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Christian Gottlob Heine

Christian Gottlob Heyne (1729-1812), German classical scholar and archaeologist, was born on September 25 1729, at Chemnitz in Saxony. His father was a poor weaver, and the expenses of his early education were paid by one of his godfathers.

In 1748 he entered the university of Leipzig[?], where he was frequently in want of the necessaries of life. His distress had almost amounted to despair, when he procured the situation of tutor in the family of a French merchant in Leipzig, which enabled him to continue his studies. After he had completed his university course, he was for many years in very straitened circumstances.

An elegy written by him in Latin on the death of a friend attracted the attention of Count von Bruhl[?], the prime minister, who expressed a desire to see the author. Accordingly, in April 1752, Heyne journeyed to Dresden, believing that his fortune was made. He was well received; promised a secretaryship and a good salary, but nothing came of it. Another period of want followed, and it was only by persistent solicitation that Heyne was able to obtain the post of under-clerk in the count's library, with a salary of somewhat, less than twenty pounds sterling.

He increased his scanty pittance by translation; in addition to some French novels, he rendered into German The Loves of Chaereas and Callirrhoe of Chariton, the Greek romance writer. He published his first edition of Tibullus in 1755, and in 1756 his Epictetus. In the latter year the Seven Years' War broke out, and Heyne was once more in a state of destitution. In 1757 he was offered a tutorship in the household of Frau von Schonberg[?], where he met his future wife.

In January 1758 he accompanied his pupil to the university of Wittenberg, from which he was driven in 1760 by the Prussian cannons. The bombardment of Dresden (to which city he had meanwhile returned) on July 18 1760, destroyed all his possessions, including an almost finished edition of Lucian, based on a valuable codex of the Dresden Library. In the summer of 1761, although still without any fixed income, he married, and for some time he found it necessary to devote himself to the duties of land-steward to the Baron von Löben in Lusatia. At the end of 1762, however, he was esvibied to return to Dresden, where he was commissioned by PD Lippert to prepare the Latin text of the third voltime of his Dactyliotheca (art account of a collection of gems).

On the death of Johann Matthias Gesner at Göttingen in 1761, the vacant chair was refused first by Ernesti and then by Ruhnken, who persuaded Münchhatisen, the Hanoverian minister and prjncipal curator of the university to bestow it on Heyne (1763). His emoluments were gradually augmented, and his growing celebrity brought him most advantageous offers from other German governments, which he persistently refused. After a long and useful career, he died on July 14 1812.

Unlike Gottfried Hermann, Heyne regarded the study of grammar and language only as the means to an end, not as the chief object of philology. But, although not a critical scholar, he was the first to, attempt a scientific treatment of Greek mythology, and be gave an undoubted impulse to philological studies.

Of Heyne's numerous writings, the following may be mentioned. Editions, with copious commentaries, of Tibullus (ed. SC Wunderlich, 1817), Virgil (ed. GP Wagner, 1830-1841), Pindar (3rd ed. by GH Schafer, 1817), Apollodorus, Bibliotheca Graeca (1803), Homer, Iliad (1802); Opuscula academica (1785-1812), containing more than a hundred academical dissertations, of which the most valuable are those relating to the colonies of Greece and the antiquities of Etruscan art and history. His Antiquarische Aufsätze (1778-1779) is a valuable collection of essays connected with the history of ancient art. His contributions to the Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen are said to have been between 7000 and 8000 in number. See biography by AH Heeren (1813) which forms the basis of the interesting essay by Carlyle (Misc. Essays, ii.); H Sauppe[?], Göttinger Professoren (1872); C Bursian in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, xii.; JE Sandys, Hist. Class. Schol; iii. 36-44.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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