1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Müller, Karl Otfried
MÜLLER, KARL OTFRIED (1797-1840), German scholar, was born at Brieg in Silesia on the 28th of August 1797. He was educated partly in Breslau, partly in Berlin, where 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 in 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 marked an epoch in the development of Hellenic studies. Müller's position at Göttingen being rendered unpleasant by the political troubles which followed the accession of Ernest Augustus (duke of Cumberland) to the throne 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 on the 1st of August 1840.
Among his historical works the foremost place belongs to his Geschichten hellenischer Stämme und Städte: Orchomenos und die Minyer (1820), and Die Dorier (1824; Eng. trans. by H. Tufnell and Cornewall Lewis, 1830, 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 G. F. Creuzer and C. A. 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 in England his History of the Literature of Ancient Greece; the original German work from which it had been translated being issued in Germany in 1841 (4th ed. by E. Heitz, 1882). Chapters i.-xxii. were translated by Sir George Cornewall Lewis; chapters xxiii.-xxxvi. by J. W. Donaldson, who carried the work down to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. It is still one of the best books on the subject. 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 K. O. Müller's Kleine deutsche Schriften (1847); F. Lücke, Erinnerungen an K. O. Müller (Göttingen, 1841); F. Ranke, K. O. Müller, ein Lebensbild (Berlin, 1870); C. Bursian, Geschichte der klassischen Philologie in Deutschland (1883), ii. 1007-1028; C. Dilthey, Otfried Müller (Göttingen, 1898); E. Curtius, Altertum und Gegenwart; and J. W. 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 (1908); see also J. E. Sandys, Hist. of Classical Scholarship, iii. (1908), 213-216.