The Info List - Theodor Mommsen

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Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
(30 November 1817 – 1 November 1903) was a German classical scholar, historian, jurist, journalist, politician and archaeologist.[1] He was one of the greatest classicists of the 19th century. His work regarding Roman history
Roman history
is still of fundamental importance for contemporary research. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
in 1902 for being "the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A history of Rome", after having been nominated by 18 members of the Prussian Academy of Sciences.[2][3] He was also a prominent German politician, as a member of the Prussian and German parliaments. His works on Roman law
Roman law
and on the law of obligations had a significant impact on the German civil code.


1 Life 2 Scholarly works 3 Mommsen as editor and organiser

3.1 Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 3.2 Further editions and research projects

4 Mommsen as politician 5 Influence of Mommsen

5.1 Mark Twain

6 See also 7 Bibliography 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

Life[edit] Mommsen was born to German parents in Garding
in the Duchy of Schleswig
in 1817, then ruled by the king of Denmark, and grew up in Bad Oldesloe
Bad Oldesloe
in Holstein, where his father was a Lutheran minister. He studied mostly at home, though he attended the gymnasium Christianeum in Altona for four years. He studied Greek and Latin
and received his diploma in 1837. As he could not afford to study at Göttingen, he enrolled at the University of Kiel. Mommsen studied jurisprudence at Kiel from 1838 to 1843, finishing his studies with the degree of Doctor of Roman Law. During this time he was the roommate of Theodor Storm, who was later to become a renowned poet. Together with Mommsen's brother Tycho, the three friends even published a collection of poems (Liederbuch dreier Freunde). Thanks to a royal Danish grant, Mommsen was able to visit France and Italy to study preserved classical Roman inscriptions. During the revolution of 1848 he worked as a war correspondent in then-Danish Rendsburg, supporting the German annexation of Schleswig- Holstein
and a constitutional reform. Having been forced to leave the country by the Danes, he became a professor of law in the same year at the University of Leipzig. When Mommsen protested against the new constitution of Saxony in 1851, he had to resign. However, the next year he obtained a professorship in Roman law
Roman law
at the University of Zurich
University of Zurich
and then spent a couple of years in exile. In 1854 he became a professor of law at the University of Breslau
University of Breslau
where he met Jakob Bernays. Mommsen became a research professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences in 1857. He later helped to create and manage the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. In 1858 Mommsen was appointed a member of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin, and he also became professor of Roman History at the University of Berlin
University of Berlin
in 1861, where he held lectures up to 1887. Mommsen received high recognition for his academic achievements: foreign membership of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1859,[4] the medal Pour le Mérite
Pour le Mérite
in 1868, honorary citizenship of Rome, elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1870,[5] and the Nobel prize for literature
Nobel prize for literature
in 1902 for his main work Römische Geschichte (Roman History). (He is one of the very few non-fiction writers to receive the Nobel prize in literature.)[6]

Not all of Mommsen's library was completely destroyed by the fire; His version in Roman History v4 was damaged but preserved[7]

At 2 a.m. on 7 July 1880 a fire occurred in the upper floor workroom-library of Mommsen's house at Marchstraße 6 in Berlin.[8][9][10] After being burned while attempting to remove valuable papers, he was restrained from returning to the blazing house. Several old manuscripts were burnt to ashes, including Manuscript
0.4.36, which was on loan from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge.[11] There is information that the important Manuscript
of Jordanes
from Heidelberg University library was burnt.[12] Two other important manuscripts, from Brussels
and Halle, were also destroyed.[13] Mommsen was an indefatigable worker who rose at five to do research in his library. People often saw him reading whilst walking in the streets.[14] Mommsen had sixteen children with his wife Marie (daughter of the publisher and editor Karl Reimer of Leipzig). Their oldest daughter Maria married Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, the great Classics scholar. Their grandson Theodor Ernst Mommsen (1905-1958) became a professor of medieval history in the United States. Two of the great-grandsons, Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen
and Wolfgang Mommsen, were prominent German historians. Scholarly works[edit]

Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
in 1863

Mommsen published over 1,500 works, and effectively established a new framework for the systematic study of Roman history. He pioneered epigraphy, the study of inscriptions in material artifacts. Although the unfinished History of Rome, written early in his career, has long been widely considered as his main work, the work most relevant today is perhaps the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, a collection of Roman inscriptions he contributed to the Berlin Academy.[15]

Mommsen's History of Rome, his most famous work, appeared as three volumes in 1854, 1855, and 1856; it expounded Roman history
Roman history
up to the end of the Roman republic
Roman republic
and the rule of Julius Caesar. Since Mommsen admired Caesar, he felt unable to describe the death of his hero. He closely compared the political thought and terminology of the ancient Republic, especially during its last century, with the situation of his own time, e.g., the nation-state, democracy and incipient imperialism. It is one of the great classics of historical works. Mommsen never wrote a promised next volume to recount subsequent events during the imperial period, i.e., a volume 4, although demand was high for a continuation.[16] Immediately very popular and acknowledged internationally by classical scholars, the work also quickly received criticism.[17] The Provinces of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
from Caesar to Diocletian (1885), published as volume 5 of his History of Rome, is a description of all Roman regions during the early imperial period. Roman Chronology to the Time of Caesar (1858) written with his brother August Mommsen. Roman Constitutional Law
(1871–1888). This systematic treatment of Roman constitutional law in three volumes has been of importance for research on ancient history.

Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
in 1881

Roman Criminal Law
(1899) Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, lead editor and editor (1861, et seq.) Digesta (of Justinian), editor (1866–1870, two volumes) Iordanis Romana et Getica
(1882) was Mommsen's critical edition of Jordanes' The Origin and Deeds of the Goths and has subsequently come to be generally known simply as Getica. Codex Theodosianus, editor (1905, posthumous) Monumentum Ancyranum More than 1,500 further studies and treatises on single issues.

A bibliography of over 1,000 of his works is given by Zangemeister in Mommsen als Schriftsteller (1887; continued by Jacobs, 1905). Mommsen as editor and organiser[edit] While he was secretary of the Historical-Philological Class at the Berlin Academy (1874–1895), Mommsen organised countless scientific projects, mostly editions of original sources. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum[edit] At the beginning of his career, when he published the inscriptions of the Neapolitan Kingdom (1852), Mommsen already had in mind a collection of all known ancient Latin
inscriptions. He received additional impetus and training from Bartolomeo Borghesi
Bartolomeo Borghesi
of San Marino. The complete Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
would consist of sixteen volumes. Fifteen of them appeared in Mommsen's lifetime and he wrote five of them himself. The basic principle of the edition (contrary to previous collections) was the method of autopsy, according to which all copies (i.e., modern transcriptions) of inscriptions were to be checked and compared to the original. Further editions and research projects[edit] Mommsen published the fundamental collections in Roman law: the Corpus Iuris Civilis and the Codex Theodosianus. Furthermore, he played an important role in the publication of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, the edition of the texts of the Church Fathers, the Limes Romanus (Roman frontiers) research and countless other projects. Mommsen as politician[edit] Mommsen was a delegate to the Prussian House of Representatives
Prussian House of Representatives
from 1863–66 and again from 1873–79, and delegate to the Reichstag from 1881–1884, at first for the liberal German Progress Party (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei), later for the National Liberal Party, and finally for the Secessionists. He was very concerned with questions about academic and educational policies and held national positions. Although he had supported German Unification, he was disappointed with the politics of the German Empire
German Empire
and he was quite pessimistic about its future. Mommsen strongly disagreed with Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
about social policies in 1881, advising collaboration between Liberals and Social Democrats and using such strong language that he narrowly avoided prosecution.

Mommsen late in his career

As a Liberal nationalist, Mommsen favored assimilation of ethnic minorities into German society, not exclusion.[18] In 1879, his colleague Heinrich von Treitschke
Heinrich von Treitschke
began a political campaign against Jews (the so-called Berliner Antisemitismusstreit). Mommsen strongly opposed antisemitism and wrote a harsh pamphlet in which he denounced von Treitschke's views.[19] Mommsen viewed a solution to antisemitism in voluntary cultural assimilation, suggesting that the Jews could follow the example of the people of Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover and other German states, which gave up some of the special customs when integrating in Prussia.[20] Mommsen was a vehement spokesman for German nationalism, maintaining a militant attitude towards the Slavic nations, to the point of advocating the use of violence against them. In an 1897 letter to the Neue Freie Presse
Neue Freie Presse
of Vienna, Mommsen called Czechs
"apostles of barbarism" and wrote that "the Czech skull is impervious to reason, but it is susceptible to blows".[21][22] Influence of Mommsen[edit]

Mommsen, by Franz von Lenbach, 1897.

Fellow Nobel Laureate (1925) Bernard Shaw cited Mommsen's interpretation of the last First Consul of the Republic, Julius Caesar, as one of the inspirations for his 1898 (1905 on Broadway) play, Caesar and Cleopatra. Noted naval historian and theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan
Alfred Thayer Mahan
formulated the thesis for his magnum opus, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, while reading Mommsen's History of Rome.[23] The playwright Heiner Müller
Heiner Müller
wrote a 'performance text' entitled Mommsens Block (1993), inspired by the publication of Mommsen's fragmentary notes on the later Roman empire and by the East German government's decision to replace a statue of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
outside the Humboldt University of Berlin
University of Berlin
with one of Mommsen.[24] There is a Gymnasium (academic high school) named for Mommsen in his hometown of Bad Oldesloe, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. His birthplace Garding
in the west of Schleswig
styles itself "Mommsen-Stadt Garding" Mark Twain[edit] "One of the highpoints of Mark Twain's European tour of 1892 was a large formal banquet at the University of Berlin... . Mark Twain
Mark Twain
was an honored guest, seated at the head table with some twenty 'particularly eminent professors'; and it was from this vantage point that he witnessed the following incident... ."[25] In Twain's own words:

When apparently the last eminent guest had long ago taken his place, again those three bugle-blasts rang out, and once more the swords leaped from their scabbards. Who might this late comer be? Nobody was interested to inquire. Still, indolent eyes were turned toward the distant entrance, and we saw the silken gleam and the lifted sword of a guard of honor plowing through the remote crowds. Then we saw that end of the house rising to its feet; saw it rise abreast the advancing guard all along like a wave. This supreme honor had been offered to no one before. There was an excited whisper at our table—'MOMMSEN!'—and the whole house rose. Rose and shouted and stamped and clapped and banged the beer mugs. Just simply a storm!

Then the little man with his long hair and Emersonian face edged his way past us and took his seat. I could have touched him with my hand—Mommsen!—think of it! ... I would have walked a great many miles to get a sight of him, and here he was, without trouble or tramp or cost of any kind. Here he was clothed in a titanic deceptive modesty which made him look like other men.[26]

See also[edit]

Statue of Theodor Mommsen, Humboldt University of Berlin


Mommsen, Theodor. Rome, from earliest times to 44 B. C. (1906) online Mommsen, Theodor. History of Rome: Volume 1 (1894) online edition Mommsen, Theodor. History of Rome: Volume 2 (1871) online edition Mommsen, Theodor. History of Rome: Volume 3 (1891) online edition Mommsen, Theodor. History of Rome: Volume 4 (1908) online edition Mommsen, Theodor: Römische Geschichte. 8 Volumes. dtv, München 2001. ISBN 3-423-59055-6


^ "Theodor Mommsen". www.nndb.com. Retrieved 19 March 2018.  ^ "The Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
1902". nobelprize.org. Retrieved 19 March 2018.  ^ "Nomination Database". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 19 March 2018.  ^ "Th. Mommsen (1817 - 1903)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 26 July 2015.  ^ "MemberListM". americanantiquarian.org. Retrieved 19 March 2018.  ^ Until 2007, when Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing
won the Literature Prize, Mommsen was the oldest person to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature ^ "Archiv der BBAW, 47/1 fol. 6; Phönix aus der Asche" (PDF). p. 57.  ^ Mentzel-Reuters, Arno; Mersiowsky, Mark; Orth, Peter; Rader, Olaf B. (2005). "Phönix aus der Asche - Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
und die Monumenta Germaniae Historica" (PDF). München and Berlin: Mgh-bibliothek.de. p. 53.  ^ Vossische Zeitung 12/7/1880 (Nr. 192) in column "Lokales" ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 19 March 2018.  ^ quote: Another manuscript is beyond recall; namely, 0.4.36, which was borrowed by Professor Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
and perished in the lamentable fire at his house in 1880. It was not, apparently, an indispensable or even a very important authority for the texts (Jordanes, the Antonine Itinerary, etc.) which it contained, and other copies of its archetype are yet in being: still, the loss of it is very regrettable; M. R. James' "The Western Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge: a Descriptive Catalogue". Archived from the original on 2009-07-12.  ^ "Quote: Der größte Verlust war eine frühmittelalterliche Jordanes-Handschrift aus der Heidelberger Universitätsbibliothek" (PDF). p. 53.  ^ ...vor allem zwei aus Brüssel und Halle entlehnte Handschriften. ^ "Apart from any actual learning, the deepest impression that I carried away from my first Semester in Berlin was a sense of the pervading enthusiasm for Wissenschaft. I was also astonished at the high standard of industry both among the Seniors and the Juniors whom I mixed up with. And I could not help feeling that our steadiest workers among my Oxford undergraduate friends were only casual 'half-timers' by comparison. What was still more stimulating was the whole-hearted and unquestioning reverence for learning broadcast through the academic circles and extending even to the outside public. I had a striking proof of this: as an illustration of national character, the anecdote is worth recording. Living in Berlin at some distance from the university, I used to go in every morning by the same early tram: and at last noting that I was a foreigner of regular habits, the affable and chatty tramway conductor used to point out to me the objects worthy of interest by the way (Sehenswürdigkeiten—a crisp Teutonic word). One morning as we approached a halting-place, I saw a little old gentleman with silvery hair leaning against a lamp-post and holding a large open volume near to his short-sighted eyes, oblivious of the uproar around: the conductor sprang down towards him, and tapping him reverentially on the shoulder conducted him gently to the tram and settled him in his place. Immediately the old gentleman buried himself again up to the eyes in his tome. The conductor, proud of this new Sehenswürdigkeit, whispered to me in an awed voice: 'Da ist der berühmte Herr Professor Mommsen; er verliert kein Moment'! ('There is the famous Professor Mr Mommsen; he never loses a moment!' referring to his absorption in his book). I felt thrilled, not by Mommsen, but by this deep revelation of the national soul, an illiterate conductor knowing of Mommsen at all, knowing that he was academically famous, being proud of having him in his tram, and proud that he 'never lost a moment' for study." — Farnell, Lewis R. (1934). An Oxonian Looks Back. London: Martin Hopkinson, p. 88. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Theodor Mommsen". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski
Public Library. Archived from the original on 24 August 2014.  ^ Notes taken between 1882 and 1886 of his lectures on the Roman Empire were discovered nearly a century later and in 1992 were published under the title A History of Rome
Under the Emperors. ^ His terse style was called journalistic. His transparent comparison of ancient to modern politics was said to distort. In 1931 Egon Friedell summed it up, that in his hands " Crassus
becomes a speculator in the manner of Louis Philippe, the brothers Gracchus
are Socialist leaders, and the Gauls are Indians, etc." Friedell, Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit, v3 p270. Cf., Mommsen's History of Rome. ^ Daniel Ziblatt (2008). Structuring the State: The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism. Princeton U.P. p. 54.  ^ Graetz, Michael J. "Mommsen, Theodor". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 23 June 2010.  ^ "Prof. Mommsen and the Jews", from The Times, reprinted in The New York Times, 8 January 1881. ^ http://media.hoover.org/documents/0817944915_146.pdf ^ "An die Deutschen in Oesterreich". Neue Freie Presse
Neue Freie Presse
- issue 11923. 31 October 1897.  ^ Mahan, Alfred Thayer. From Sail to Stream: Recollections of Naval Life. New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1907: 277 ^ Heiner Müller, Mommsen's Block. In A Heiner Müller
Heiner Müller
Reader: Plays Poetry Prose. Ed. and trans. Carl Weber. PAJ Books Ser. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8018-6578-6. p.122-129. ^ Saunder and Collins, "Introduction" to their edition of Mommsen's History of Rome
(Meridian Books 1958), at 1-17, 1. ^ Cited by Saunders and Collins, supra.

Further reading[edit]

Carter, Jesse Benedict. "Theodor Mommsen," The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XCIII, 1904. Gay, Peter, and Victor G. Wexler, (eds). Historians at Work, Vol. III, 1975, pp. 271+ Lionel Gossman, Orpheus Philologus: Bachofen versus Mommsen on the Study of Antiquity. American Philosophical Society, 1983. [1] ISBN 1-4223-7467-X. Anthony Grafton. "Roman Monument" History Today September 2006 online. Mueller, G. H.. "Weber and Mommsen: non-Marxist materialism," British Journal of Sociology, (March 1986), 37(1), pp. 1–20 in JSTOR Whitman, Sidney, and Theodor Mommsen. "German Feeling toward England and America," North American Review, Vol. 170, No. 519 (Feb., 1900), pp. 240–243 online in JSTOR, an exchange of letters Krmnicek, Stefan (ed.). Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
(1817-1903) auf Medaillen und Plaketten. Sammlung des Instituts für Klassische Archäologie der Universität Tübingen (Von Krösus bis zu König Wilhelm. Neue Serie 2). Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen, Tübingen 2017, https://dx.doi.org/10.15496/publikation-19540.

External links[edit]

Media related to Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
at Wikimedia Commons Works written by or about Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
at Wikisource Quotations related to Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
at Wikiquote Nobel Prize bio The Nobel Prize Bio on Mommsen Petri Liukkonen. "Theodor Mommsen". Books and Writers Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
biography from the Mommsen family website Home page of Garding
municipality[permanent dead link] Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
History of Rome Works by Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
at Internet Archive Works by Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
at LibriVox
(public domain audiobooks) Römische Geschichte (Roman History) at German Project Gutenberg: E-Text of Vol. 1 - 5 & 8 (vol. 6 & 7 do not exist) in German.

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Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Literature


1901 Sully Prudhomme 1902 Theodor Mommsen 1903 Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson 1904 Frédéric Mistral
Frédéric Mistral
/ José Echegaray 1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz 1906 Giosuè Carducci 1907 Rudyard Kipling 1908 Rudolf Eucken 1909 Selma Lagerlöf 1910 Paul Heyse 1911 Maurice Maeterlinck 1912 Gerhart Hauptmann 1913 Rabindranath Tagore 1914 1915 Romain Rolland 1916 Verner von Heidenstam 1917 Karl Gjellerup / Henrik Pontoppidan 1918 1919 Carl Spitteler 1920 Knut Hamsun 1921 Anatole France 1922 Jacinto Benavente 1923 W. B. Yeats 1924 Władysław Reymont 1925 George Bernard Shaw


1926 Grazia Deledda 1927 Henri Bergson 1928 Sigrid Undset 1929 Thomas Mann 1930 Sinclair Lewis 1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt 1932 John Galsworthy 1933 Ivan Bunin 1934 Luigi Pirandello 1935 1936 Eugene O'Neill 1937 Roger Martin du Gard 1938 Pearl S. Buck 1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpää 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 Johannes V. Jensen 1945 Gabriela Mistral 1946 Hermann Hesse 1947 André Gide 1948 T. S. Eliot 1949 William Faulkner 1950 Bertrand Russell


1951 Pär Lagerkvist 1952 François Mauriac 1953 Winston Churchill 1954 Ernest Hemingway 1955 Halldór Laxness 1956 Juan Ramón Jiménez 1957 Albert Camus 1958 Boris Pasternak 1959 Salvatore Quasimodo 1960 Saint-John Perse 1961 Ivo Andrić 1962 John Steinbeck 1963 Giorgos Seferis 1964 Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
(declined award) 1965 Mikhail Sholokhov 1966 Shmuel Yosef Agnon
Shmuel Yosef Agnon
/ Nelly Sachs 1967 Miguel Ángel Asturias 1968 Yasunari Kawabata 1969 Samuel Beckett 1970 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 1971 Pablo Neruda 1972 Heinrich Böll 1973 Patrick White 1974 Eyvind Johnson
Eyvind Johnson
/ Harry Martinson 1975 Eugenio Montale


1976 Saul Bellow 1977 Vicente Aleixandre 1978 Isaac Bashevis Singer 1979 Odysseas Elytis 1980 Czesław Miłosz 1981 Elias Canetti 1982 Gabriel García Márquez 1983 William Golding 1984 Jaroslav Seifert 1985 Claude Simon 1986 Wole Soyinka 1987 Joseph Brodsky 1988 Naguib Mahfouz 1989 Camilo José Cela 1990 Octavio Paz 1991 Nadine Gordimer 1992 Derek Walcott 1993 Toni Morrison 1994 Kenzaburō Ōe 1995 Seamus Heaney 1996 Wisława Szymborska 1997 Dario Fo 1998 José Saramago 1999 Günter Grass 2000 Gao Xingjian


2001 V. S. Naipaul 2002 Imre Kertész 2003 J. M. Coetzee 2004 Elfriede Jelinek 2005 Harold Pinter 2006 Orhan Pamuk 2007 Doris Lessing 2008 J. M. G. Le Clézio 2009 Herta Müller 2010 Mario Vargas Llosa 2011 Tomas Tranströmer 2012 Mo Yan 2013 Alice Munro 2014 Patrick Modiano 2015 Svetlana Alexievich 2016 Bob Dylan 2017 Kazuo Ishiguro

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Classical epigraphy


l'Année épigraphique Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae Roman Inscriptions of Britain CIMRM Inscriptiones Graecae


Herbert Bloch Attilio Degrassi Margherita Guarducci Wilhelm Henzen Adolf Kirchhoff Jerzy Linderski Ciriaco de' Pizzicolli Theodor Mommsen John Sandys August Wilhelm Zumpt Ernst Badian Hermann Dessau

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 7402506 LCCN: n50004383 ISNI: 0000 0001 2098 8990 GND: 118583425 SELIBR: 258865 SUDOC: 028318900 BNF: cb12017932f (data) BIBSYS: 90072623 HDS: 10438 NLA: 35358339 NDL: 00919207 NKC: skuk0000903 BNE: XX1010875 CiNii: DA01129