Eduard Meyer

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Meyer, Eduard


Born Jan. 25, 1855, in Hamburg; died Aug. 31, 1930, in Berlin. German historian.

Meyer was a professor of ancient history in Leipzig (from 1884), Breslau (Wroclaw; from 1885), Halle (from 1889), and Berlin (1902–23). Possessing a thorough knowledge of complex source materials (archaeological, epigraphic, literary, numismatic), he wrote important works on the history of the ancient East, Greece, and Rome. In his principal work, Geschichte des Altertums (History of Antiquity; vols. 1–5, 1884–1902; 3rd ed., 1910–39), he recounted the history of the world from the rise of the ancient eastern civilizations to 355 B.C., the time of the cessation of Greek rule in Sicily.

Meyer believed that the form of a state determines the fate of its people, and therefore his narrative concentrated on political events and the history of state systems, although considerable attention was also given to economic and social history. He devoted particular attention to migrations of peoples as an important factor of historical development: for example, to the conquest of Egypt by the Hyksos and of Babylon by the Kassites and to the tribal migrations of the 12th century B.C. Meyer expounded the entire history of antiquity from the viewpoint of the theory of modernism and the cyclical theory of history. He saw Homeric Greece as the “Greek Middle Ages,” classical and Hellenistic Greece as the period of capitalism, and the history of Rome as the pinnacle of capitalist development in antiquity. Proceeding from the cyclical theory of history, he rejected the notion of the progressive course of historical development, asserting that capitalism is the highest stage of social development and its decline leads to the demise of a culture.


Geschichte von Troas. Leipzig, 1877.
Geschichte des Königreichs Pantos. Leipzig, 1879.
Geschichte des alien Aegyptens. Berlin, 1887.
Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Gracchen. Halle, 1894.
Forschungen zur alien Geschichte, vols. 1–2. Halle, 1892–99.
Caesars Monarchic und das Principal des Pompejus, 3rd ed. Stuttgart, 1922.
Ursprung und Anjange des Chrislentums, vols. 1–3. Stuttgart, 1921–23.
In Russian translation:
Teoreticheskie i metodologicheskie wprosy istorii. Moscow, 1904.


Protasova, S. I. “Istoriia drevnego mira v postroenii Ed. Meiera.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1938, no. 3.
Wilcken, U., and W. Jaeger. E. Meyer zum Gedachtnis. Stuttgart, 1931.
Marohl, H. E. Meyer. Bibliographic. [Berlin] 1941.


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