Otto Kern

Otto Kern ( born February 14, 1863 in Schulpforte; † January 31, 1942 in Halle ( Saale) ) was a German philologist and archaeologist Classic. Core researched mainly for Greek religion (especially for Orphism ) and the ancient city of Magnesia on the Meander and employed later also with the history of archeology. Since 1907 he was a professor at the University of Halle -Wittenberg, whose rector he was 1915/16.


Otto Kern was born near Naumburg on the Saale. His father Franz core at the time was head teacher at the State Pforta, later he became headmaster of the school. Otto's mother was 14 years younger core Clara, nee Runge. His father made ​​him known to the early Greeks and also with the German literature, especially with Goethe. In Szczecin Otto Kern attended high school, where his religion teacher Anton Jonas introduced him to the history of religion. From 1883 to 1887, he studied classical philology and archeology at the universities of Berlin and Göttingen. His teachers there were renowned scientists such as Ernst Curtius, Ulrich von Wilamowitz- Moellendorff and Hermann Diels and Carl Robert, whose lives he examined later in a biography. Core Promotion took place on January 21, 1888 in Berlin with a thesis De Orphei Epimenidis Pherecydis theogoniis quaestiones criticae. After graduation, he was an assistant at Carl Robert.

In the following years (from 1889), he worked as an archaeologist in Italy, Greece and Asia Minor. From 1889 to 1891 he was a scholarship from the German Archaeological Institute (DAI ) touring the Mediterranean and dug from 1891, together with Carl Humann in the ancient city of Magnesia on the Meander. . Use this city, he was also in his habilitation thesis founding history of Magnesia on the Meander in 1894 Since 1894 lecturer in classical philology in Berlin, core 1897 was appointed associate professor at the University of Rostock; From 1903 he was a full professor there. In 1907 he joined the University of Halle, where he was 1915/16 elected rector. In Halle he founded the religious history working group " Thiasos ". Prior to his retirement in 1931 were made from 1925 to 1926, he traveled again to Thessaly. He received two honorary doctorates from the University of Halle: 1929, the Law and Political Science Faculty, 1930, the Faculty of Theology. Core was a member of the right-wing German Fatherland Party and then in the German National People's Party ( DNVP ).

Otto Kern died on 31 January 1942 at the age of 78 years. Parts of his estate are owned by the University Library ( Wilamowitz- biography ), in the Central Archives of the State Museums of Berlin ( materials about the Pozzo drawings ) and in the archives of the German Archaeological Institute ( a letter ).


Core researcher primarily in the area of religious history, his major work is the three-volume The religion of the Greeks ( 1926-1938 ). In it, he emphasized particularly the relative independence of the Greek religion of the Greek mythology, and instead emphasized the role of the religious cult. His special field of research were the Greek mystery cults and Orphism, with whom he had been involved in his dissertation and he later devoted several works ( Orpheus, 1920; Orphicorum fragmentary, 1922). On epigraphic field he published editions of the inscriptions of Magnesia on the Meander, the city in which he had conducted the excavations (especially the inscriptions of Magnesia on the Maeander, 1900). As part of the Inscriptiones Graecae he was commissioned to draw up an edition of the Greek inscriptions of Thessaly, which appeared in 1913.

In addition, he conducted research at the end of his career primarily on the history of archeology. In 1924 he published a biography of the German scientist Friedrich August Wolf antiquity; In 1927 he tried his hand on a biography of his teacher Hermann Diels and Carl Robert. Also for the exploration of the life and work of Karl Otfried Müller classicists he added, by issuing a portion of his letters and a diary (Carl Otfried Müller, 1908; correspondence, 1936). For the General German Biography He also wrote articles on major ancient historian and philologist. Before his death he was working on a biography of his teacher, Ulrich von Wilamowitz- Moellendorf, which he, however, could no longer accomplish. Core autobiographical writing My teachers ( manuscript, dated 1939, in the possession of the Archaeological Institute of the Humboldt -Universität zu Berlin) was published from 2002 to 2006 under the direction of Michael Hill Gruber and appeared in 2008.


  • De Orphei Epimenidis Pherecydis theogoniis quaestiones criticae. Berlin, 1888.
  • The founding history of Magnesia on the Maeander. A new certificate. In 1894.
  • The development of archeology at the University of Rostock. In 1906.
  • War and cult among the Hellenes. Halle a S. 1915.
  • Orpheus. A religious-historical investigation., 1920.
  • Friedrich August Wolf. M. Niemeyer, Halle a S. 1924.
  • The Greek mysteries of the classical period. Weidmannsche bookstore, Berlin, 1927.
  • Hermann Diels and Carl Robert. A biographical attempt. O. R. rice land, Leipzig 1927.
  • The religion of the Greeks. 3 volumes, Weidmann, Berlin 1926-1938 (reprint Berlin 1963).
  • My teachers. Memories. Edited by Michael Hill Gruber. Hildesheim 2008.
  • Carl Otfried Müller. Picture of life in letters to his parents with the diary of his Italian- Greek travel. Edited by Else and Otto Kern. Berlin 1908.
  • Inscriptiones Graecae. Volume 7, Marcus & Weber, Bonn 1913.
  • Orphicorum fragmentary. Weidmannsche bookstore, Berlin 1922.
  • From the official and scientific correspondence of Carl Otfried Müller. Selected pieces with explanations of Otto Kern. Göttingen 1936.