Wilhelm Kroll

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wilhelm Kroll

Wilhelm Kroll (full name Friedrich Wilhelm Kroll , born October 7, 1869 in Frankenstein in Silesia ; † April 21, 1939 in Berlin ) was a German classical philologist who worked as a professor at the Universities of Greifswald (1899–1906), Münster (1906– 1913) and Breslau (1913–1935) worked. Alongside Richard Heinze and Eduard Norden, he is one of the leading Latinists of his generation. His annotated editions on Cicero's rhetorical writings Brutus (1908) and Orator (1913) as well as on the poet Catullus (1923) and his monographs The Scientific Syntax in Latin Lessons (1917), Studies for the Understanding of Roman Literature (1924) and The Culture of Ciceronian Zeit (1933) remained in use long after their publication and are still recognized in professional circles today. In addition, he was active in the fields of late ancient philosophy , astrology and astronomy , eroticism , poetry theory, rhetoric and natural science and published fundamental critical editions by Greek and Latin authors. He proved his organizational talent in the decades of editing specialist journals ( Bursian's annual report on the progress of classical antiquity 1898–1913, Glotta 1913–1936) and the revision of Pauly's Real Encyclopedia of Classical Antiquity (RE), which he published from 1906 until the end of his life .


Childhood and school days

Wilhelm Kroll was the son of the lawyer Wilhelm Kroll (1835–1923) and Elise geb. Eichborn (1848-1925). His father, the son of the Eisleben high school teacher Johann Friedrich Kroll (1795–1873) and the grandson of a miller from the Uckermark, had worked as an assessor and district judge in Naumburg , Berlin and Altlandsberg after studying in Halle (Saale) and Berlin . In Berlin in 1867 he had married the daughter of the Berlin factory owner, large landowner and lottery taker Ludwig (Louis) Eichborn (1819–1903), who was a bankruptcy administrator at the Berlin City and District Court.

In August 1869 Wilhelm Kroll's parents moved to Frankenstein in Silesia , where his father became a district judge. Wilhelm Kroll spent his early childhood there with an older sister Elisabeth (1868–1893) and a younger Marie Eugenie (1876 – after 1939). Before he went to school, the family moved to the provincial capital of Wroclaw in 1876, where his father was transferred to the local court. In Breslau, Kroll attended the pre-school of the denominationally mixed Johannesgymnasium and later its grammar school department. Of his teachers, he was particularly influenced by the director Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Müller , a philologist from the school of Karl Lehrs , who, in Kroll's assessment, “filled the school with a scientific spirit and moral seriousness”.

Studied in Breslau and Berlin

After graduating from school in 1887, Kroll studied classical philology at the Silesian Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Breslau , which he passed with particular success without the oral examination . In his first semester he attended philological and archaeological lectures with Martin Hertz and August Rossbach , which hardly stimulated him - in contrast to the younger, third professor, Wilhelm Studemund , who introduced Kroll to palaeography and epigraphy , among other things . In addition, Kroll began studying linguistics with Alfred Hillebrandt . He did not join a student union , but instead joined the Philological Association, which combined specialist cooperation with sociability and provided Kroll with important contacts. With the support of his father, Kroll moved to the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin in the winter semester of 1887/1888 , where he participated as a guest in the philological seminar of Adolf Kirchhoff and Johannes Vahlen (which was committed to traditional word philology ) as well as lectures and exercises by linguists Hermann Oldenberg and Heymann Steinthal , the archaeologists Adolf Furtwängler and Carl Robert and the philologist Hermann Diels visited. He was particularly impressed by Diels and Robert, who represented classical studies as a discipline encompassing the entire cultural life of antiquity, and Diels in particular remained an important mentor for Kroll's further career. In addition, Kroll found academic companions such as Alfred Gudeman , Friedrich Vollmer and Paul Wendland among the students, both in the lecture hall and in the Berlin Philological Association .

In the winter semester of 1888/89 Kroll returned to Breslau, where he kept the broader horizons of his subjects. He attended the philological seminar in Studemund, who died in 1889 after a long illness. Thereafter, Kroll was admitted to the Philological Seminar headed by Hertz, Rossbach and Studemund's successor Richard Foerster . Kroll also attended lectures by the private lecturers Leopold Cohn , Richard Reitzenstein , Otto Rossbach and Franz Skutsch ; Kroll had a lifelong friendship with the latter, which also belonged to the Philological Association, which also resulted in scientific collaboration. He continued his linguistic studies (especially Sanskrit ) with Hillebrandt, he also attended lectures on systematic philosophy and psychology with Benno Erdmann and his successor Clemens Baeumker .

Kroll's first independent academic work emerged from a prize assignment from the Philosophical Faculty that had been set by Martin Hertz, who also supervised the drafting of the work. Kroll checked the collection of letters from the late antique senator Symmachus to see which Greek and Latin authors he received. From this study, which received the first prize, Kroll's doctoral thesis on the same topic grew. The final exam in the subjects of Classical Philology, Ancient History , Sanskrit, Linguistics and Philosophy was Kroll in February 1891. The promotion of Dr. phil. (with the then usual defense of his theses in Latin with three opponents ) took place after the printing of his dissertation on May 6, 1891.

Years of traveling in Bonn and Italy

Kroll then went on a study trip to Venice and Rome to collect material for his habilitation thesis in the local libraries. He then deepened his studies for two semesters at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn with Hermann Usener , Franz Bücheler and Georg Loeschcke . In that year he won the Academy Prize of the Prussian Academy of Sciences for editing the writings of the neo-Platonist Damascius .

Time as a private lecturer and full professor

In Breslau , Kroll completed his habilitation on April 21, 1894 with a thesis on the Chaldean oracles . For the next five years he taught as a private lecturer at the University of Wroclaw. In the summer semester of 1899 he followed the call of the University of Greifswald as full professor and successor to Eduard Nord . From Greifswald he went on research trips to England and France. From the summer semester of 1906 to the winter semester of 1912/1913 he taught as a full professor at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster before he accepted an appointment at his home university in Breslau, where he succeeded his friend Franz Skutsch . Kroll stayed in Breslau until his retirement in 1935, interrupted by guest stays in the USA (at the Institute for Advanced Study , winter semester 1930/31) and in Great Britain (1935). In 1922/23 he was rector of the university, in 1927/28 dean of the faculty. In the spring of 1937 he moved to Berlin, where he died two years later at the age of 70.

Kroll had been married to Käthe Wegener, the daughter of the grammar school director Philipp Wegener (1848-1916), since 1900. The couple had three sons and a daughter Edith (* 1902), who married the archaeologist Reinhard Herbig in 1924 .

From 1922 Kroll was an honorary philistine of the SBV Ostmark in Breslau.



Kroll was active in numerous areas of classical philology. He wrote commentaries on the Roman writers Cicero and Catullus as well as a work on the culture of the Ciceronian period . He published several journals ( annual reports on the progress of classical studies , 1898-1913, and Glotta ), edited the history of Roman literature by Wilhelm Siegmund Teuffel and wrote a work on the history of classical philology. He also dealt with the Latin language, ancient astronomy and astrology as well as late ancient philosophy and the history of religion.

His greatest achievement, however, was the editing of the revision of Paulys Realencyclopadie der classical antiquity , which he had taken over from Georg Wissowa in 1906 . With the support of Kurt Witte and Karl Mittelhaus , he oversaw the multi-volume reference work for more than thirty years until his death, but was unable to complete it, although he tried to speed up the process of publication by introducing a second row beginning with the letter R. Kroll himself wrote articles for the company since 1899, including large review articles such as didactic poems (1925) and rhetoric (1940).


  • De oraculis Chaldaicis (= Breslau philological treatises . Volume 7.1). Koebner, Breslau 1894; Reprint Olms, Hildesheim 1986, ISBN 3-487-00229-9 .
  • Ancient superstition . Publishing house and printing company A.-G., Hamburg 1897 ( digitized ).
  • Analecta Graeca. In: Scientific supplement to the course catalog of the University of Greifswald. Easter 1901 ( digitized in the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Digital Library)
  • History of classical philology (= Göschen Collection. Volume 367). 1908; 2nd, improved edition. de Gruyter, Berlin / Leipzig 1919.
  • C. Valerius Catullus. 1923; 7th edition. Teubner, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-519-24001-7 .
  • Studies to Understand Roman Literature. Metzler, Stuttgart 1924; Reprinted by Garland, New York / London 1978, ISBN 0-8240-2972-0 .
  • The culture of the Ciceronian period. 2 parts. Dieterich, Leipzig 1933; Reprint Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1975, ISBN 3-534-01542-8 .


Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Kroll  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Wilhelm Kroll  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Eckart Mensching : About Georg Rohde, the RE and Wilhelm Kroll . In: Nugae on the history of philology . Volume 10, Berlin 2000, p. 63 (first in: Latin and Greek in Berlin and Brandenburg. Volume 44, 2000, p. 46)
  2. ^ Wilhelm Kroll: Kösener Corpslisten 1930, 54 , 148; 58 , 871
  3. Rector's speeches (HKM)
  4. ^ Deceased Fellows. British Academy, accessed June 21, 2020 .