Otto Ribbeck was 1850 initially worked as a probationer in Bonn and Berlin, in 1852 as a teacher in Italy, 1853 in Berlin, and from 1854 to 1856 as a teacher at the high school in Elberfeld. He then became a professor at the University of Bern (1856-1861) and at the same Governing Council in Bern, a professor at the University of Basel (1861 /62), the University of Kiel ( 1862-1872 ) and the University of Heidelberg before 1877 his teacher Friedrich Wilhelm Ritschl followed in the chair of classical philology at the University of Leipzig. 1887/88 he was rector of the University of Leipzig.
Ribbeck was the author of several standard works on poets and poetry in the Roman Empire, most notably history of the Roman poetry (2nd edition 1894-1900 ), The Roman tragedy in the era of the Republic ( 1875); Scaenicae Romanorum Fragmenta poetry ( 3rd edition 1897).
As a textual critic he stepped out mainly by distinguished zeal that never hesitated to change all that, rearrange or reject as false what his standard is not met, tendencies in his editions of the Epistles and Ars Poetica of Horace (1869 ), the satires of Juvenal (1859 ) and stand out in the supplementary essay the real and imitation of Juvenal (1865 ). In later years he became more conservative.
As for his edition of Virgil (2nd edition 1894-1895 ), although only critical, the result of great learning, mainly the Prolegomena (see Prolegomenon ). His biography Ritschl (1879-1881) is one of the best works of this genre. The influence of his teacher is also noticeable in Ribbeck's critical edition of the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus and the contributions to the teaching of the Latin particles, a movement to regret that he did not publish more research in this direction. His speeches and lectures were published after his death (Leipzig 1899). He showed great interest in the monumental Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, and it is mainly due to his efforts that the Saxon government supported its production by a remarkable financial contribution.