Otto Kern (February 14, 1863 in Schulpforte (now part of Bad Kösen) – January 31, 1942 in Halle an der Saale) was a German philologist, archaeologist and epigraphist. He specialized in the field of ancient Greek religion, being known for his investigations of Greek mystery cults and Orphism.
He studied classical philology and archaeology at the Universities of Berlin and Göttingen and attained his doctorate in 1888. As a student, his instructors included Ernst Curtius, Hermann Diels and Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff. After graduation, he worked in Berlin as an assistant to Carl Robert. From 1890 to 1893, he traveled to Italy, Greece and Asia Minor, where he took part in excavations at Magnesia on the Maeander as an assistant to Carl Humann.
In 1894 he qualified as a lecturer at Berlin, subsequently becoming an associate professor at the University of Rostock (1897). In 1900 he attained a full professorship, and in 1907 relocated to the University of Halle-Wittenberg, where in 1915/1916 he served as university rector.
Among his better written efforts was a three part work on the religious history of ancient Greece, "Die Religion der Griechen" (1926–38):
- Vol. 1. Von den Anfängen bis Hesiod – Prior to Hesiod.
- Vol. 2. Die Hochblüte bis zum Ausgange des fünften Jahrhunderts – The Golden Age up until the start of the 5th century BC.
- Vol. 3. Von Platon bis Kaiser Julian – From Plato up to the Emperor Julian.
Other significant works by Kern include:
- Die Gründungsgeschichte von Magnesia am Maiandros, 1894 – The founding history of Magnesia on the Maeander.
- Beiträge zur Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie und Religion (with Paul Wendland), 1895 – Contributions to the history of Greek philosophy and religion.
- Ueber die Anfänge der hellenischen Religion, 1902 – On the beginnings of Hellenic religion.
- Eleusinische Beiträge, 1909 – Eleusinian contributions.
- Nord-griechische Skizzen, 1912 – Sketches of northern Greece.
- "Inscriptiones Graecae", 1913.
- Orpheus. Eine religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung, 1920 – Orpheus; a religious-historical study.
- "Orphicorum fragmenta", 1922.
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