December 19th, 2007
Although other scholars had concerned themselves with Ethiopia before him - for instance, Johannes Potken of Cologn, who in 1513 had the first Ethiopian psalter printed - Hiob Ludolf can with justice be called the father of Ethiopian Studies in Europe. In his monumental work he paved the way for a better and more just understanding of Ethiopia, its culture and its history. Although he himself was never in Ethiopia, he had the good fortune to make direct contact with Ethiopian scholars in Rome. Of tremendous benefit for his research was his collaboration and friendship with Abba Gorgoryos, who visited him in Germany.
Hiob Ludol (1624 - 1704)
Hiob Ludolf was not only a brilliant linguist (he mastered more than 25 languages) and historian: he was also a truly all-round scholar and politician. He entered into correspondence with great figures of his time: he exchanged treatises with the philosopher Leibniz and tried to win over Louis XIV, King of France, for the project of Suez Canal. In Frankfurt, where he spent the last years of his life, he was not only well known as a distinguished scholar, but also served as the diplomatic representative of German princess.
His works remain important sources to this day, notably the Historia Aethiopica (written in Latin and soon afterwards translated into several other European languages) and the inexhaustible Commentarius ad suam Historiam Aethiopicam. If, in addition, we bear in mind his Lexicon Aethiopico-Latinum, Grammatica Aethiopica, Grammatica Linguae Amharicae and Lexicon Amharico-Latinum, then his epitaph does not sound an exaggeration: “Vir ingenio maximus, fama immortalis” - “A man of genious and of immortal fame”.
Booklet: “Three Hundred Years of Ethiopian-German Academic Collaboration.”
Author: Eike Haberland
1986. 39 pages, EUR 5,—. ISBN 3-515-04766-2
Johann Wolfgang Goethe University