Go Back

Edvard af Brunér

Edvard Jonas Wilhelm Brunér (from 1840 af Brunér)
Born October 30, 1816, Porvoo. Died September 1, 1871, Helsinki

Baccalaureate 1832, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts 1836, Licentiate 1846, PhD (top of class) 1847

Extraordinary amanuensis of Helsinki University Library 1836–1840, permanent amenuensis 1840–42, senior amenuansis 1842–48
Docent in Roman literature 1840–48
Research assisant in Greek and Roman literature 1848–52
Professor of eloquence and poetics (from 1852 Roman literature) 1851–
Dean of the Department of History and Language Sciences 1867–68
Conferrer of academic degrees at the Department of History and Language Sciences 1860

Membership of associations and academic societies:
Finnish Literature Society 1841
Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters 1856, chairman 1861–62
Inspector (supervisor) of the Uusmaalainen student nation 1868–71

Order of St Anne, 3rd class 1856
Order of Saint Stanislaus, 2nd class 1863
Privy Councillor 1869

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Written by Tiia Niemelä
Translated by Matthew Billington

Multifaceted authority on classical poetry

Edvard af Brunér had a broad interest in antiquity, and the focus of his scholarly interest also sprang from everyday life. Through his university teaching, he developed an interest in Roman didactic poetry and areas of linguistics; developments in transportation during the period provoked him to consider how conditions in antiquity had differed, and his work at the University Library sparked his interest in the books and libraries of antiquity.

Af Brunér wrote his doctoral dissertation on Virgil’s The Aeneid. The epic poem depicts the flight of Trojans to Latium following the fall of Troy, and describes the founding of the mythical predecessor of Rome. Af Brunér pondered the historical credibility of the tale, and the same problem fascinates scholar today, 150 years later. His later studies dealt with the poet Catullus and the playwright Terence.

Aeneas carrying his father on his shoulders while fleeing the destruction of Troy. Elisha Kirkall’s mixed media print is from 1722. Picture: Wikimedia Commons / Wellcome Images.

In 1861 af Brunér published a study on Catullus, De ordine et temporibus carminum C. Valerii Catulli, which was based not only on his own research into Classical literature and Classical forms but also on international research. Af Brunér had been particularly inspired by the German scholar Theodor Mommsen’s History of Rome, in which he explored Catullus’ relationship with the Rome’s rulers. Af Brunér’s work was nevertheless forgotten soon after his death, following a shift in the discipline at the University of Helsinki away from the strand represented by af Brunér. Nevertheless, due to the formulation of its research questions, and its methods and results, the work is one of the rare examples of truly pioneering, international Finnish Classical literary scholarship.

Väisänen, Maija. Brunér, Edvard af (1816-1871). National Biography online publication. Accessed November 16, 2015.
Edvard Jonas Wilhelm af Brunér. Wikipedia. Accessed 18 November, 2015

Go Back