By: Isidore Singer
Austrian philologist; born at Brünn March 29, 1832. His great-grandfather, Benedictus Levi Gomperz, was the financial agent of the duchy of Cleve, whose influence with the Dutch government was exemplified by his successful intercession (1745) in behalf of the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia when they were to be expelled from these countries (see
Toward the close of the eighteenth century Benedictus' son, Theodor Gomperz, went to Brünn, Moravia, where he held a modest position in the internal revenue service of the Austrian government under Joseph II. Soon afterward, however, he retired from public life and devoted himself to business, in which he acquired a moderate fortune. The business was continued by his sons, the father and uncle of Theodor Gomperz, the subject of this biography, both of whom attained to positions of trust and respect in the community.
Gomperz entered the University of Vienna in 1849, and studied classical philology under Hermann Bonitz and philosophy under Robert Zimmermann. He especially applied himself to the study of the works of Spinoza and James and John Stuart Mill; the works of the last-named he subsequently translated into German (Leipsic, 1869-80).
Gomperz became privat-docent in 1867, assistant professor in 1869, and professor of classical philology in 1873. He is honorary Ph.D. of the University of Königsberg and "doctor litterarum" of the University of Dublin. He became corresponding member of the Vienna Academy of Sciences in 1868, and full member in 1882. He is also corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. In 1901 he was appointed by the emperor Francis Joseph member of the Austrian House of Lords.
Gomperz's principal writings are: "Philodemi de Ira Liber," 1864; "Demosthenes als Staatsmann," 1864; "Herculaneische Studien," 1865; "Beiträge zur Kritik und Erklärung Griechischer Schriftsteller," 1875-90; "Herodoteische Studien," 1883; "Ueber ein Bisher Unbekanntes Griechisches Schriftsystem aus der Mitte des 4. Vorchristlichen Jahrhunderts," 1884; "Platonische Aufsätze," 1887; "Ueber die Charaktere Theophrasts," 1888; "Die Schrift vom Staatswesen der Athener," 1891. He resigned his professorship a few years ago to devote his entire energy to his main work, "Griechische Denker," which began to appear in 1893 (3 vols.; vol. i. transl. into English by L. Magnus). Gomperz declares the object of his undertaking to be "to present a comprehensive picture of this department of knowledge" as a kind of prolegomena to an "exhaustive universal history of the mind of antiquity." Each volume is divided into three books.
- Meyers Konversations-Lexikon;
- Brockhaus, Konversations-Lexikon;
- La Grande Encyclopedic, s.v.;
- Th. Gomperz, Erinnerungen aus Meinem Leben, I., in Deutsche Revue (ed. R. Fleischer), June, 1903, pp. 305-310.