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Karl Otfried Müller (August 28, 1797August 1, 1840), was a German scholar and Philodorian.

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Karl Otfried Müller

He was born at Brieg in Silesia, and educated partly in Breslau and partly in Berlin. There his enthusiasm for the study of Greek literature, art and history was fostered by the influence of Böckh. In 1817, after the publication of his first work, Aegineticorum liber, he received an appointment at the Magdaleneum in Breslau, and in 1819 he was made adjunct professor of ancient literature at the University of Göttingen, his subject being the archaeology and history of ancient art.

His aim was to form a vivid conception of Greek life as a whole; and his books and lectures were a turning point in the development of Hellenic studies. Müller's position at Göttingen was made difficult by the political troubles which followed the accession of Ernest I of Hanover in 1837, he applied for permission to travel; and in 1839 he left Germany. In April of the following year he reached Greece, having spent the winter in Italy. He investigated the remains of ancient Athens, visited many places of interest in Peloponnesus, and finally went to Delphi, where he began excavations. He was attacked by intermittent fever, of which he died at Athens.

The most important of his historical works was his Geschichten hellenischen Stämme und Städte: Orchomenos und die Minyer (1820), and Die Dorier (1824), including the essay Über die Makedonier, on the settlements, origin and early history of the Macedonians. He introduced a new standard of accuracy in the cartography of ancient Greece. In 1828 he published Die Etrusker, a treatise on Etruscan antiquities.

His Prolegomena zu einer wissenschaftlichen Mythologie (1825; Eng. trans., J Leitch, 1844), in which he avoided the extreme views of GF Creuzer and CA Lobeck, prepared the way for the scientific investigation of myths; while the study of ancient art was promoted by his Handbuch der Archäologie der Kunst (1830; Eng. trans., J Leitch, 1847), and Denkmäler der alten Kunst (1832), which he wrote in association with C Osterley.

In 1840 appeared his History of the literature of Ancient Greece; the original German work from which it had been translated being issued in Germany in 1841. Chapters i.-xxii. were translated by Sir George Cornewall Lewis; chapters xxiii.-xxxvi. by JW Donaldson, who carried the work down to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. It remained one of the best books on the subject for many years. Müller also published an admirable translation of the Eumenides of Aeschylus with introductory essays (1833), and new editions of Varro (1833) and Festus (1839).

See memoir of his life by his brother Eduard, prefixed to the posthumous edition of Müller's Kleine deutsche Schriften (1847); F Lucke, Erinnerungen an K.O. Müller (Göttingen, 1841); F Ranke, K.O. Müller, ein Lebensbild (Berlin, 7870); C Bursian, Geschichte der klassischen Philologie in Deutschland (1883), ii. 1007-1028; C Dilthey, Otfried Müller (Göttingen, 1898); E Curtius, Altertum und Gegenwart; and JW Donaldson's essay On the Life and Writings of Karl Otfried Müller in vol. i. of the English translation of the history of Greek literature. A biography composed from his letters was published by O. and E. Kern, K. O. Müller, Lebensbild in Briefen an seine Eltern (7908); see also JE Sandys, Hist. of Classical Scholarship, iii. (1908), 213-216. 1

Quotes

  • "A democracy likes a large mass and hates all divisions." 2

Writings of Müller

  • The History and Antiquities of the Doric Race, 2nd. ed. rev., 2 Vol., trans. from the German by Henry Tufnell, ESQ, and George Cornewall Lewis, ESQ, A. M., publ. John Murray, Albemarle Str., London, 1839.

Reference

  1. The History and Antiquities of the Doric Race, Vol II, pg 396
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