A forgotten scholar: the grammarian Peter Egenolff (1851-1901)

Bibliography is a perilous trade.  Let a man once follow a footnote, and he may find his hours and days consumed in searching for he knows not what – and wishes he did!

Today I made the acquaintance of a scholar who, as far as I can tell, is scarcely remembered.  I first encountered him in a terse 19th century footnote.

The occasion was that I started to read about Byzantine Zoology – the study of animals in that period.  The first author is a certain Timotheus of Gaza, who lived in the late 5th century, in the reign of the emperor Anastasius. The bibliographical source is Herbert Hunger’s Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur der Byzantiner, vol. 2, p.265.  But I quickly discovered material online telling me that Timotheus was a pupil of the Egyptian philosopher, Horapollo.  Unfortunately the ancient source was not specified.

However I was fortunate enough to come upon a preview of the Brill Companion to Ancient Greek Scholarship vol. 2, p.249, a volume hitherto unknown to me, giving a reference:

329. See Seitz [1892] 30 with n.3; cf. also Reitzenstein [1897] 312.

A bit of searching in the preview revealed that “Seitz” was Die Schule von Gaza, which was online here.  This in turn had a nice note on p.30 which referred to Dr Egenolff, in gnomic terms:

The statement is plain enough; the claim is made in a manuscript, the “Codex Vallicellianus E 11”.  Which is … what?  Well, I thought that I would look up “Egenolff, Progr. Heidelberg, 1888.”

This apparently simple task has consumed much of the afternoon.

“Egenolff” is in fact Dr. Peter Egenolff, born in Limburg-Offheim in 1851, and who died young in Heidelberg in 1901.  He seems to have spent his life in Heidelberg.  There is an online entry for him at the German national library here, which points to a book entry, online in bitmap here, with a couple of pages on his life.  Unfortunately the text was printed in Fraktur; and as neither German language nor Fraktur typeface is something I read with ease, the result is that I learned no more.

Somewhere there is Fraktur OCR, developed by Abbyy; but it was funded by public money in such a way that it was not made available to anyone.  So … unless some German gentleman cares to transcribe it, the entry will remain unreadable.

Searching for Egenolff’s work produces a series of pamphlets online, all rather obscure.  He seems to have specialised in philology, and in Greek grammatical and accentuation studies.  For instance he published two volumes of Anonymi Grammaticae Epitoma, in different places: volume 1 appeared in 1878; volume 2 in 1889.  These are extracts from manuscripts, with Latin preface and no translation.  For a while I thought that our snippet must be in these; and I wished that I had more time to devote to reading them.  He also published a Prolegomena in anonymi grammaticae epitomam; but this was in 1876 (online here).

Eventually I struck lucky: the volume is in fact Die Orthographischen Stücke der byzantinischen Litteratur / von P. Egenolff. … zu dem Programm des Gr. Gymnasiums Heidelberg für das Schuljahr 1887/88. (Online here). I think that Seitz could perhaps have picked a better abbreviation than “Progr.”.  And on the last page of the booklet – all these items are less than 50 pages – we find the material that I was looking for.  But that’s another story.

And I have still to look at “Reitzenstein”!

3 thoughts on “A forgotten scholar: the grammarian Peter Egenolff (1851-1901)

  1. The transcription, I am sorry I didn’t doublecheck. I am at ease with Fraktur but not so with German so I can’t translate it quickly, so lets hope somebody else translates it before I do.

    Peter Egenolff, am 31. Januar 1851 zu Offheim in Nassau geboren, besuchte das Gymnasium zu Hadamar und studierte seit 1871 zu Göttingen, München, Berlin und Straßburg, wo er besonders Studemunds Schüler war, alte Philologie und Geschichte. Nach bestandenem Staatsexamen und nachdem er den Doktorgrad sich erworben hatte, kam er 1875 als Praktikant an das Heidelberger Gymnasium, 1877 an dasjenige zu Mannheim, wurde 1878 Professor und kehrte 1887 wieder an das Gymnasium in Heidelberg zurück, wo er fast ausschließlich griechischen und lateinischen Unterricht gab. Von hoher Begeisterung für das klassische Altertum getragen, wohl vertraut mit Sprache und Literatur der Griechen und Römer, war er für den Unterricht, der ihm zugewiesen, trefflich gerüstet. Aus die Richtung und Art seiner wissenschaftlichen Tätigkeit war sein Straßburger Lehrer Studemund von maßgebendem Einfluß geworden. Dieser veranlaßte ihn, sich in erster Linie den griechischen Nationalgrammatikern zu widmen. Seine Befähigung für diese Studien bewies seine erste größere Arbeit, die Veröffentlichung der ersten Hälfte eines byzantinischen grammatischen Kompendiums unter eingehender Würdigung der Quellen. Mit dieser Schrift erwarb er die venia legendi an der Universität Heidelberg; den zweiten Teil hat er später in dem Studemund zu seinem fünfundzwanzigjährigen Doktorjubiläum von seinen Schülern dargebrachten Sammelbande publiziert. Mit einer Anzahl anderer Gelehrten verband er sich zur Herausgabe des Corpus Grammaticorum Graecorum, einer von dem Teubnerschen Verlag gewissermaßen als Parallelwerk zu dem Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum geplanten umfangreichen Sammlung, in der die Doktrin der griechischen Nationalgrammatiker in einer den jetzigen Ansprüchen der Wissenschaft genügenden Form veröffentlicht werden sollte. Egenolff wurde die Bearbeitung der orthoepischen und orthographischen Stücke übertragen. Es war ihm nicht vergönnt, diese Arbeit zum Abschluß zu bringen. Die Beschaffung des umfangreichen, weit zerstreuten handschriftlichen Materials bot große, nicht vorhergesehene Schwierigkeiten. Doch gelang es ihm, wenigstens einen Teil der Vorarbeiten zu erledigen; vor allem hat er den Plan und die Gesamtanlage der beiden von ihm übernommenen Bände in zwei Gymnasialprogrammen (Mannheim 1887 und Heidelberg 1888) dargelegt. Vorher hatte er in einer Mannheimer Programmbeilage (1880) zur Darstellung gebracht, wie das namentlich für die grammatische Terminologie grundlegende Handbüchlein des Thrakers Dionys in katechismusartigen Bearbeitungen mannigfache Wandlungen durchgemacht. Von der streng wissenschaftlichen Methode seines Arbeitens und der sicheren Beherrschung des weitschichtigen, zum Teil recht spröden Stoffes zeugen eine Reihe von kleineren gelegentlichen Veröffentlichungen und Abhandlungen in verschiedenen Zeitschriften. Wertvoll sind besonders die sechs in den Jahresberichten über die Fortschritte der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft enthaltenen eingehenden Berichte über die seit dem Ausgang der siebziger Jahre erschienenen wissenschaftlichen Leistungen, die sich aus die griechischen Grammatiker im weitesten Umsang beziehen. Hier begnügte er sich, ebenso wie in seinen Rezensionen, nicht mit einem Referat über das jeweils Geleistete, sondern er wußte aus der reichen Fülle seiner durch ein vortreffliches Gedächtnis unterstützten Kenntnisse und mit der ihm eigenen Klarheit und Schärfe des Urteils fast regelmäßig Beiträge zur Lösung von Streitfragen oder Anregung zu weiterer Forschung zu geben. — Egenolff erreichte ein Alter von nur wenig über fünffzig Jahren. Nachdem er bereits im Mai 1901 einen Schlaganfall erlitten hatte, von dem er sich jedoch rasch wieder zu erholen schien, machte ein Herzschlag in der Nacht vom 5. zum 6. September des gleichen Jahres seinem Leben ein jähes Ende. (A. Hilgard in den Südwestdeutschen Schulblättern 18 [1901], 328-330.)

  2. The previous commenter used an interesting trick to do the transcription: he found the book in Google Books, use their OCR / plain text, and then fixed the errors.

    Here’s what Google Translate makes of this:

    Peter Egenolff, born on January 31, 1851, at Offheim in Nassau, studied at Hadamar, and studied in Göttingen, Munich, Berlin, and Strasbourg since 1871, where he was especially Studemund’s pupil, old philology and history. After gaining his doctorate, he came to the Heidelberg Gymnasium in 1875, to the Mannheim in 1877, became professor in 1877, and returned to the Gymnasium in Heidelberg in 1887, where he studied almost exclusively Greek and Latin gave. Born of great enthusiasm for classical antiquity, well-versed in the language and literature of the Greeks and Romans, he was excellently prepared for the teaching which was assigned to him. From the direction and nature of his scientific activity, his Strasbourg teacher, Studemund, had become of decisive influence. This led him to devote himself chiefly to the Greek National Programmers. His proficiency in these studies proved his first major work, the publication of the first half of a Byzantine grammatical compendium, with a detailed appraisal of the sources. With this work he acquired the venia legendi at the University of Heidelberg; the second part he later published in the Studemund to his twenty-five-year-old doctoral lecture by his pupils. He combined with a number of other scholars the publication of the Corpus Grammaticorum Graecorum, a voluminous collection planned by the Teubnerschen Verlag as a parallel to the Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum, in which the doctrine of the Greek National-Grammarians is published in a form which satisfies current scientific requirements should. Egenolff was given the treatment of orthoepical and orthographic pieces. He was not allowed to finish this work. The acquisition of the extensive, widely scattered handwriting material offered great, unforeseen difficulties. But he succeeded in doing at least part of the preparatory work; above all, he has outlined the plan and the overall structure of the two volumes he has taken over in two grammar schools (Mannheim 1887 and Heidelberg 1888). Previously, he had shown in a Mannheim program supplement (1880) how the basic handbooks of the Thracian Dionys, in particular for the grammatical terminology, had undergone various changes in catechism-like adaptations. Of the strictly scientific method of his work and the safe mastery of the extensive, sometimes quite brittle material, a number of smaller occasional publications and dissertations appear in various journals. The six in the annual reports on the progress of the classical studies of antiquity are particularly valuable in the scientific achievements since the end of the seventies, which refer to Greek grammarians in the broadest range. Here, as in his reviews, he did not content himself with a lecture on what he had done, but he knew from the richness of his knowledge supported by an excellent memory, and with the clearness and sharpness of the judgment, Controversies or stimulus to further research. Egenolff reached an age of only little over fifty years. Having already suffered a stroke in May 1901, but from which he seemed to be recovering quickly, a heartbreak in the night from the 5th to the 6th of September of the same year made an abrupt end to his life. (A. Hilgard in the Southwest German School Pages 18 [1901], 328-330.)

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