in the Swiss National Library , call number SWR 1338.)
  2. Ernst Vogt, Olof Gigon, Bayr. Akad. Wiss. 1999 yearbook