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MARKUS, LUDWIG:

German Orientalist; born in Dessau Oct. 31, 1798; died in Paris July 15, 1843. He attended the Franzschule and the ducal gymnasium in Dessau; he was sent to the latter by the hereditary Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, his father having lost his means. He then studied medicine at Berlin University (1818-21), but when in the last year of his course he abandoned medicine for philosophy, and studied astronomy under Encke at the Berlin Observatory so ardently that his mind was for a time affected. When scarcely recovered he became a member of the Society for Jewish Culture and Science in Berlin. In its "Zeitschrift für die Wissenschaft des Judenthums" for 1822 (pp. 401-418) appeared his first publication, the beginning of a work on the natural history of Palestine, which was still unfinished when the periodical discontinued publication. He then began his life labor—a work on the foreign colonies in Abyssinia and Senaar from the seventh century B.C. to the fourth century C.E. In 1825 Markus went to Paris, where Cuvier appreciated his attainments; through Cuvier's influence Markus was engaged to edit part of the notes to Panckoucke's Latin-French edition of Pliny (1829). He steadily proceeded with his work on Abyssinia, though he was without means to publish it; but two extracts from it appeared in the "Journal Asiatique" for 1829. In 1830 Cuvier secured for him an appointment as teacher of German in the royal college at Dijon, where he wrote the elementary works needed by the pupils.

The loss of his devoted mother in 1835 having left Markus almost alone in the world (he already had lost nearly all his brothers and sisters), he fell into a state of melancholy which made teaching in Dijon distasteful to him. His work on the Vandals having been very well received, he resigned his position in Dijon and (1838) returned to Paris. It was one day about this time that Markus met Heine and a companion walking on the boulevard. Heine's companion, struck by Markus' somewhat ludicrous appearance, inquired, "Who is that man?" Heine, who had known the Orientalist at the university, replied, "That is the King of Abyssinia." This title, so thoughtlessly conferred, thereafter clung to him. Markus died in Dr. Pinel's asylum for the insane. Baroness de Rothschild bore the funeral expenses, and Heine wrote an obituary. Markus had a remarkable memory and was called the "walking library." He was very modest, and, in spite of his poverty, charitable to the extent of his means.

He wrote: "Storia dei Vandali" (1836); "Géographie Ancienne des Etats Barbaresques" (1842; translation of a part of K. Mannert's "Geographieder Griechen und Römer," with extensive notes and additions); a comparative chronology of the principal nations of antiquity; and a prosody of the Greek and Latin languages.

Bibliography:
  • Arch. Isr. 1843, pp. 541-549 (obituary by S. Munk; translated into German by S. Heilberg, Breslau, 1847);
  • Servi, Israeliti d'Europa, pp. 197-199;
  • Heine, Gesammelte Werke, xiv. 179-202, Hamburg, 1876;
  • Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1843, Nos. 18 and 34.
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