Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Karl Otfried Müller

MÜLLER, Karl Otfried (1797–1840), an eminent writer on ancient Greece, was born at Brieg in Silesia on 28th August 1797. His father was a chaplain in the Prussian army. Müller was educated partly in Breslau, partly in Berlin, where his enthusiasm in the study of Greek literature, art, and history was fostered by the influence of Boeckh. In 1817, after the publication of his first work, Ægineticorum Liber, he received an appointment at the Magdaleneum in Breslau; and in 1819 he was made a professor of the university of Göttingen, his subject being the archæology of art. His aim was to form a vivid conception of Greek life as a whole; and for this object he carried on a series of profound researches, setting forth the results in his lectures, which produced a great impression on his students, and in numerous works, which marked an epoch in the development of Hellenic studies. Müller's position at Göttingen being rendered unpleasant by the political troubles which followed the accession of Ernest Augustus to the throne of Hanover in 1837, he applied for permission to travel; and in 1839 he left Germany. In April of the following year he reached Greece, having spent the winter in Italy. He carefully investigated the remains of ancient Athens, visited many places of interest in the Peloponnesus, and finally went to Delphi, where he began with his usual zeal to conduct excavations. While engaged in this work he was attacked by intermittent fever, of which he died at Athens on 1st August 1840.

Muller combined with astonishing industry a penetrating critical judgment and an almost unrivalled power of appreciating Greek modes of thought and feeling. Among his historical works the foremost place belongs to his Geschichte hellenischen Stämme und Staaten, which includes Orchomenos und die Minyer (1820), and Die Dorier (1824). He wrote also Über die Wohnsitze, Abstammung, und ältere Geschichte des macedonischen Volks (1825); and by his maps he introduced a new standard of accuracy in the treatment of the geography of ancient Greece. In 1828 he published Die Etrusker. His Prolegomenen zu einer wissenschaftlichen Mythologie (1825) prepared the way for the scientific investigation of myths; and the study of ancient art he promoted by his Handbuch der Archäologie der Kunst (1830), and by Denkmäler der alten Kunst (1832), which he wrote in association with Osterley. In 1840 appeared in England his History of the Literature of Ancient Greece, and the original German work from which it had been translated — Geschichte der griechischen Literatur bis auf das Zeitalter Alexander's — was issued in Germany by the author's brother in 1841. Amid the labours to which Müller especially devoted himself he found time to write an admirable translation of the Eumenides of Æschylus (1833), to prepare new editions of Varro (1833) and Festus (1839), and to contribute many articles to the Commentationes societatis regiæ scientiarum Gottingensis, the Göttinger gelehrten Anzeigen, and other periodicals. In 1841 the facts of his life were recorded by Lücke in Erinnerungen an Otfried Müller.