Edvard af Brunér
Humanist of the day

Edvard af Brunér

Edvard af Brunér was a multifaceted scholar of antiquity who as a professor strove to develop the teaching of classical languages and literature both in schools and at the University. His grammar of Latin was used for over half a century. His career was nevertheless cut short by illness, and af Brunér’s pioneering international research on Catullus was lost to posterity.

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

An interest in literature, history and poetry on the one hand, and politics on the other, were already present in Edvard af Brunér’s childhood home. His father, the Lawspeaker Jonas af Brunér, was involved in establishing the political direction of the Grand Duchy of Finland, and was granted a position in the aristocracy in 1840 in reward for his efforts. His mother, Sara Kristina Franzén, was the sister of the poet Bishop Frans Michael Franzén. Edvard’s older brother, Frans Olof, (1807–74) followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a senator, long-term member of the Committee for Finnish Affairs and privy councillor.

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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.

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