He studied classical philology under August Reifferscheid at the University of Breslau, then furthered his studies in Munich under Heinrich Brunn, a leading authority on Roman antiquities. In 1890 he became a full professor at the University of Marburg, relocating to Halle in 1896 as a successor to Heinrich Keil.
He is remembered today for re-edition of "Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft", an encyclopedia of classical studies initially started by August Friedrich Pauly (1796–1845) in 1837. Around 1890, Wissowa began the new edition, an ambitious project that he anticipated would take ten years to finish. However, it wouldn't be until the 1970s that the last of its 83 volumes was published.
He was the author of a significant work on ancient Roman religion, titled "Religion und Kultus der Römer" (1902), a book in which he explored the development of Roman religion, and in the process, provided a comprehensive description of its deities and religious practices. Wissowa also published a revision of Ludwig Friedländer's moral history of Rome called "Darstellungen aus der Sittengeschichte Roms", worked on Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher's encyclopedia of Greek and Roman mythology, "Ausführlichem Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie" and edited the second edition of Joachim Marquardt's "Römische Staatsverwaltung", vol. iii. (1885).
- Bibliotek, University of Halle biographical information
- ADB:Pauly August Friedrich von @ Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie
- de.Wikisource August Friedrich Pauly Pauly died in 1845, prior to completion of the encyclopedia's first edition. After his death, the first edition was continued by Christian Walz and Wilhelm Siegmund Teuffel (1st edition Metzler, Stuttgart 1837-1852; 6 volumes).
- Deutsche Wikisource Bibliography of Georg Wissowa.