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Philipp Melanchthon

Philipp Melanchthon

*  1497 Bretten
† 1560 Wittenberg

Philipp Melanchthon (real name Philipp Schwartzerdt), a renowned early Modern Age scholar, was born in Bretten in 1497. After receiving a good school education, Melanchthon began to study at Heidelberg University in 1509 while only twelve years old. He completed this stage of his studies with a baccalaureus artium in 1511. In 1512 Melanchthon transferred to Tübingen University, where he studied astronomy, music, arithmetic and geometry as well as Greek, Hebrew and Latin, new theories of teaching and Rudolf Agricola's writings on logic and dialectics. In 1514 Melanchthon was awarded his Magister Artium. While still a student, Melanchthon published his first writings and in 1518 a Greek grammar.
Melanchthon had close professional and intellectual ties to the Reformer Martin Luther. The publication of Luther's theses (1517) had a decisive effect on Melanchthon. In 1518 he went to Wittenberg and took over the new chair of Greek that had been instituted at the university. Through Luther's influence, he was awarded a baccalaureus biblicus in 1519, an academic degree that enabled him to lecture in the theological faculty as well. Melanchthon, however, did not feel a vocation for theology, preferring philosophy.
The years between 1529 and 1532 saw Melanchthon write several treatises on Aristotele and Cicero. From 1538 Melanchthon's work on ethics was published and in 1550 he subjected it to extensive revision. In 1540 the first part of "de anima" was published; the final version appeared in 1553. In 1549 Melanchthon wrote a treatise on physics in which he discussed the Copernican model of the universe. From 1555 Melanchthon lectured on world history but the accompanying writings were published under the pseudonym Johann Carion. Melanchthon was for a while chancellor of Wittenberg University as well as dean of the philosophical faculty. Philipp Melanchthon died in Wittenberg in April 1560.