After attending school at the Stoyschen Institute in Jena and the grammar school of Johanneums in Hamburg Rohde began in the summer semester 1865 study at the University of Bonn. The following winter semester, he moved like his fellow student Friedrich Nietzsche at the University of Leipzig, where his friendship began with Nietzsche. In the winter semester 1867 Rohde went to the University of Kiel, where he was doing his doctorate at March 9, 1869 at Otto Ribbeck with a dissertation on the ancient theater. According to a study trip to Italy, Rohde 1870 Habilitation in Kiel and started in the winter semester of teaching as a lecturer; In 1872 he became an associate professor. In 1875, he applied for the chair at the University of Dorpat, but the Wilhelm Hoerschelmann received. In 1876 Rohde to a offer of a full professorship at the University of Jena and went two years later to Tübingen. In 1886 he was appointed professor at the University of Leipzig, but moved after only one semester in the fall of the year at the University of Heidelberg, which he was Vice-Rector 1894/95.
During his time at Kiel Rohde had used the pamphlet after philology for the positions taken by Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy theses, which had been attacked by Ulrich von Wilamowitz- Moellendorff sharp. Years after this was definitely a courageous advocacy of Nietzsche 's friendship broke though. In contrast, the friendship remained with Franz Overbeck, who had come over their mutual friend Nietzsche concluded and was reflected in a lively correspondence, there are up to Rohde's death.
Although Rohde felt the Nietzsche archive as a " silly " idea, he supported it initially with some advice and assistance. After his death, Elisabeth Förster - Nietzsche invoked Rohde support they overdid far. Rohde's student Ernst Holzer worked long on the archive and gave Nietzsche Philologica out.
The resting place of the classical scholar Erwin Rohde is on the Heidelberg Mountain Cemetery. His tomb is an obelisk made of black polished granite. The inscription calls Rohde's name and his wife Valentine Rohde born Framm. The tomb is located in the Department of N.
- After philology. To light the of the Dr. phil. Ulrich published by Wilamowitz- Möllendorff Pamphlet: "Future Philology ". Missive a philologist to Richard Wagner. Fritsch, Leipzig 1872.
- The Greek novel and its precursors. Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig 1876; 3, enlarged edition 1914.
- Psyche. Seelencult and belief in immortality of the Greeks. Mohr, Freiburg im Breisgau, 1890-1894. ( Digitized and full text in German Text Archive )
- Small fonts. 2 vols. Mohr, Tübingen, 1901.
- Friedrich Nietzsche's correspondence with Erwin Rohde. Edited by Elisabeth Förster - Nietzsche and Fritz Scholl. Berlin 1902.