GESNER, JOHANN MATTHIAS (1691–1761), German classical scholar and schoolmaster, was born at Roth near Ansbach on the 9th of April 1691. He studied at the university of Jena, and in published a work on the Philopatris ascribed to Lucian. In 1715 he became librarian and connector (vice-principal) at Weimar, in 1729 rector of the gymnasium at Ansbach, and in 1730 rector of the Thomas school at Leipzig. On the foundation of the university of Göttingen he became professor of rhetoric (1734) and subsequently librarian. He died at Göttingen on the 3rd of August 1761. His special merit lies in the attention he devoted to the explanation and illustration of the subject matter of the classical authors.
His principal works are: editions of the Scriptores rei rusticae, of Quintilian, Claudian, Pliny the Younger, Horace and the Orphic poems (published after his death); Primae lineae isagoges in eruditionera universalem (1756); an edition of B. Faber's Thesaurus eruditionis scholasticae (1726), afterwards continued under the title Novus linguae et eruditionis Romanae thesaurus (1749); Opuscula minora varii argumenti (1743–1745); Thesaurus epistolicus Gesnerianus (ed. Klotz, 1768–1770); Index etymologicus latinitatis (1749). See J. A. Ernesti, Opuscula oratoria (1762) p. 305; H. Sauppe, Göttinger Professoren (1872); C. H. Pöhnert, J. M. Gesner und sein Verhältnis zum Philanthropinismus und Neuhumanismus (1898), a contribution to the history of pedagogy in the 18th century; articles by F. A. Eckstein in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie ix.; and Sandys, Hist. of Class. Schol. iii. (1908), 5-9.