Lost Mommsen reappears at Rutgers

Hold on to your hat. Rutgers Classics PhD ’07 Michael Johnson has unearthed in the Special Collections and University Archives of RU a discovery of potentially great interest to the classical world. It has to do with the papers that Frank Austin Scott, tenth president of Rutgers (1891-1906), donated to the university. These included several folders filled with papers pertaining to his studies at Friedrich-Wilhelm-Universität in Berlin. In 1871-1872 he had taken courses at that institution with some of the most eminent scholars of the ancient world, then working at the peak of their respective careers.

Most importantly, as Johnson seems to have been the first to discover, Scott took care to preserve the notes from three series of lectures given by the greatest modern historian of ancient Rome, Theodor Mommsen. These are entitled “Roman Antiquities”,”The Annals of Livy”, and “The History of Rome under Diocletian and his Successors”.

The Austin Scott papers on Mommsen—500 standard “blue-book” pages, elegantly written in clear and simple German—come from small upper-level seminars of approximately 16-24 students. The notes on the “Roman Antiquities” lectures are of special interest, because of their relationship to Mommsen’s most useful and most enduring work, Römisches Staatsrecht, only one volume of which had been published at that time, and that just recently (the first edition of volume one was issued in 1871).

Michael Johnson is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and teaches at Davidson College. He presented some of his preliminary findings on the Scott papers at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association, and is currently engaged in working up the Mommsen lectures for publication. Austin Scott study card, with signaturesMike Johnson at the Arch of Constantine, May 2008

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One response to “Lost Mommsen reappears at Rutgers

  1. Pingback: Walter Hamilton Seward (1896-2008), RC’17, was oldest graduate of university and its Classical Course «

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