Johann Gustav Droysen

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Droysen, Johann Gustav


Born July 6, 1808, in Treptow (now Trebiatów, Poland); died June 19, 1884, in Berlin. German historian.

Droysen was made a professor at the University of Kiel in 1840, at the University of Jena in 1851, and at the University of Berlin in 1859. An active participant in the revolution of 1848-49 in Germany as a moderate liberal politician, he was a member of the constitutional commission of the Federal Diet and a deputy to the Frankfurt Parliament. He advocated unification of Germany “from above” under the leadership of Prussia and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.

Droysen was a prominent representative of the Smaller Germany (kleindeutsch) school of historical writing and produced a number of works on Prussian history. His political convictions were reflected in his works on ancient history of the Hellenistic period, for he glorified the Macedonian monarchy, regarding it as the highest form of national unification of the Greeks, and he idealized Alexander the Great and his achievements.

Droysen introduced the term “Hellenism” into scholarly circles and made a detailed study of the Hellenistic period for the first time in historical science, bringing his account down to 222 B.C. (The History of Hellenism; Russian translation, vols. 1-3, 1890-93). Droysen understood Hellenism to mean “the spread of the Greek system of government and education” among the peoples of the East, but he ignored the socioeconomic essence of Hellenism.


Geschichte Alexanders des Grossen. Hamburg, 1833.
Geschichte des Hellenismus, vols. 1-2. Hamburg, 1836-43.
Vorlesungen über das Zeitalter der Freihheitskriege, 2nd ed., parts 1-2. Gotha, 1886.
Geschichte der preussischen Politik, vols. 1-5. Leipzig, 1859-86.
Grundriss der Historik. Halle, 1925.


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