Dessau, Hermann

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DESSAU, HERMANN (1856–1931), German historian and philologist. The son of the director of a Jewish school, Dessau studied under Theodor *Mommsen and became his collaborator at the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. In 1884 he was appointed lecturer and in 1896 professor of ancient history at the University of Berlin; from 1900 he worked as the Latin epigraphist of the Prussian Academy. Dessau's principal studies were related to Latin inscriptions, the political and administrative problems of the Roman Empire, and Latin and patristic literature. He edited and published the basic book in the field of Latin inscriptions, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (5 vols. in 3, 1892–1916); his work on the Roman Empire, Geschichte der roemischen Kaiserzeit, remained incomplete, only the first two volumes being published (1924–30). Dessau was deeply attached to the traditional roots of Judaism. In 1919 he joined the council of the research department of the Akademie fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin. The last chapter of his book on the Roman Empire, entitled "Judaea und die Juden," was directed against the chapter bearing the same title in Mommsen's history of the Roman Empire. His mastery both of Roman history and of talmudic sources enabled him to attempt a reevaluation of the period of the Second Temple in the light of its Jewish character as well as in the context of general history.


Neue Deutsche Biographie, 3 (1957), s.v.add. bibliography: Enciclopedia Judaica Castellana, 3 (1948), 473.