Robert von Pöhlmann

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Robert von Pöhlmann (born October 31, 1852 in Nuremberg ; † September 27, 1914 in Munich ) was an important German ancient historian who taught as a professor at the Universities of Erlangen and Munich .


Pöhlmann studied history at the University of Munich (with Wilhelm Giesebrecht and Heinrich Brunn ), the University of Göttingen (with Georg Waitz ) and the University of Leipzig (with Wilhelm Roscher ). During his studies he became a member of the AGV Munich in the special houses association . In Waitz in Göttingen he was in 1875 with a thesis on The Römerzug Emperor Henry VII. And the policy of Curie, the House of Anjou and the Guelph League doctorate . The work was rated “summa cum laude” . Today it is seen as solid, not spectacular, and the use of new sources is praised.

After another highly acclaimed work of the Italian Renaissance Pöhlmann moved with his Habilitation in the subject area Ancient History . Such a change was a little less unusual in the 19th century than it is today (for example, Johann Gustav Droysen initially worked on antiquity before turning to the modern era). The habilitation thesis presented at the University of Erlangen in 1879 was entitled Hellenistic Views on the Relationship between Nature and History . This introduction to classical studies is still considered very original today. The topic went back to the defense of his doctoral thesis on July 22, 1875, during which he had already discussed theses on this very issue.

In 1884 he became associate professor in the newly created chair for ancient history in Erlangen, and in 1886 he became a full professor. During this time his history of the social question and socialism in the ancient world , which appeared in several editions from 1893 onwards , in which Pöhlmann spoke of a fundamental opposition between “capital” and “work” in the Greek poleis and the existence of quasi-socialist groups ran out in ancient times. In the summer semester of 1901 he moved to Munich as professor of ancient history to a chair that was also newly established there after Eduard Meyer had refused the offer. In 1913 Pöhlmann took over the editing of the Handbook of Classical Studies from Iwan von Müller , an activity that came to an early end a year later with his death.

Pöhlmann was a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences from 1887 and a full member from 1901, and from 1907 he was secretary of the historical class. In 1909 he was ennobled. His research areas and questions make Pöhlmann appear as a unique figure in German ancient history. He was the father of the dermatologist August Poehlmann .


Pöhlmann dealt intensively with Plato and other ancient authors such as Ephorus , Hippocratic writings and Strabo . The examination not only with historical, but also with geographical and philosophical literature was characteristic. He dealt with the demographics of ancient cities, Roman economic history and social structure of the Romans, and especially with ancient capitalism . Here he mainly dealt with the theories of Karl Marx , although in contrast to him he had no interest in the causes of social questions per se and also showed little sympathy for the lower classes.

The driving force behind his research was that Pöhlmann wanted to show the importance of classical studies for current issues of the day and thus not least support the humanistic grammar school, which had been criticized, as an idea. The modernist approach therefore had no political-social background, but was ultimately a means to an end. Another field in which he was active was the study of ancient utopias .

In the area of ​​the Italian economic history of the Renaissance, particularly of Florence , Pöhlmann broke new ground at the time.


  • The economic policy of the Florentine Renaissance and the principle of freedom of movement , Leipzig 1878.
  • The Beginnings of Rome , 1881.
  • The overpopulation of the ancient cities in connection with the overall development of urban civilization (price publications of the Princely Jablonowski Society), 1884.
  • Outline of Greek History , 1889.
  • History of the social question and socialism in the ancient world (2 volumes), 2nd edition 1912 (the first edition appeared under the title History of ancient communism and socialism 1893 (volume 1) and 1901 (volume 2)).
  • Socrates and his people (= historical library. Volume 8), 1899.
  • Greek history and source studies , 5th edition 1914.


Web links

Wikisource: Robert von Pöhlmann  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Grübel, Special Houses Association of German Student Choral Societies (SV): Cartel address book. As of March 1, 1914. Munich 1914, p. 109.
  2. a b Laetitia Boehm : For escort. With some aspects of the early history of the university subject Ancient History in the 19th century. In: Jakob Seibert (Ed.): 100 Years of Old History at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (1901-2001) (= Ludovico Maximilianea. Research and sources. Volume 19). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-428-10875-2 , pp. 7–20, here p. 16.
  3. Jens-Uwe Krause : Robert von Pöhlmann. Professor in Munich April 1, 1901 to September 27, 1914 . In: Jakob Seibert (Ed.): 100 Years of Old History at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (1901-2001). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-428-10875-2 , pp. 40-49, here p. 41.