Scholia Reviews ns 14 (2005) 33.

Ludwig Bernays (ed.), Otto Friedrich Gruppe 1804- 1876: Philosoph, Dichter, Philologe. Paradeigmata 3. Freiburg-in-Breisgau: Rombach Verlag, 2004. Pp. 283. ISBN 3-7930-9377-8. Euro39.90.

Bernhard Kytzler
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

The Gruppe family was a dynasty in the field of Classics like no other. In 1904 Otto Gruppe commemorated the hundredth birthday of his father, Otto Friedrich Gruppe; now, in 2004, the great- grandson, Ludwig Bernays, commemorates the two- hundredth birthday of his great-grandfather. The son, a hundred years ago, edited a collection of his father's German poems, some of them set to music by such famous artists as Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss, Karl Löwe, and Franz Schreker. In our time, the great-grandson presents us with a collection of fifteen fresh articles by contemporary scholars from France, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Norway, and the USA -- two of them in French, seven in German, four in English, and two in Italian. They all discuss the influence of Otto Friedrich Gruppe in many fields, such as Classics, Translation Studies, German Literature, Linguistics, Philosophy, Mythology, but also his work as secretary of the Preußische Akademie der Künste in Berlin, where he served for the last fourteen years of his life, to be succeeded by the famous author Theodor Fontane.

O-F. Gruppe's son, Otto Gruppe (1851-1901), is well known in Classics as the author of 'Griechische Mythologie und Religionsgeschichte' and of 'Geschichte der Klassischen Mythologie und Religionsgeschichte während des Mittelalters in Abendland und während der Neuzeit'.[[1]] The great- grandson, Ludwig Bernays, born in 1924, worked for four decades as a general practitioner. He studied Classical Philology and published a number of valuable studies, now collected under the title Ars Poetica (Frankfurt-am-Main 2000).

Ecco la famiglia -- but what about the founder? And what about his present influence? The subtitle calls him 'Philosoph, Dichter, Philologe'. His poetry, however, is not discussed in this volume. His scholarly writings, on the other hand, are thoroughly analyzed, and their influence until the present day is outlined carefully.

Fighting against Hegel, his Berlin teacher, Gruppe the philosopher was not appreciated by many academics during the nineteenth century; he was aggressively attacked by Karl Marx, and severely criticised by others. But Gruppe the philosopher was rediscovered by Fritz Mauthner in 1913.[[2]] He was understood as a precursor of Wittgenstein by H. Sluga in 1980,[[3]] and his 'Gegenwart und Zukunft der Philosophie in Deutschland' of 1855 was reprinted in 1996.[[4]] This development is described by Pascale Hummel, 'Savant et écrivain: O.F. Gruppe ou la philologie sans frontières' (pp. 15-29); by Olaf Briese, who calls him a 'Philosoph im nachmetaphysischen Aufbruch' (pp. 31-48) ; by Volker Peckhaus (on 'Gruppe und die logische Frage', pp. 49-72); by Katherine Arens ('On the Critique of Lanquage', pp. 73-94); and by Luc J. M. Bermans ('Gruppe and Dutch Significs', pp. 95- 114).

A discussion of Gruppe's 'Preisschrift' of 1840 on the fragments of Archytas by Gregor Staab (pp. 201- 25) outlines the fate and the consequences of this semi-successful work. The picture is rounded out by the final essay of the volume (pp. 249-79), 'Gruppe's unique place in the history of the critique of metaphysics' by Guido Vanheeswijk and Herbert de Vriese. They state that 'it is generally agreed that Kierkegaard and Marx had been influenced by Gruppe' (pp. 25, 254).

William Baker, who traces 'the relationship between Gruppe and the great Victorian novelist George Eliot and her consort the philosopher, literary critic, distinguished editor and biographer, George Henry Lewes' (p. 115-25), holds a place of his own. Here we come across Eliot's portrait of Gruppe (p. 120) whom she describes as a somehow Spitzwegian figure, 'wrapt in a moth-eaten grey coat, once a great coat, now converted into a schlafrock, and a cap on his head'. There are also her contradictory remarks on his wife, who is 'about 20 years younger than himself' in 1855 and 'about 30 years younger' in her 'Recollections' many years later -- not to mention Briese who makes her 25 years younger (p. 46). Quot homines, tot sententiae!

What follows is mostly dedicated to Gruppe's contributions to Classical Philology. Mathilde Skoie's study on 'Gruppe -- the father of Sulpician scholarship' (pp. 127-46), a concentrated version of a chapter from her book 'Reading Sulpicia' (Oxford 2002), opens this group. She points to the fact that it was Gruppe who made the scholarly world aware that there lived an Augustan poetess who composed a cycle of six short love poems; thus he enriched remarkably the history of Latin literature as well as the thesaurus of female poetry. What enabled him to do this, was his ability not only 'to understand the Latin of the poems, but also their poetic quality' (p. 132). In fact Gruppe stresses that one has not only 'Lateinisch zu verstehen, man mußte auch Poetisch verstehen' (pp. 149, 4).

Ludwig Bernays himself explains 'Umstrittene Gedichte des Corpus Tibullianum' (pp. 147-68). This refers to Tib. 3.9, the Sulpicia elegies, and the Panegyricus Messallae. He points to the achievements of his great-grandfather in this field and adds his own clarifications. Next follows Stefan Stirnemann's refreshing study 'Die Kunst der Obersetzer -- Erinnerung an Gruppes "Deutsche Obersetzerkunst"' (pp. 169-74), a volume published in Hannover in 1866, advocating 'Freie Reproduktion'.

The two Italian papers, by Sotera Fornaro ('Mito e Poesia: l'Ariadne' di Gruppe nel suo tempo', pp. 175- 94) and by Andrea Ercolani ('Ober die Theogonie des Hesiod, ihr Verderbnis und ihre ursprüngliche Gestalt: Un libro quasi dimenticato di Gruppe', pp. 195-200) both discuss monographs, dating to 1834 and 1841 respectively, in which Gruppe painted a picture of the developments in early Greek poetry.

While the 'Dichter' Gruppe is dismissed here in a few annotations only (for example, pp. 27, 196f.), the 'Philosoph' and the 'Philologe' of the subtitle are well illuminated in this small volume. Obviously, there is room for more analytical discussion and need for more historical research on this multifaceted talent of two centuries ago. Instead of waiting for the third centenary in 2104, a full bibliography of Gruppe's publications (and unpublished material: see pp. 205, 21) might now be composed and published. On such a basis a full and detailed evaluation of his achievements should be presented. It might reveal interesting, even astonishing facts and facets of Geistesgeschichte.


[[1]] The first may be found in Iwan Müller (ed.), Handbuch der Klassischen Altertumswissenschaft 5.1-2 (Munich 1906), the second in W. H. Roscher, Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie: Supplementum 4 (Leipzig 1921).

[[2]] Fritz Mauthner, 'Otto Friedrich Gruppe' in Maximilian Harden (ed.), Die Zukunft XXII (Berlin 1913) 314-25.

[[3]] Hans D. Sluga, Gottlob Frege (London 1980).

[[4]] Otto Friedrich Gruppe, Gegenwart und Zukunft der Philosophie in Deutschland (Berlin 1855, reprinted 1996).