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uni'wissen 02(4)-2011_ENG

Prof. Dr. Bernhard ­Zimmermann studied classical philology at the University of ­Constance, where he also completed his PhD and his habilitation thesis. Follow- ing stations in Constance, Zurich, and Düsseldorf, he was appointed as professor for classical philology at the University of Freiburg in 1997. He has also been a member of the board of trustees of the foundation “Humanismus heute” since 2000. In February 2011 he was elected as chairman of the German Classical Philologists’ Association. His scholarship on topics including Greek tragedy, the comedies of Aristo- phanes, Epicure, Sopho- cles’ Oedipus Rex, and Greek comedy has been translated into many differ- ent languages. He is cur- rently supervising the pub- lication of a new handbook on the history of Greek lit- erature, the first volume of which appeared in 2011. does not believe that any more lost manuscripts will be found in Egypt, since the earth there has become damp due to the construction of the As- wan Dam. If ancient papyri were buried there, they are now destroyed. Students Practice on the Fragments The archaeological finds and the work the re- search group has completed so far have already produced initial findings. “Aristophanes and Menander used to be the only two known au- thors, but now we know the names of 258 Greek comic poets, who wrote a total of more than 1000 plays altogether,” says Zimmermann. This is changing our picture of the genre completely: “In literary histories, Aristophanes is generally re- garded as being the comic poet who was alone responsible for shaping the genre with his politi- cal comedies. In our first two commentaries, which have already been published, we demon- strate that the situation was much more complex: There were forms of non-political comedy as ear- ly as 400 BC, such as burlesques, sketches, and women’s and slave comedies.” Since working on fragments is methodical and linguistically diverse work, it makes a good prac- tical exercise for young philologists just cutting their teeth in the field. Students are thus being integrated into the research project. They are given short texts of up to 20 lines each to prac- tice on and learn the foundations of philological work and literary study: In translating the come- dies they hone their skills in the Greek language, metrics and measure, and in reconstructing and classifying the fragments they learn the societal background of the texts. In addition, they have to compare the handwritten sources with one an- other in order to reconstruct the original text as faithfully as possible. The students and scholars in Freiburg are also profiting from the excellent reputation the re- search project enjoys at English and American universities. In September 2011, Prof. Dr. Doug- las Olson, recipient of the Humboldt Research Prize from the University of Minnesota, USA, ar- rived at the University of Freiburg, where he will stay for a year. He was attracted to Freiburg by Zimmermann’s project. The papyrologist Prof. Dr. Dirk Obbink from Oxford, England, will also come to Freiburg to teach students how to work with papyri. For July 2012, Zimmermann and his team are planning a compact course in which students will work with parts of the puzzle of comedy fragments with researchers from around the world. Project director Zimmermann is optimistic about what the coming 15 years will bring to light, but he is not blind to the fact that such a long- term project demands great perseverance on the part of the researcher: “After eight or nine years there might not be any more new discoveries, and our work will consist primarily in taking stock of all of the works. But not everything that has been found to date has been edited yet – so there might very well still be some surprises in store for us.” Further Reading The researchers participating in the project “Commentary of Fragments of Greek Comedy” report regularly on their work and their latest findings in their weblog at http://www.surpris- griechische-komoedien/. Zimmermann, B. (Ed.) (2011): Handbuch der griechischen Literatur. Band 1: Die Literatur der archaischen und klassischen Zeit. München 2011 (on Greek comedy: p. 664–800). Zimmermann, B. (2006²): Die griechische ­Komödie. Frankfurt/M. 19uni'wissen 04