1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hermann, Johann Gottfried Jakob

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HERMANN, JOHANN GOTTFRIED JAKOB (1772-1848), German classical scholar and philologist, was born at Leipzig on the 28th of November 1772. Entering the university of his native city at the age of fourteen, Hermann at first studied law, which he soon abandoned for the classics. After a session at Jena in 1793-1794, he became a lecturer on classical literature in Leipzig, in 1798 professor extraordinarius of philosophy in the university, and in 1803 professor of eloquence (and poetry, 1809). He died on the 31st of December 1848. Hermann maintained that an accurate knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages was the only road to a clear understanding of the intellectual life of the ancient world, and the chief, if not the only, aim of philology. As the leader of this grammatico-critical school, he came into collision with A. Böckh and Otfried Müller, the representatives of the historico-antiquarian school, which regarded Hermann's view of philology as inadequate and one-sided.

Hermann devoted his early attention to the classical poetical metres, and published several works on that subject, the most important being Elementa doctrinae metricae (1816), in which he set forth a scientific theory based on the Kantian categories. His writings on Greek grammar are also valuable, especially De emendanda ratione Graecae grammaticae (1801), and notes and excursus on Viger's treatise on Greek idioms. His editions of the classics include several of the plays of Euripides; the Clouds of Aristophanes (1799); Trinummus of Plautus (1800); Poetica of Aristotle (1802); Orphica (1805); the Homeric Hymns (1806); and the Lexicon of Photius (1808). In 1825 Hermann finished the edition of Sophocles begun by Erfurdt. His edition of Aeschylus was published after his death in 1852. The Opuscula, a collection of his smaller writings in Latin, appeared in seven volumes between 1827 and 1839.

See monographs by O. Jahn (1849) and H. Köchly (1874); C. Bursian, Geschichte der klassischen Philologie in Deutschland (1883); art. in Allgem. deutsche Biog.; Sandys, Hist. Class. Schol. iii.