A few days ago, I received the sad news that Dr Hans Krummrey, one-time director of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum in Berlin, had passed away.
It would be inappropriate for me to attempt a full obituary – there are others who have known Dr Krummrey for much longer than I have, and who will be able to praise his true and lasting achievements. I am aware of many of them, of course, but he and his many decades of service to Latin epigraphical scholarship, with many a personal hardship that he underwent for the greater good, deserve a far better chronicler than I ever could be.
Dr Krummrey, born 1930 in Guben/Gubin, was already retired by the time that I first met him when I joined the CIL, initially as an undergraduate research assistant appointed by Krummrey’s successor Dr Manfred G. Schmidt, and eventually as a member of research staff. Yet, Krummrey was very much still a permanent fixture of this institution, with an unassuming humility and a sense of duty that was verging on self-sacrifice, that has made a lasting impression on me professionally at an important stage of my academic career.
When I started my PhD in 1997, with a project on the so-called Saturnian verse inscriptions, I could not have hoped for a more generous, supportive senior advisor. The co-editor of the addenda and corrigenda to CIL I ed. alt. had worked on the Republican Latin inscriptions for decades, as well as a first-rate scholar of the Carmina Latina Epigraphica (with one of the finest paper databases on the subject that I am aware of to the present day), Krummrey left no detail of my work unturned.
In his most beautifully ironic and self-deprecating manner, he steered me away from many a grave mistake – except for those, of course, that I was too stubborn to acknowledge (usually to my regret). Krummrey’s painstaking attention to detail, his insistence on due method and consistency, and his long experience were invaluable (and I can just about imagine how embarrassed he would be to read this about himself).
But there was another side to him that I distinctly remember: an almost childlike joy that Krummrey derived from technical equipment – a joy that was contagious, and a joy that meant that in many ways, while still in post, he drove the CIL to embrace technological advances as much as possible, even in an eminently difficult and challenging, and eventually, rapidly changing political environment.
I will never be able to repay my debt to him, but today, more than ever before, I see it as my obligation to honour his work – and to share the passion and enthusiasm that he has helped me to develop and to foster with future generations of scholars in the field of Latin epigraphy and the Latin verse inscriptions.
Occasionally, we would joke about our shared research interests as ‘graveyard science’, telling each other of particularly outrageous pieces that we had recently studied.
It seems fitting therefore to conclude this short, personal piece in commemoration of Dr Krummrey with a piece from Sisak/Siscia in modern-day Croatia (CIL III 3980 = ILS 5228 = AE 2006.34):
positus est hic Leburna
[q]ui uicxit annos plus
[sum], set sic nunquam.
[opto u]os ad superos bene
To the Spirits of the Departed.
Here lies Leburna, master of a mime troupe, who lived for one-hundred years, give a few, take a few.
I have died many times, but never like this before.
I hope you up there are doing fine.
Graveyard science and death have been our business for a long time, and they continue to be mine. It has not made anything any easier when confronted with the real thing.
Dr Krummrey – requiescas in pace.
Dr Hans Krummrey, 1930–2018