BMCR 2004.07.26

Wilamowitz und kein Ende. Wissenschaftsgeschichtliches Kolloquium Fondation Hardt, 9.- 13. September 2002. Spudasmata 92

, , Wilamowitz und kein Ende : wissenschaftsgeschichtliches Kolloquium Fondation Hardt, 9. bis 13. September 2002 : William M. Calder III zum 70. Geburtstag von Freunden und Schülern. Spudasmata ; Bd. 92. Hildesheim: Olms, 2003. xiii, 270 pages : portrait ; 21 cm.. ISBN 3487119870 €39.80.

A strange title for a book about Classics: ‘Wilamowitz and no end’. What does it express? Is it a sign of impatience? A protest against a towering figure called up from the past much too often? Or is it the indication of deep admiration for an inexhaustible fountain of information and immense knowledge?

Perhaps the subtitle helps to understand. In 2002, a ‘Wissenschaftsgeschichtliches Kolloquium’ (= Meeting on the History of Classical Learning) took place at the Fondation Hardt in Geneva, Switzerland, in order to celebrate the 70th birthday of William M. Calder III. It brought together some of his pupils and friends in the pleasant environment of the Fondation. Calder is indeed the father figure of Wilamowitz studies since he found and published W.’s ‘Valediktionsarbeit’ in 1974. Accordingly all the nine papers deal with one or another aspect of the person and/or the work of — let us at least once give him his full name!1 — Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff.

And the enigmatic title? It is — what the book omits to mention — a copy of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s title “Shakespeare und kein Ende” of 1813. Therefore, the character of “kein Ende” is now clear: it indicates an ‘endless’ stream of insights to be gained from Shakespeare, from von Goethe alias from von Wilamowitz.

The book itself begins with an amusing photo montage: two pictures, one of Wilamowitz (in 1887/88) and the other of Calder III (in his middle years) form a time-transcending collage (by Stephan Bay) and set the tone for the whole undertaking.

While the list of abbreviations (IX-XIII) helpfully leads to the main publications of W. and C., one publication by C. regretfully is omitted: Antiqua 27, Studies in the Modern History of Classical Scholarship, Napoli 1984 (although mentioned p. 86, ann. 130). Now to the single contributions:

William Calder III (Urbana, Illinois): Wilamowitz und kein Ende, 1-9.

The Honorandus gives an overview to answer the question “How did it all start?” He points to his teacher Werner Jaeger; his friend Paul Becker; his colleague, the Munich ThLL editor Wolfgang Buchwald; and others. He concludes with the next question: “What remains to be done?” His answer is, “The accurate editing of primary sources”, and he makes some suggestions (Eduard Meyer, Theodor Mommsen, Adolf von Harnack, Ulrich Wilken). It is fascinating to see how sheer coincidence and good luck combine with hard work and lifelong dedication to a task.

Anton Bierl (Basel): Wilamowitz’s Lysistrate, 11-35.

B. discusses “Lysistrate” as a part of W.’s output during his last years, from “Platon” 1919 via “Pindaros” 1922 to “Hellenistische Dichtung” 1924, when there follows a tetraktys of commentaries: 1925 “Epitrepontes”, 1926 “Ion”, 1927 “Lysistrate” and 1928 Hesiod’s “Erga”. In this year also “Erinnerungen 1848-1914” appear. B. does not hesitate to criticise these enormous efforts of the old scholar as “composed with an all too swift pen” (=”etwas allzu schnelle Feder” p.12), a reservation raised time and again in this study, e.g. “quickly condensed and summarised” (= “schnell zusammengezurrt und -gefaßt” p.17), or “somewhat superficially and hastily” (= “etwas oberflächlich und hastig” p.20), and “sometimes a rushed superficiality” (= “bisweilen gehetzte Oberflächlichkeit” p.25). It is good to see that W. is not taken as an undisputable icon; it is even better to see that both sides, his weaknesses (e.g. his forced anachronisms, p.29) and also his achievements, are brought into the picture, especially his pointing to the importance of presentation on stage.

Maximilian Braun (Dresden): Wozu lernen wir Griechisch? Wilamowitz zwischen Klassizismus und Historismus, 37-50.

In a short study, B. presents a penetrating portrait of W.’s stance between classicism, historicism and humanism, concluding with Werner Jaeger’s obituary on W.: “Zwei Seelen rangen in seiner Brust unaufhörlich miteinander” (= “Two souls were wrestling in his bosom incessantly against each other”).2

Markus C. Dubischar (München): Wilamowitz und Sophocles. A Classicist Idol from the Perspective of an Anti-classicist Admirer, 51-86.

Seven sections provide an overview

— about W.’s work on Sophocles, 15 publications and seven academic classes between 1878 and 1923;

— about Sophocles in the 19th century, a panoramic view from Winckelmann 1754 to “Antigone”, performed 1841 at the ‘Hoftheater’ in Potsdam/Germany;

— about W.’s reaction to the prevailing idealisation of Sophocles;

— about his thoughts concerning the religion of Sophocles and

— about the nature of Greek tragedy; finally

— about W.’s evaluation of Sophocles the playwright and

— a comparison of von Goethe and von W. in their respective appreciation of Sophocles.

Not mentioned and not used is a fundamental piece of evidence, an indirectly transmitted Wilamowitzian testimony on his picture of Sophocles. As Wolfgang Schadewaldt tells us,3 W. had serious reservations about the poet; he saw in him the most difficult of all tragic writers “and could not really connect to him”. Dubischar himself offers a well balanced view: W. did not share the common opinion on Sophocles as the representative of classicism, but he felt captivated by the poetic beauty of his creations.

Stephan Heilen (Münster): Wilamowitz und Franz Boll. Ein Gelehrtenbriefwechsel (1894-1923), 87-159.

Certainly the most substantial contribution in this collection is Heilen’s edition of and notes to 34 letters exchanged between W. and Franz Boll.4 While the latter’s person and work are well described elsewhere,5 the text of the correspondence was unknown. It turns out to be of high interest: both researchers openly share their findings and their feelings with each other. They continue to assure each other of their reciprocal respect; W. even talks of friendship (= “Freundschaft” p. 148). They discuss, outside of Academia, the problems of Germany during and after WW I. While Boll deplores “the brutal force of the fists” (= “brutale Macht der Fäuste”, p.143), W. fears “Jews and their buddies” (= “Juden und Judengenossen”, p. 137). He hopes for the advent of a hero to solve the crisis (p. 140 ann. 170), for a charismatic leader.6 Heilen rightly sums up that here we observe W.’s sympathy for the reactionary political forces (= “Sympathie mit den reaktionären politischen Kräften”).

Markus Mülke (Münster): Wilamowitz über politische Zensur, 161-188.

The editor of our collection discusses the differences in W.’s judgement on the Athenian edict in 492 BC prohibiting the performance of the “Miletou Halosis” by Phrynichos. In 1889 W. had seen it as a meaningful act; in 1923, however, as “brutal abuse” (= “brutale Vergewaltigung”) brought about by democratic forces. Mülke follow’s W’s political thinking over the years and interprets the change in judgement as not only a scientific step, but also as epression of W.’s own experiences in his life.

Stefan Rebenich (Mannheim): “Da steht mir der Verstand still”. Adolf Harnack und Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff über die Schmidt-Spiegelberg-Kontroverse, 189-207.

This is the other edition in our volume: 7 documents relating to a fight in August 1901 between two scholars, Carl Schmidt and Wilhelm Spiegelberg. In 4 letters, Adolf von Harnack informs W. about the matter; even Mommsen sends a letter, suggesting reconciliation, to Richard Reitzenstein. Under his (Mommsen’s) letterhead Schmidt offers an explanation or declaration (= “Erklärung”), to be followed by another “Erklärung”, published by the “Commission on the Apostolic Fathers” in “Deutsche Literaturzeitung”, signed by Diels, von Gebhardt, Harnack, Mommsen, von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff. The names of these 5 heavyweights indicate how seriously they felt about an affair which is in itself of little interest, but which involves some machinations concerning position planning in higher ranks. Thus we see the functioning of backstage Wissenschaftsbetrieb: 5 big shots calming down an unimportant fight between 2 minor figures.

R. Scott Smith (New Hampshire): In Speculo Euripidis: Seneca Tragicus and Wilamowitz, 209-243.

One might argue that the title could easily be changed to “Wilamowitz and Friedrich Leo”; such is indeed the title of section II. (p. 216). This is followed by “III. Leo’s Edition” (p. 221) and “IV. Leo’s Text” (p. 226). It is only in “V. Wilamowitz’ Emendations” (p. 229) that we return to the central topic after a somewhat lengthy — though useful — detour. Also useful is the list of the 29 emendations (plus 3 deletions and 3 lacunae) proposed by Wilamowitz. More important, it seems, are the elucidations of the changes in the appreciation of Seneca Tragicus through some recent generations and also the final perspective: what “if Seneca (or Wilamowitz, for that matter) had lived and written a century earlier?” (p. 241). It is always dangerous to ask “what if?” but also always rewarding to contemplate possible answers.

Stephen M. Trzaskoma (New Hampshire): Wilamowitz and the Greek Novel, 245-261.

The last text is short and interesting; in fact its author sees in W.’s engagement with the Erotici Graeci merely “an interesting footnote” to his career (p. 245). T. finds not many statements of W. concerning the Greek Novel, but explains those texts correctly and makes us see the famous scholar writing on topics he is not estimating as central, despising the one author (Longos) and liking the other (Chariton).

The book is rounded out by an “Index nominum antiquorum” (263-5) and an “Index personarum” (265-70). It is mostly free of typos7 and leads the reader to the hope that the Honorandus may celebrate many more such anniversaries in a similarly fruitful fashion.


1. He figures in the text more Americanorum in such combinations as “Ulrich and Nietzsche” (p.4) or “Uli” (p.5).

2. It should be added that this is a quotation from von Goethe’s “Faust” I 3: “Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust, die eine will sich von der andern trennen.”

3. In his Nachwort to Sophokles, Die Tragödien, Exempla Classica 81, Frankfurt 1963, 384: “…ein Gelehrter wie Ulrich von Wilamowitz hat in seinen letzten Jahren zu dem Schreiber dieser Zeilen mehrfach bemerkt: Sophokles sei in dieser seiner sprachlichen Eigenständigkeit der Schwierigste unter den drei Tragikern und ihm — Wilamowtz — nie so recht zugänglich gewesen.”

4. One detail in the notes needs clarification. While Heilen rightly points to the repetition of the contrasting formula “Unsinn/Tollheit — Methode” (p. 64; 98; 133), he omits to name the source: it is Polonius, who describes Mad Hamlet (2,2) thus: “Though it be madness, yet there is method in it”.

5. A.Rehm, in Bursian’s Jahrbuch 214, 1927, 13-43; K.Meister, in Neue Jahrbücher 1, 1925, 321-330; R. Reitzenstein, in Nachrichten von der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen 1924-25, 44-52.

6. Heilen helpfully points to W.’s “Ein Held muß kommen!” in Svenska Dagbladet 05.10.1920, and to the fact, that W. in 1920 was considered for possible appointment as Minister for Cultural Affairs in a planned reactionary German Cabinet.

7. P. 211 ann. 6: for “Die Universitätslehrer” read “Der Universitätslehrer”; p. 247 for “Belehrun” read “Belehrung”; ibid. for “aber wüsste” read “aber ich wüsste” oder “aber man wüsste”; p. 249 for “Die quellen” read “Die Quellen”; ibid. for “den resten” read “den Resten” and for “titel” read “Titel”; p. 251 for “is” read “ist”.