Bryn Mawr Classical Review 97.7.14

Karl Christ, Griechische Geschichte und Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Historia Einzelschriften 106. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1996. Pp. 236. DM 88. ISBN 3-515-06915-1.

Reviewed by Thomas M. Banchich,, Canisius College.

This volume includes unaltered reprints of nine of Karl Christ's works and the first publication in German of a tenth. Nachtraege (pp. 219-225) supplement each essay. There is no real thematic focus to the collection other than that indicated by the title itself. Rather, as Christ explains in a brief Vorwort, the content of Griechische Geschichte und Wissenschaftsgeschichte comprises research published over a period of more than three decades in two major areas: Greek numismatics and the history of scholarship.

Of the contributions on numismatics -- "Die Griechen und das Geld" and "Antike Siegesprägungen"1 --, the first should attract the interest of non-specialists because of the overview it presents of various aspects of the history of Greek coinage and, more especially, of the complex interrelationship between the Greeks and their coins. The second essay, complimented by seven pages of plates, traces numismatic images of victory from Classical and Hellenistic Greece, through Roman times, to modern Siegesprägungen from the 19th and 20th centuries. It argues that the Greeks validated particular victories through images which linked them to the idea of Nike, while the imagery of Roman triumphs was highly particularized.

"Spartaforschung und Spartabild," reprinted from the Wege und Forschung series,2 is a tour de force of intellectual history and historiography, as impressive in detail and intelligence as in scope. Christ moves deftly through a series of major Reformation figures -- Calvin, More, Bodin --, deals with Sparta and Lycurgus in Elizabethan England, and progresses from Rousseau and the Enlightenment through revolutionary Europe, the romantic philhellenism associated with Goethe, Herder, and Winckelmann, to the place of Sparta in modern notions of patriotism, particularly in Germany. As one would expect, he is excellent on the historiography of German scholarship on Sparta, highlighted by discussion of the portrayals of Sparta by Curtius, Beloch, Burckhardt, Ehrenberg, and Berve, and a consideration of the place of Sparta in National Socialist thought and in post-World War II Germany and Germany today. The essay ends with an invaluable bibliography on Spartaforschung and Spartabild from 1593-1983, updated to 1996 in the Nachträge.

The remaining essays are all of equally high quality. "N. D. Fustel de Coulanges und die Antike Gesellschaft" served originally as the introduction to the German translation of Fustel's La cité antique.3 In it Christ aimed to introduce a German readership to Fustel himself, the content and methodology of the work in question, and its place within the framework of modern historiography. The result is intelligent and informed, better in many ways than Momigliano's essay, the yardstick most English-speaking readers will doubtless employ.4 In "Ernst Curtius und Jacob Burckhardt,"5 Christ uses the interesting relationship between and the divergent fates of the works and reputations of Curtius and Burkhardt to investigate the study of Greek history in Germany in the 19th century. This essay will be of great interest not only to classicists and ancient historians, but, because of Curtius' fame and connections to the German imperial house and to leading figures of government, it will also inform students of the Second German Reich. "Griechische Geschichte zwischen Adolf Holm und Ettore Lepore"6 explores in impressive fashion the development of Greek historiography in Italy between the publication in four volumes of Holm's Griechische Geschichte (1886-1894), through the [sometimes perversely] brilliant Griechische Geschichte of K. J. Beloch (1st ed., 1893-1904; 2nd ed., 1912-1927) and its relationship to Gaetano De Sanctis and his followers, to the accomplishments of Lepore himself. Equally stimulating is "Zu Belochs Rezeption in Deutschland," much more than just a valuable complement to Momigliano's "Giulio Beloch."7 Christ's next subject is Momigliano himself, and the result -- "Arnaldo Momigliano und die deutsche Geschichts- und Altertumswissenschaft," published here for the first time in German8 -- is a must read for anyone interested in the intellectual formation and career of one of the most important and influential ancient historians of this century. Along the way, one repeatedly gains insights not only into Momigliano and his times but also into the character of those with whom he came into contact or who had occasion to comment on his work (Wilhelm Ensslin's praise [pp. 175-176] of Momigliano's "La formazione della moderna storiografia sull' impero romano" in a 1943 Gnomon review is but one example). "Die Griechen und die Anderen" considers in the context of a review of Riccardo Di Donato's Per una anthropologia storica del mundo antico (Florence: La Nuova Italia Editrice, 1990) the impact of sociological and anthropological approaches associated mainly with such scholars as Louis Gernet and Jean-Pierre Vernant.9 "Die Verdrangten--Zur Existenz des Historikers" is the concluding essay. Once more Momigliano's interest in the phenomenon of "Historians in Exile" provides a point of comparison, and once more Christ's work more than stands on its own merit in its thoughtful survey of scholars in exile from antiquity to the present.10 Among the later, Christ's discussions of Elias Bickerman, Eugene Taubler, and Victor Ehrenberg stand out.

Within the last year there occurred a disturbing debate between some members of the Classics electronic discussion group about whether or not classicists should know German, since, some maintained, there was no longer much scholarship worth reading being written in that language. If evidence to the contrary were actually required, this volume would suffice. No review could do justice to the breadth and depth of Christ's learning.11


1. First published in Saeculum 15 (1964), pp. 214-229, and Gymnasium 64 (1957), pp. 504-533, respectively.

2. Sparta. Wege und Forschung 622 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgeselleschaft, 1986), pp. 1-72.

3. Der antike Staat (Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag, 1981), pp. 9-20.

4. Originally "La città antica di Fustel de Coulanges," Rivista Storica Italiana 82 (1970), pp. 81-90, reprinted and translated into German and English, e.g., "The Ancient City of Fustel de Coulanges," A. D. Momigliano: Studies on Modern Scholarship, edd. G. Bowersock and T. Cornell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 162-178.

5. First published in L'Antichità nell' Ottocento in Italia e Germania, edd. K. Christ and A. Momigliano. Annali dell' Instituto sotrico italo-germanico in Trento. Contributi 2 (Bologna: Societa editrice il Mulino/Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1988), pp. 221-248.

6. Composed in 1995 for the forthcoming Neapler Gedenkschrift für Ettore Lepore.

7. Christ's essay first appeared in Aspetti della Storiografia di Giulio Beloch, ed. L. Polverini. Incontri perugini di storia della storiografia antica e sul mondo antico 1 (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1990), pp. 177-195. With which cf. Momigliano, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (1966), vol. 8, pp. 32-25, translated by T. Cornell, "Julius Beloch," A. D. Momigliano: Studies on Modern Scholarship, pp. 97-120.

8. Originally published as "Arnaldo Momigliano e la storiografia tedesca dell' antichità," trans. E. Tartarolo, Rivista Storica Italiana C (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1988), pp. 313-325. On the English version, see William Calder's review, BMCR 3.3.18, of The Presence of the Historian: Essays in Memory of Arnaldo Momigliano, ed. M. Steinberg. History and Theory: Studies in the Philosophy of History. Beiheft 30 (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1991).

9. The review appeared in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 6.1 (1992), p. 20.

10. First published in Geschichte und Existenz, Kleine Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek 34 (Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, 1991), pp. 51-89. Calder, BMCR 3.2.6, treats the essay in detail.

11. There is a Namen- und Sachregister to the text. The book free of all but very minor misprints, e.g. p. 216, "oft" for "of."