Kurt Latte

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Kurt Latte (9 March 1891, Königsberg – 8 June 1964, Tutzing) was a German philologist and classical scholar known for his work on ancient Roman religion.


His major work is Römische Religionsgeschichte (Munich, 1960), which was intended to replace the work of Georg Wissowa that by then was nearly 60 years old. Although widely referenced, Latte's work has not escaped criticism. Latte attempted to be systematic and historical at the same time, melding Wissowa's Varro-based systematic description with the historical approach of Franz Altheim; the resulting structure can seem haphazard.[1] In the opinion of Stefan Weinstock, Latte's understanding of linguistics was superior to that of Wissowa.[2]

Latte rejected animism as having explanatory value for the study of Roman religion, but made some use of the concept of sympathetic magic, an approach criticized as inconsistent.[3] His discussion of Roman priesthoods is considered "vital."[4]

Latte viewed Roman religious traditions as in decline in the late Republic, and subject to political abuse.[5] He felt, however, that the importance of Imperial cult had been exaggerated, and that "emperor worship" was a minor and perhaps not really a religious phenomenon at all. His is a counterweight to the predominant scholarly view that Imperial cult became increasingly central to Roman religion.[6]

Latte's monumental edition of Hesychius of Alexandria was left unfinished at the time of his death (vol. 1 published in 1953, vol. 2 posthumously in 1966); the work was completed by Peter Allan Hansen and Ian C. Cunningham (vols. 3-4, 2005-2009).

Further reading[edit]

  • Cornelia Wegeler, "… wir sagen der internationalen Gelehrtenrepublik" Altertumswissenschaft und Nationalsozialismus Das Göttinger Institut für Altertumskunde 1921–1962 (Vienna/Cologne/Weimar, 1996), containing "honest, thorough descriptions of the careers"[7] of several German classical scholars of the period, including Eduard Fraenkel, Hermann Fränkel, and Latte.


  1. ^ Michael Lipka, Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach (Brill, 2009), p. 3.
  2. ^ As noted by C. Robert Phillips III, "Approaching Roman Religion: The Case for Wissenschaftsgeschichte," in A Companion to Roman Religion (Blackwell, 2007), p. 25. Weinstock's essay review of Latte's book appeared in the Journal of Roman Studies 51 (1961) 206–215.
  3. ^ Phillips, "Approaching Roman Religion," pp. 24–25.
  4. ^ Christopher Smith, "The Religion of Archaic Rome," in A Companion to Roman Religion, p. 42.
  5. ^ Susanne William Rasmussen, Public Portents in Republican Rome («L'Erma» di Bretschneider, 2003), p. 32.
  6. ^ As summarized by Allen Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order: Concepts and Images of Authority in Paganism and Early Christianity before the Age of Cyprian (Brill, 1999), pp. xix–xx.
  7. ^ William M. Calder III and R. Scott Smith, A Supplementary Bibliography to the History of Classical Scholarship Chiefly in the XIXth and XXth Centuries (Edizioni Dedalo, 2000), p. 58.

External links[edit]