Scholarly dedication

// Published 15 February, 2012 by Andrew Lamb

Two stories of scholarly dedication from Peter Watson’s The German Genius. The first is about Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the classical scholar, art historian and archaeologist:

After Berlin, Winckelmann transferred to the universities of Halle and Jena, where he studied medicine, philosophy and mathematics, supporting himself as a tutor. He would read Greek til midnight, sleep in an old coat in an armchair until four in the morning, when he would resume reading. In the summer months he slept on a bench with a block of wood tied to his foot which fell down at the slightest movement and wakened him.

The second is about Friedrich August Wolf, the philologist:

Born in 1759, the son of a schoolteacher, Wolf could read some Greek at the age of 6, and rather more Latin and French. At Göttingen… he slept for just two nights a week for six months, so as to immerse himself in his beloved classical authors as quickly as possible, keeping himself awake by sitting with his feet in a bowl of cold water. He would bind up one eye with a bandage to rest it, while he used the other.

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