Theodor Mommsen
Overview
 
Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen (30 November 1817 – 1 November 1903) was a German classical scholar
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

, historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

, jurist
Jurist
A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies, or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American English, but in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries it has only historical and specialist usage...

, journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

, politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

, archaeologist, and writer generally regarded as the greatest classicist of the 19th century. His work regarding Roman history is still of fundamental importance for contemporary research. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

 in 1902, and was also a prominent German politician, as a member of the Prussian and German parliaments.
Encyclopedia
Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen (30 November 1817 – 1 November 1903) was a German classical scholar
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

, historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

, jurist
Jurist
A jurist or jurisconsult is a professional who studies, develops, applies, or otherwise deals with the law. The term is widely used in American English, but in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries it has only historical and specialist usage...

, journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

, politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

, archaeologist, and writer generally regarded as the greatest classicist of the 19th century. His work regarding Roman history is still of fundamental importance for contemporary research. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

 in 1902, and was also a prominent German politician, as a member of the Prussian and German parliaments. His works on Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 and on the law of obligations
Law of obligations
The law of obligations is one of the component private law elements of the civil system of law. It includes contract law, delict law, quasi-contract law, and quasi-delict law...

 had a significant impact on the German civil code
Civil code
A civil code is a systematic collection of laws designed to comprehensively deal with the core areas of private law. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure...

 (BGB
Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch
The Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch is the civil code of Germany. In development since 1881, it became effective on January 1, 1900, and was considered a massive and groundbreaking project....

).

Life

Mommsen was born in Garding
Garding
Garding is a town in the district of Nordfriesland, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It has a population of 2,700 . It is located in the Eiderstedt peninsula, and part of the Amt Eiderstedt....

 in Schleswig
Schleswig
Schleswig or South Jutland is a region covering the area about 60 km north and 70 km south of the border between Germany and Denmark; the territory has been divided between the two countries since 1920, with Northern Schleswig in Denmark and Southern Schleswig in Germany...

 in 1817, and grew up in Bad Oldesloe
Bad Oldesloe
Bad Oldesloe is a town located in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. It is the capital of the Kreis Stormarn .The area has been inhabited since mesolithic times. The flint tools found here from that era are clearly defined and known as the Oldesloer Stufe...

, where his father was a Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 minister. He studied mostly at home, though he attended the gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

 Christianeum
Christianeum Hamburg
The Christianeum in Hamburg is a famous former "Latin school" in Hamburg, northern Germany. Founded in 1738 by King Christian VI of Denmark, it is now housed in a building planned by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen.-History:...

 in Altona
Altona, Hamburg
Altona is the westernmost urban borough of the German city state of Hamburg, on the right bank of the Elbe river. From 1640 to 1864 Altona was under the administration of the Danish monarchy. Altona was an independent city until 1937...

 for four years. He studied Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and received his diploma in 1837, with the degree of Doctor of Roman Law. As he could not afford to study at one of the more prestigious German universities, he enrolled at the University of Kiel
University of Kiel
The University of Kiel is a university in the city of Kiel, Germany. It was founded in 1665 as the Academia Holsatorum Chiloniensis by Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp and has approximately 23,000 students today...

 in Holstein
Holstein
Holstein is the region between the rivers Elbe and Eider. It is part of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany....

.

Mommsen studied jurisprudence
Jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

 at Kiel from 1838 to 1843. Thanks to a Danish grant, he was able to visit France and Italy to study preserved classical Roman inscriptions. During the revolution of 1848 he supported monarchists and worked as a war correspondent in then-Danish Rendsburg
Rendsburg
Rendsburg is a town on the River Eider and the Kiel Canal in the northeastern part of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is the capital of the Kreis of Rendsburg-Eckernförde. As of 2006, it had a population of 28,476.-History:...

, supporting the German annexation of Schleswig-Holstein and constitutional reform. He became a professor of law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 in the same year at the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

. When Mommsen protested against the new constitution of Saxony
Kingdom of Saxony
The Kingdom of Saxony , lasting between 1806 and 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in Napoleonic through post-Napoleonic Germany. From 1871 it was part of the German Empire. It became a Free state in the era of Weimar Republic in 1918 after the end of World War...

 in 1851, he had to resign. However, the next year he obtained a professorship in Roman law the University of Zurich
University of Zurich
The University of Zurich , located in the city of Zurich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 25,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy....

 and then spent a couple of years in exile. In 1854 he became a professor of law at the University of Breslau where he met Jakob Bernays
Jakob Bernays
Jakob Bernays was a German philologist and philosophical writer.-Life:Bernays was born in Hamburg to Jewish parents...

. Mommsen became a research professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences
Prussian Academy of Sciences
The Prussian Academy of Sciences was an academy established in Berlin on 11 July 1700, four years after the Akademie der Künste or "Arts Academy", to which "Berlin Academy" may also refer.-Origins:...

 in 1857. He later helped to create and manage the German Archaeological Institute in Rome.

In 1858 Mommsen was appointed a member of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin, and he also became professor of Roman History at the University of Berlin in 1861, where he held lectures up to 1887. Mommsen received high recognition for his academic achievements: the medal Pour le Mérite
Pour le Mérite
The Pour le Mérite, known informally as the Blue Max , was the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order for German soldiers until the end of World War I....

 in 1868, honorary citizenship of Rome, and the Nobel prize for literature in 1902 for his main work Römische Geschichte (Roman History). (He is one of the very few non-fiction
Non-fiction
Non-fiction is the form of any narrative, account, or other communicative work whose assertions and descriptions are understood to be fact...

 writers to receive the Nobel prize in literature.)

At 2 a.m. on 7 July 1880 a fire occurred in the upper floor workroom-library of Mommsen's house at Marchstraße 6 in Berlin. Several old manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

s were burnt to ashes, including Manuscript 0.4.36 which was on loan from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

; There is information that the Manuscript of Jordanes from Heidelberg University
Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg
The Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg is a public research university located in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Founded in 1386, it is the oldest university in Germany and was the third university established in the Holy Roman Empire. Heidelberg has been a coeducational institution...

 library was burnt. Two other important manuscripts, from Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 and Halle
Halle, Saxony-Anhalt
Halle is the largest city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. It is also called Halle an der Saale in order to distinguish it from the town of Halle in North Rhine-Westphalia...

, were also destroyed.

Mommsen had sixteen children with his wife Marie (daughter of the publisher and editor Karl Reimer of Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

), some of whom died in childhood. Two of his great-grandsons, Hans
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen is a left-wing German historian. He is the twin brother of the late Wolfgang Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen and great-grandson of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen. He studied German, history and philosophy at the University of...

 and Wolfgang
Wolfgang Mommsen
Wolfgang Justin Mommsen was a German historian. He was the twin brother of Hans Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen. He was educated at the University of Marburg, University of Cologne and University of Leeds between 1951–1959...

, are prominent German historians.

Mommsen worked hard. He rose at five and began to work in his library. Whenever he went out, he took one of his books along to read, and contemporaries often found him reading whilst walking in the streets. There is an anecdote regarding him which states that he was so absorbed in a book that he was not aware of a parade passing, and walked directly through it.

Scholarly works

Mommsen published over 1,500 works, and effectively established a new framework for the systematic study of Roman
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 history. He pioneered epigraphy
Epigraphy
Epigraphy Epigraphy Epigraphy (from the , literally "on-writing", is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; that is, the science of identifying the graphemes and of classifying their use as to cultural context and date, elucidating their meaning and assessing what conclusions can be...

, the study of inscriptions in material artifacts. Although the unfinished History of Rome
History of Rome (Mommsen)
The History of Rome is a multi-volume history of ancient Rome written by Theodor Mommsen . Originally published by Reimer & Hirsel, Leipzig, as three volumes during 1854-1856, the work dealt with the Roman Republic. A subsequent book was issued which concerned the provinces of the Roman Empire...

has been widely considered as his main work, the work most relevant today is perhaps the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum is a comprehensive collection of ancient Latin inscriptions. It forms an authoritative source for documenting the surviving epigraphy of classical antiquity. Public and personal inscriptions throw light on all aspects of Roman life and history...

, a collection of Roman inscriptions he contributed to the Berlin Academy
Prussian Academy of Sciences
The Prussian Academy of Sciences was an academy established in Berlin on 11 July 1700, four years after the Akademie der Künste or "Arts Academy", to which "Berlin Academy" may also refer.-Origins:...

.
  • Mommsen's History of Rome
    History of Rome (Mommsen)
    The History of Rome is a multi-volume history of ancient Rome written by Theodor Mommsen . Originally published by Reimer & Hirsel, Leipzig, as three volumes during 1854-1856, the work dealt with the Roman Republic. A subsequent book was issued which concerned the provinces of the Roman Empire...

    : His most famous work appeared as three volumes in 1854, 1855, and 1856; it expounded Roman history up to the end of the Roman republic
    Roman Republic
    The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

     and the rule of Julius Caesar
    Julius Caesar
    Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

    . He closely compared the political thought and terminology of the ancient Republic, especially during its last century, with the situation of his own time, e.g., the nation-state
    Nation-state
    The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

    , democracy
    Democracy
    Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

     and incipent imperialism
    Imperialism
    Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

    . It is one of the great classics of historical works. Mommsen did not write a promised next volume to recount subsequent events during the imperial period
    Roman Empire
    The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

    , i.e., a volume 4, although demand was high for a continuation. Immediately very popular and acknowledged internationally by classical scholars, the work also quickly received criticism.
    • The Provinces of the Roman Empire from Caesar to Diocletian (1885), published as volume 5 of his History of Rome
      History of Rome (Mommsen)
      The History of Rome is a multi-volume history of ancient Rome written by Theodor Mommsen . Originally published by Reimer & Hirsel, Leipzig, as three volumes during 1854-1856, the work dealt with the Roman Republic. A subsequent book was issued which concerned the provinces of the Roman Empire...

      , being a description of all Roman regions during the early imperial period.

  • Roman Chronology to the Time of Caesar (1858) written with his brother August Mommsen.
  • Roman Constitutional Law (1871–1888). This systematic treatment of Roman constitutional law
    Roman law
    Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

     in three volumes has been of importance for research on ancient history.

  • Roman Criminal Law (1899)
  • Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
    Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
    The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum is a comprehensive collection of ancient Latin inscriptions. It forms an authoritative source for documenting the surviving epigraphy of classical antiquity. Public and personal inscriptions throw light on all aspects of Roman life and history...

    , lead editor and editor (1861, et seq.)
  • Digesta (of Justinian
    Justinian I
    Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

    ), editor (1866–1870, two volumes)
  • Iordanis Romana et Getica (1882) was Mommsen's critical edition of Jordanes
    Jordanes
    Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

    ' The Origin and Deeds of the Goths and has subsequently come to be generally known simply as Getica.
  • Codex Theodosianus
    Codex Theodosianus
    The Codex Theodosianus was a compilation of the laws of the Roman Empire under the Christian emperors since 312. A commission was established by Theodosius II in 429 and the compilation was published in the eastern half of the Roman Empire in 438...

    , editor (1905, posthumous)
  • Monumentum Ancyranum
  • More than 1,500 further studies and treatises on single issues.


A bibliography of over 1,000 of his works is given by Zangemeister in Mommsen als Schriftsteller (1887; continued by Jacobs, 1905).

Mommsen as editor and organiser

While he was secretary of the Historical-Philological Class at the Berlin Academy
Prussian Academy of Sciences
The Prussian Academy of Sciences was an academy established in Berlin on 11 July 1700, four years after the Akademie der Künste or "Arts Academy", to which "Berlin Academy" may also refer.-Origins:...

 (1874–1895), Mommsen organised countless scientific projects, mostly editions of original sources.

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

At the beginning of his career, when he published the inscriptions of the Neapolitan
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 Kingdom (1852), Mommsen already had in mind a collection of all known ancient Latin inscriptions. He received additional impetus and training from Bartolomeo Borghesi
Bartolomeo Borghesi
Bartolomeo Borghesi was an Italian antiquarian who was a key figure in establishing the science of numismatics....

 of San Marino
San Marino
San Marino, officially the Republic of San Marino , is a state situated on the Italian Peninsula on the eastern side of the Apennine Mountains. It is an enclave surrounded by Italy. Its size is just over with an estimated population of over 30,000. Its capital is the City of San Marino...

. The complete Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum is a comprehensive collection of ancient Latin inscriptions. It forms an authoritative source for documenting the surviving epigraphy of classical antiquity. Public and personal inscriptions throw light on all aspects of Roman life and history...

would consist of sixteen volumes. Fifteen of them appeared in Mommsen's lifetime and he wrote five of them himself. The basic principle of the edition (contrary to previous collections) was the method of autopsy, according to which all copies (i.e., modern transcriptions) of inscriptions were to be checked and compared to the original.

Further editions and research projects

Mommsen published the fundamental collections in Roman law: the Corpus Iuris Civilis and the Codex Theodosianus
Codex Theodosianus
The Codex Theodosianus was a compilation of the laws of the Roman Empire under the Christian emperors since 312. A commission was established by Theodosius II in 429 and the compilation was published in the eastern half of the Roman Empire in 438...

. Furthermore, he played an important role in the publication of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica
Monumenta Germaniae Historica
The Monumenta Germaniae Historica is a comprehensive series of carefully edited and published sources for the study of German history from the end of the Roman Empire to 1500.The society sponsoring the series was established by the Prussian reformer Heinrich Friedrich Karl Freiherr vom...

, the edition of the texts of the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

, the Limes Romanus
Limes
A limes was a border defense or delimiting system of Ancient Rome. It marked the boundaries of the Roman Empire.The Latin noun limes had a number of different meanings: a path or balk delimiting fields, a boundary line or marker, any road or path, any channel, such as a stream channel, or any...

 (Roman frontiers) research and countless other projects.

Mommsen as politician

Mommsen was a delegate to the Prussian House of Representatives from 1863–66 and again from 1873–79, and delegate to the Reichstag
Reichstag (German Empire)
The Reichstag was the parliament of the North German Confederation , and of the German Reich ....

 from 1881–1884, at first for the liberal German Progress Party
German Progress Party
The German Progress Party was the first modern political party with a program in Germany, founded by the liberal members of the Prussian Lower House in 6 June, 1861....

 (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei), later for the National Liberal Party
National Liberal Party (Germany)
The National Liberal Party was a German political party which flourished between 1867 and 1918. It was formed by Prussian liberals who put aside their differences with Bismarck over domestic policy due to their support for his highly successful foreign policy, which resulted in the unification of...

, and finally for the Secessionists
Liberal Union (Germany)
The Liberal Union was a short-lived liberal party in the German Empire. It was founded as a break-away from the National Liberal Party, therefore also called Secession, in 1880, and merged with the left liberal German Progress Party to form the German Free-minded Party in 1884.The leftist faction...

. He was very concerned with questions about academic and educational policies and held national positions. Although he had supported German Unification, he was disappointed with the politics of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, regarding whose future he was quite pessimistic. Mommsen strongly disagreed with Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

 about social policies in 1881, advising collaboration between Liberals and Social Democrats and using such strong language that he narrowly avoided prosecution.

In 1879, his colleague Heinrich von Treitschke
Heinrich von Treitschke
Heinrich Gotthard von Treitschke was a nationalist German historian and political writer during the time of the German Empire.-Early life and teaching career:...

 began a political campaign against Jews (the so-called Berliner Antisemitismusstreit). Mommsen strongly opposed antisemitism and wrote a harsh pamphlet in which he denounced von Treitschke's views. Mommsen viewed a solution to antisemitism in voluntary cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

, suggesting that the Jews could follow the example of the people of Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

, Hanover and other German states, which gave up some of the special customs when integrating in Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

.

Mommsen was a violent supporter of German nationalism, maintaining a militant attitude towards the Slavic nations
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

. In an 1897 letter to the Neue Freie Presse
Neue Freie Presse
Neue Freie Presse known locally as "Die Presse" was a Viennese newspaper founded by Adolf Werthner together with the journalists Max Friedländer and Michael Etienne on 1 September 1864...

of Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Mommsen called Czechs "apostles of barbarism" and wrote that "the Czech skull is impervious to reason, but it is susceptible to blows".

Influence of Mommsen

Fellow Nobel Laureate (1925) Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 cited Mommsen's interpretation of the last First Consul of the Republic, Julius Caesar, as one of the inspirations for his 1898 (1905 on Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

) play, Caesar and Cleopatra
Caesar and Cleopatra (play)
Caesar and Cleopatra, a play written in 1898 by George Bernard Shaw, was first staged in 1901 and first published with Captain Brassbound's Conversion and The Devil's Disciple in his 1901 collection, Three Plays for Puritans. It was first performed at Newcastle-on-Tyne on March 15, 1899...

.

Noted naval historian and theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan
Alfred Thayer Mahan
Alfred Thayer Mahan was a United States Navy flag officer, geostrategist, and historian, who has been called "the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century." His concept of "sea power" was based on the idea that countries with greater naval power will have greater worldwide...

 formulated the thesis for his magnum opus, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History
The Influence of Sea Power upon History
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660-1783 is a history of naval warfare written in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan. It details the role of sea power throughout history and discusses the various factors needed to support and achieve sea power, with emphasis on having the largest and most...

, while reading Mommsen's History of Rome.

The playwright Heiner Müller
Heiner Müller
Heiner Müller was a German dramatist, poet, writer, essayist and theatre director. Described as "the theatre's greatest living poet" since Samuel Beckett, Müller is arguably the most important German dramatist of the 20th century after Bertolt Brecht...

 wrote a 'performance text' entitled Mommsens Block (1993), inspired by the publication of Mommsen's fragmentary notes on the later Roman empire and by the East German government's decision to replace a statue of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 outside the Humboldt University of Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

 with one of Mommsen.

There is a Gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

 (academic high school) named for Mommsen in his hometown of Bad Oldesloe
Bad Oldesloe
Bad Oldesloe is a town located in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. It is the capital of the Kreis Stormarn .The area has been inhabited since mesolithic times. The flint tools found here from that era are clearly defined and known as the Oldesloer Stufe...

, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

Mark Twain

"One of the highpoints of Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

's European tour of 1892 was a large formal banquet at the University of Berlin... . Mark Twain was an honored guest, seated at the head table with some twenty 'particularly eminent professors'; and it was from this vantage point that he witnessed the following incident... ." In Twain's own words:

"When apparently the last eminent guest had long ago taken his place, again those three bugle-blasts rang out, and once more the swords leaped from their scabbards. Who might this late comer be? Nobody was interested to inquire. Still, indolent eyes were turned toward the distant entrance, and we saw the silken gleam and the lifted sword of a guard of honor plowing through the remote crowds. Then we saw that end of the house rising to its feet; saw it rise abreast the advancing guard all along like a wave. This supreme honor had been offered to no one before. There was an excited whisper at our table—'MOMMSEN!'—and the whole house rose. Rose and shouted and stamped and clapped and banged the beer mugs. Just simply a storm!


Then the little man with his long hair and Emersonian
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

 face edged his way past us and took his seat. I could have touched him with my hand—Mommsen!—think of it!...I would have walked a great many miles to get a sight of him, and here he was, without trouble or tramp or cost of any kind. Here he was clothed in a titanic deceptive modesty which made him look like other men."

Further reading

  • Alexander Demandt
    Alexander Demandt
    Alexander Demandt is a German historian. He was professor of ancient history at the Free University of Berlin from 1974 to 2005. Demandt is a renowned expert of the History of Rome.-References:...

    , Mommsen, Theodor, in: Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). Band 18, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1997, 25–27.
  • Karl Christ
    Karl Christ
    Leutnant Karl Christ was a World War I flying ace credited with five aerial victories.-Awards:*Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class*Hessische Tapferkeits-Medaille...

    , Theodor Mommsen und die „Römische Geschichte“, dtv, München 2001, ISBN 3-423-59055-6.
  • Lionel Gossman
    Lionel Gossman
    Lionel Gossman is a Scottish-American scholar of French literature. He taught Romance Languages at Johns Hopkins University and Princeton University, and has written extensively on the history, theory and practice of historiography, and more recently, on aspects of German cultural...

    , “Orpheus Philologus: Bachofen versus Mommsen on the Study of Antiquity.” American Philosophical Society, 1983. http://dianepub.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/lionel-gossman-orpheus-philologus-bachofen-versus-mommsen-on-the-study-of-antiquity-american-philosophical-society-transactions-73-5-isbn-142237467x/ ISBN 142237467X.
  • Anthony Grafton
    Anthony Grafton
    Anthony Grafton is a historian and the current Henry Putnam University Professor at Princeton University. He is also a corresponding fellow of the British Academy and a recipient of the Balzan Prize...

    , "Roman Monument" History Today September 2006 online.
  • Alfred Heuß, Theodor Mommsen und das 19. Jahrhundert, Steiner, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-515-06966-6.
  • Peter Köpf, Die Mommsens. Von 1848 bis heute – die Geschichte einer Familie ist die Geschichte der Deutschen, Europa Verlag, Leipzig 2004, ISBN 3-203-79147-1.
  • Realino Marra, Weber, Mommsen e il significato della avalutatività, «Materiali per una storia della cultura giuridica», XXX-2, dicembre 2000, 479-92.
  • Tommaso Masiello, Mommsen e il diritto penale romano, Cacucci, Bari, 1996, ISBN, 502992
  • Wilfried Nippel, Bernd Seidensticker (eds), Theodor Mommsens langer Schatten. Das römische Staatsrecht als bleibende Herausforderung für die Forschung, Olms Verlag, Hildesheim 2005, ISBN 3-487-13086-6..
  • Stefan Rebenich, Theodor Mommsen: eine Biographie. Beck, München 2002, ISBN 3-406-49295-9.
  • Lothar Wickert, Theodor Mommsen, Klostermann, Frankfurt/Main, I-IV, 1959–1980, ISBN 2757765
  • Josef Wiesehöfer
    Josef Wiesehöfer
    Josef Wiesehöfer is a German classical scholar and current professor of Ancient history at the Department of Classics of the University of Kiel...

     (ed.), Theodor Mommsen: Gelehrter, Politiker und Literat, unter Mitarbeit von Henning Börm. Stuttgart, 2005. (see review).

External links

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