Scholarly Understanding and National Traits. A Letter from Theodor Mommsen to Sir William Robertson Nicoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper presents a commented edition of a preivously unpublished letter from Theodor Mommsen to Sir WIlliams Robertson Nicoll, ministry and editor of The Expositor and The British Weekly. The letter clarifies the circumstances in which the article published by Mommsen on The Expositor in July 1893 came to be: Nicoll had asked Mommsen to write a review of a book, "The Church in the Roman Empire before AD 170" (1892), written by a British archaeologist and classical scholar, William Mitchell Ramsey. Mommsen declined the invitation and supported his negative response in the letter: had he reviewed the book, he would have been forced to offend Ramsay, with whom he was "in close relation and greatly debtor for epigraphical contribution". The controversy was focused on the "national impersonalities" that Ramsay had introduced in the "literary discussion". A reissue of the 1893 Mommsen article concludes the paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-222
Number of pages13
JournalQuaderni di Storia
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Theodor Mommsen
  • W. Robertson Nicoll
  • W.M. Ramsay
  • The Expositor
  • Unpublished Letter
  • Otto Pfeiderer

Cite this