Scholia Reviews ns 18 (2009) 9.
Michael Hillgruber (ed.), Otto Kern: Meine Lehrer. Erinnerungen. Hildesheim: Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2008. Pp. ix + 281, incl. 31 black-and-white illustrations. ISBN 978-3-615-00353-6. Euro58.00.
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban
The name of 'Kern' is well represented within the history of Classical Studies. Franz Kern (1830-1894), while teaching classics as Gymnasiallehrer in prominent positions, found the time to do fruitful research. He published on presocratic philosophy, on tragedy, and also a collection of his widely admired Schulreden. His Kleine Schriften fill two volumes, edited by his son in 1895/98. The list of his publications covers nine pages. His eldest son Otto Kern (1863-1942) spent the second half of his life (since 1907) as professor at Halle's univerity. His list of publications (pp. 185-208) comprises no less than 501 items. It is complemented by a list of fifty- one dissertations worked out under his guidance over thirty-one years. In addition, between 1893 until 1935, Kern contributed hundreds of articles to Pauly- Wissowa's Real-Encylopaedie, from 'Agamede' (RE 1.1) to 'Mystipoloi' (RE 16.2). Among them, there is 'Baubo', 'Daktyloi', 'Dodona', 'Demeter', 'Dionysos', 'Eleusis', and 'Eurydike'. Moreover, 'Kabeiros' and 'Mysterien' appeared also as separatum.
His main work, however, are his 3 volumes Die Religion der Griechen (Volume 1 , 2 , 3 [1938, reprinted in 1963]), analysing the development from the beginnings with Hesiod (Vol. 1), the climax in the fifth century (Vol. 2), up to Plato and the later stages until the emperor Julian (Vol. 3) -- a thousand pages full of intense observations, profound knowledge and great visions.
What comes to light now, is a manuscript (pp. 29-158), composed by Kern in the late thirties, but published only now, more than sixty years later. Entitled Meine Lehrer, it is the memoirs of an old scholar, who has met and was influenced by all those heroes of the nineteenth century, Carl Robert and Carl Humann (who brought to light Pergamon), Hermann Diels, Ernst Curtius and Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff. Small wonder that the lion's share of this overview goes to Franz Kern the father.
Michael Hillgruber, the editor and his team of six co- workers, are to be congratulated. They have given the public a well rounded out edition, including a synopsis of Kern's life (pp. 3-6), several text documents of interest (pp. 151-84) and a lot of photographs. In addition, there are helpful annotations at the bottom of almost every page, so that nobody is in danger of getting lost in the slightly labyrinthic presentation of Kern's contemporaries and their work. This is Gelehrtengeschichte in the best sense of the word. A world is conjured up which has shaped last century's Gelehrtenrepublik and has laid the foundations for the continuation of their work in our time.