Rudolf Pfeiffer

Rudolf Pfeiffer (fully Rudolf Franz Carl Otto Pfeiffer, born September 28, 1889 in Augsburg, † May 5, 1979 in Dachau ) was a German classical scholar. He is considered one of the most important representatives of his profession of the 20th century.

Life and work

Rudolf Pfeiffer was after studying classical philology in Munich, where he has been heavily influenced by Otto Crusius, first in the library service operates (1912-1921, UB Munich). But in 1916, after being seriously wounded at Verdun, he was determined to devote himself entirely to science. On leave from his job, he could employ in 1920 for a year in Berlin with Callimachus papyri newly found. He learned Wilamowitz know, apparently immediately recognized the great talent; for in any case convinced the steep academic career. Pfeiffer himself has spent his life harbored a deep reverence for the great scholar, so he was also involved in the publication of his "small fonts ".

After his habilitation in 1921 with Eduard Schwartz with the calli Macho studies Pfeiffer was appointed in 1923 to the professorship at the Friedrich- Wilhelm University, a position which was for many philologists to the starting point of a great career. In fact, he took over already in the same year the chair at the young University of Hamburg. From 1927 he taught in Freiburg, then as successor by Schwartz from 1929 to 1937 and again from 1951 until his retirement in 1957 in Munich. As a husband of a Jewess, he had to leave the state service in June 1937 and worked from 1938 to 1951 at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Mainly because of language problems, he received in 1946 a lecturer in the field of history of science, before he could reach proper positions in 1948 as "Senior Lecturer" and 1950 as " Reader" in his field. One of the stops in the heavy initial time he was also at Oxford University Press, which later moved his great books. Later he took on British citizenship and is the second home, Oxford and England, remained until his death in gratitude. His activities as a researcher, however, the stay was in exile opposed absolutely. Not only he was able to work with excellent scholars ( including German, as Eduard Fraenkel and Paul Maas ), the inexhaustible treasures of the city books on the one hand, the rich collections of papyri on the other hand, they seemed to have intended for his interest.

Even in the Munich time Rudolf Pfeiffer had extended his research to the entire width of Greek literature, Homer, lyric poetry and tragedy. In addition, however, the employment was with the field on, which had already been considered his dissertation and the occupied him again and again: humanism and Erasmus. The time at Oxford then was particularly beneficial for efforts to the Hellenistic poet Callimachus, which had already been subject to the habilitation thesis, together with the issuance of the new finds and what it Oxford the best possible work opportunities offered. The edition, published 1949-1953, is considered one of the greatest editorial achievements of the 20th century.

At least since 1953 Pfeiffer worked intensively with the plan to present the history of his times from the beginnings of a project for which nobody was better than him, who was the two epochs completely overlooked, which were crucial for Classical Philology: its justification in Hellenistic Alexandria both as their revival during the Renaissance. While the first volume is more of a series of profound special investigations, the second one gives the commanding view of a master on the achievements of its predecessor, which is readable for non-specialists. It is characteristic of the vision Pfeiffer of his subject, that he returned the adjective " Classic " in the title recorded ( although it's different than the circle around Werner Jaeger understood ) had, especially after Wilamowitz decidedly only of " philology " spoken.

It was made by Rudolf Pfeiffer yet to enter into this band. His legacy is preserved in the Bavarian State Library in Munich.