1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Curtius, Ernst

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

CURTIUS, ERNST (1814-1896), German archaeologist and historian, was born at Lübeck on the 2nd of September 1814. On completing his university studies he was chosen by C. A. Brandis to accompany him on a journey to Greece for the prosecution of archaeological researches. Curtius then became Otfried Müller's companion in his exploration of the Peloponnese, and on Müller's death in 1840 returned to Germany. In 1844 he became an extraordinary professor at the university of Berlin, and in the same year was appointed tutor to Prince Frederick William (afterwards the Emperor Frederick III.) — a post which he held till 1850. After holding a professorship at Göttingen and undertaking a further journey to Greece in 1862, Curtius was appointed (in 1863) ordinary professor at Berlin. In 1874 he was sent to Athens by the German government, and concluded an agreement by which the excavations at Olympia (q.v.) were entrusted exclusively to Germany. Curtius died at Berlin on the 11th of July 1896. His best-known work is his History of Greece (1857-1867, 6th ed. 1887-1888; Eng. trans. by A. W. Ward, 1868-1873). It presented in an attractive style what were then the latest results of scholarly research, but was criticized as wanting in erudition. It is now superseded (see Greece: History, Ancient, § Bibliography). His other writings are chiefly archaeological. The most important are: Die Akropolis von Athen (1844); Naxos (1846); Peloponnesos, eine historisch-geographische Beschreibung der Halbinsel (1851); Olympia (1852); Die Ionier vor der ionischen Wanderung (1855); Attische Studien (1862-1865); Ephesos (1874); Die Ausgrabungen zu Olympia (1877, &c.); Olympia und Umgegend (edited by Curtius and F. Adler, 1882); Olympia. Die Ergebnisse der von dem deutschen Reich veranstalteten Ausgrabung (with F. Adler, 1890-1898); Die Stadtgeschichte von Athen (1891); Gesammelte Abhandlungen (1894). His collected speeches and lectures were published under the title of Altertum und Gegenwart (5th ed., 1903 foll.), to which a third volume was added under the title of Unter drei Kaisern (2nd ed., 1895).

A full list of his writings will be found in L. Gurlitt, Erinnerungen an Ernst Curtius (Berlin, 1902); see also article by O. Kern in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, xlvii. (1903), to which may be added Ernst Curtius. Ein Lebensbild in Briefen, by F. Curtius (1903); T. Hodgkin, Ernest Curtius (1905).

His brother, Georg Curtius (1820-1885), philologist, was born at Lübeck on the 16th of April 1820. After an education at Bonn and Berlin he was for three years a schoolmaster in Dresden, until (in 1845) he returned to Berlin University as privat-docent. In 1849 he was placed in charge of the Philological Seminary at Prague, and two years later was appointed professor of classical philology in Prague University. In 1854 he removed from Prague to a similar appointment at Kiel, and again in 1862 from Kiel to Leipzig. He died at Hermsdorf on the 12th of August 1885. His philological theories exercised a widespread influence. The more important of his publications are: Die Sprachvergleichung in ihrem Verhältniss zur classischen Philologie (1845; Eng. trans, by F. H. Trithen, 1851); Sprachvergleichende Beiträge zur griechischen und lateinischen Grammatik (1846); Grundzüge der griechischen Etymologie (1858-1862, 5th ed. 1879); Das Verbum der griechischen Sprache (1873). The last two works have been translated into English by A. S. Wilkins and E. B. England. From 1878 till his death Curtius was general editor of the Leipziger Studien zur classischen Philologie. His Griechische Schulgrammatik, first published in 1852, has passed through more than twenty editions, and has been edited in English. In his last work, Zur Kritik der neuesten Sprachforschung (1885), he attacks the views of the “new” school of philology.

Opuscula of Georg Curtius were edited after his death by E. Windisch (Kleine Schriften von E. C., 1886-1887). For further information consult articles by R. Meister in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, xlvii. (1903), and by E. Windisch in C. Bursian's Biographisches Jahrbuch für Alterthumskunde (1886).