Richard Meister (epigraphist)

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Richard Meister (born July 27, 1848 in Dresden , † November 30, 1912 in Leipzig ) was a German epigraphist , linguist and high school teacher who taught at the Nikolaischule in Leipzig from 1872 to 1912 . He is best known for his research on ancient Greek dialects .


Richard Meister was the first son of the actor and director at the Hoftheater Dresden Karl August Meister (1818–1876) and his wife Isidore geb. Baroness von Friesen (1813–1882); the Saxon state official Richard von Friesen (1808-1884) was his uncle. Richard Meister was the oldest child of his parents, who married on November 23, 1847. He grew up with an older half-brother and three younger siblings and first attended the Annenschule, a secondary school with optional Latin lessons. Master's linguistic talent was already evident at that time; From Easter 1862 his father made it possible for him to attend the Dresden Kreuzschule , where the master passed the school leaving examination six years later (Easter 1868). After hesitating between studying mathematics and law during his school days , he decided to study classical philology because of his linguistic interests .

In the summer semester of 1868, Meister enrolled at the University of Leipzig , where he mainly attended lectures by Friedrich Ritschl and Georg Curtius , and also joined the philological society and the philological seminar. He was most influenced by the linguist Georg Curtius, who also inspired him to do his doctoral thesis: In 1871, Meister submitted a study on the dialect of the Greek colony of Herakleia in Italy and went to Berlin University for his before he finished his exams in the winter semester of 1871/72 To deepen studies with the representatives of classical studies there. Since he did not arrive in Berlin until after the beginning of the semester, he was not admitted to the lectures and exercises and left Berlin before the end of the semester. On January 5, 1872, he was awarded a Dr. phil. doctorate and on August 9, 1872 he passed the teaching examination.

After graduating, Meister went to the Saxon school service. He spent his entire career at the Nikolaischule in Leipzig, where many well-known pedagogically and scientifically renowned teachers worked. From October 1, 1872, Meister taught as a temporary assistant teacher, then after a year as a (permanently employed) senior teacher. Through the trust of the rector Justus Hermann Lipsius , he received the ordinariate of the upper prima in 1875, so he taught the highest grade level in Greek and Latin. On October 22, 1892, Meister was appointed grammar school professor, in 1900 as deputy principal, and in 1908 as head teacher. During the illness of Rector Otto Kaemmel , Meister administered the Rectorate from October 1, 1908 to April 1, 1910; however, he turned down the offer to be Kaemmel's successor. The linguists August Leskien and Karl Brugmann were among the scholars with whom Meister was regular .

In June 1912, Meister underwent an operation because he had cancer. He took leave of school with the intention of returning after his recovery; but on November 30, 1912, he died at the age of 64. The Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin took over his estate .

Richard Meister was married to Klothilde Eckardt (1859–1945). The couple had five sons, all of whom had academic careers; three of them died in the First World War :

  1. Karl Meister (1880–1963), professor of classical philology in Berlin, Königsberg and Heidelberg
  2. Richard (Max Eckardt) Meister (1882–1915), lawyer, fallen at Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée
  3. Edwin (Friedrich Werner Richard) Meister (1884–1978), professor for textile and paper technology at the Technical University of Dresden
  4. Eckard Meister (1885–1914), professor of civil law at the University of Basel, died in the battle of Ypres
  5. Ludwig Meister (1889–1914), habilitation student for classical philology at the University of Leipzig, died in the battle of Ypres

Scientific work

Richard Meister's research focused on the Greek dialects, which in his time were not only researched on the basis of literary evidence, but also on the basis of countless inscriptions and increasingly also papyrus finds. Richard Meister dealt in many essays and monographs with individual questions as well as with the synthesis of the confusing material. In 1882 and 1889 he presented in two volumes a collection of testimonies to the Greek dialects, based on the now antiquated work by Heinrich Ludolf Ahrens (published 1839–1843). The revision was generally welcomed by the professional world, but also received wide-ranging criticism. The main problem that had prevented Ahrens himself from revising it decades earlier was the unmistakable increase in the inscribed material, which could no longer be dealt with by an individual.

Master's individual studies of the Greek dialects brought him rich recognition. On August 3, 1891, the Royal Saxon Society of Sciences elected him a full member of its philosophical-historical class. In the treatises and reports of the Society, Meister published many larger and smaller studies, including, in addition to many linguistic works, an annotated edition of the Mimiamben des Herodas (1893), which had become famous in 1890 through a papyrus find and which considerably promoted knowledge of the Ionic dialect . In addition, Meister participated in the collection of the Greek dialect inscriptions by Friedrich Bechtel and Hermann Collitz , for which he edited the Boeotian inscriptions from Laconia , Tarent , Herakleia (on Siris) and Messenia .

A special focus of research was the inscriptions of the island of Cyprus , especially the inscriptions in the Cypriot syllabar , the deciphering of which represented a difficult task for linguistics. Master's findings in this area prompted the Saxon and Prussian Academy of Sciences to commission him with the collection of the Cypriot inscriptions, which were to appear as Volume XV of the Inscriptiones Graecae (IG). To view the material, Meister traveled to London and New York for several months to examine the collections there. He planned another trip to the Orient (to Egypt and Cyprus) for the winter of 1912/1913, but before he left he died on November 30, 1912. His sons Karl and Ludwig Meister were supposed to complete the collection of inscriptions her father had studied classical philology and studied Greek epigraphy intensively. But Ludwig fell two years later in the First World War and Karl got other research tasks in the course of his career. The conclusion and publication of the volume IG XV ( Inscriptiones Cypri ) are still pending .

Fonts (selection)

  • De dialecto Heracliensium Italicorum . Leipzig 1871 (dissertation)
  • The Greek dialects based on Ahrens' work . Two volumes, Göttingen 1882–1889
  • Go to the Elean, Arcadian and Cypriot dialects . Leipzig 1890
  • The Mimiambes of Herodas. With an appendix on the poet, tradition and dialect . Leipzig 1893 ( Treatises of the philosophical-historical class of the Royal Saxon Academy of Sciences 13.7, pp. 611-884)
  • The inscriptions of Laconia, Taranto, Herakleia (on Siris) and Messenia . Göttingen 1898 ( Collection of Greek dialect inscriptions . Volume 3.2, Issue 1)
  • Dorians and Achaeans . Leipzig 1904 ( Treatises of the philosophical-historical class of the Royal Saxon Academy of Sciences 24.3)
  • An ostracon from the sanctuary of Zeus epikoinios in Salamis, Cyprus . Leipzig 1909 ( Treatises of the philosophical-historical class of the Royal Saxon Academy of Sciences 27.9, pp. 303-332)


  • Ernst Bischoff : The teaching staff of the Nicolaigymnasium in Leipzig 1816–1896 / 97: Biographical-bibliographical contributions to school history . Leipzig 1897, p. 34f.
  • Karl Brugmann: In memory of Richard Meister . In: Reports of the philosophical-historical class of the royal Saxon Academy of Sciences . Volume 65 (1913), pp. 219-228
  • Karl Meister: Richard Meister . In: Annual report on the progress of classical antiquity . 42nd year 1914, volume 169. Nekrologe (= Biographical Yearbook for Classical Studies ). 36th year, 1914, pp. 52–62 (with list of publications)
  • Karl Meister: Richard Meister . In: Indo-European Yearbook . Volume 1 (1914), pp. 219–227 (with list of publications)
  • Karl Brugmann: Richard Meister . In: Biographisches Jahrbuch and Deutscher Nekrolog . Volume 17, 1912 (1915), pp. 53-57

Web links

Wikisource: Richard Meister  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. a b Information on Meister's family according to Hubert PetersmannMeister, Karl. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 16, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-428-00197-4 , p. 727 f. ( Digitized version ).
  2. See, for example, the detailed review by Wilhelm Schulze : Berliner Philologische Wochenschrift 1890, Sp. 1402–1408; 1435-1441; 1470-1475; 1502–1506 = Small fonts . 2nd, increased edition, Göttingen 1966, pp. 657-682.
  3. ^ Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Inscriptiones Graecae, research current (accessed on August 24, 2014).