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Lachmann, Karl Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm

One of the greatest of modern philologists and text-critics, born at Brunswick, March 4, 1793. He began his studies at the Katharineum in Brunswick, and at once showed an extraordinary aptitude for classical literature and linguistics. In 1809 he entered the University of Leipzig, where he studied philology and theology, soon, however, transferring himself to the University of Göttingen, where the stimulating influence of Heyne and Dissen powerfully affected his intellectual development. Besides working hard at classical philology, he pursued with much ardour the scientific study of Italian, English, and Old German. In 1815, carried away by the patriotic enthusiasm which swept over Germany, he enlisted as a volunteer in the army which in that year marched upon Paris; but he had no part in active fighting.

In 1816 he took the position of assistant master in the Friedrich Werder Gymnasium at Berlin, and, soon after, habilitated at the University of that place, publishing a dissertation on the Nibelungennoth, and almost simultaneously an edition of Propertius. Receiving an appointment as master in the Fridericianum of Königsberg, he assisted his colleague Köpke in editing Rudolf von Monfort's text of Barlaam and Josaphat (1818), and also in preparing notes for an edition of Walther von der Vogelweide. In January, 1818, he was appointed Professor Extraordinarius of Classical Philology in the University of Königsberg, where he had Lobeck for a colleague, and where he also lectured on Middle High German literature and Old German grammar. In 1824, having received leave of absence for this purpose, he devoted some time to a thorough search through the libraries of Germany, especially of Southern Germany, for unpublished material relating to these subjects. In February, 1825, he was called to the University of Berlin as Professor Extraordinarius of Classical and German Philology, and in 1827 was promoted to Professor Ordinarius. He died March 13, 1851.

Lachmann was one of the most truly scientific scholars that Germany has ever produced, and possessed a mind of singular originality, sagacity, and subtle power. In both classical and Germanic philology, and in New Testament criticism as well, his independent work has justly been styled “epoch-making.” “His influence,” says Nettleship, “on the general course of philological study has probably been greater than that of any single man during the present century. Many scholars who never saw him, and to whom he is only known by his books, have been inspired by the extraordinary impulse which he gave to critical methods. Greek, Latin, and German philology have alike felt the touch of the magician.”

His chief classical works are the following: Editions of Propertius (1816), Catullus (1829), Tibullus (1829), Genesis (1834), Terentianus Maurus (1836), Babrius (1845), Avianus (1845), Gaius (1841- 1842), the Agrimensores Romani (1848-52), Lucilius, and, above all, Lucretius (1850). Of this last great work, Professor Munro has justly said that it is “a work which will be a landmark for scholars as long as the Latin language continues to be studied.” In his Betrachtungen über die Ilias (1837, 1841), he attempted to show that the Iliad consists of sixteen independent “lays” that were subsequently enlarged and altered. (See Homerus.) In New Testament criticism he first carried out the plan first put forth by Richard Bentley (q.v.) of restoring the ancient readings current in the Eastern MSS., using the Latin authorities (and West Greek) as evidence in case of a divergence of readings in the oldest Eastern MSS. His smaller edition of the New Testament appeared in 1831 (3d ed. 1846); the larger one, in two volumes (Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine), in the preparation of which he was aided by Philip Buttmann, in 1842-50. Of his work in Germanic philology and literature it is not necessary to speak here. Lachmann's life has been written by M. Hertz, Karl Lachmann, eine Biographie (Berlin, 1851); and see Bursian, Geschichte der class. Philol., etc., pp. 789- 800 (Munich, 1883).

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