Eduard Fraenkel

David Mortier Eduard Fraenkel (17 March 1888, Berlin – 5 February 1970, Oxford) was a German-English philologist.

Background and early life

Eduard Fraenkel was born to Jewish parents in Berlin. His father was a wine dealer, and his mother the daughter of an important publishing family. At the age of ten, Fraenkel suffered from an attack of osteomyelitis in his right arm that deformed his right hand. From 1897 to 1906 he attended the Askanisches Gymnasium in Berlin, where he was educated in Greek and Latin. At University, he began to study law, but soon turned his attention to Classics at Berlin University under the great philologist Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff. After two years, he moved from Berlin to Göttingen where he stayed until 1912, studying under Friedrich Leo (1851-1914).

Later life

Losing his post under the antisemitic laws passed in 1933, Fraenkel emigrated to Britain and in 1934 took up the Chair in Latin at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He held this post throughout the war until he was forced to retire under the age limit in 1951. Nonetheless, Corpus Christi and the Oxford University Literae Humaniores Board secured funding for Fraenkel to continue his popular seminars. Fraenkel committed suicide on February 5, 1970, aged 81, on the same day his wife died of natural causes.


Eduard Fraenkel was one of the most prominent and respected classical philologists of the 20th century, publishing monumental studies of both Greek and Latin poets. Most well known are his book-length study of the Roman comic poet Plautus, Plautinisches im Plautus, which was later expanded and translated into Italian as Elementi Plautini in Plauto. An English version, entitled Plautine Elements in Plautus, was published in 2007 on the basis of the German and Italian versions. Also notable are his magisterial three volume text, commentary, and translation of the Agamemnon of Aeschylus, which remains one of the standard works of scholarship on that play, and a valuable study of the poetry of Horace.

Writings (select)


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