Helvicus, Christopher

, professor of the Greek and eastern languages, and of divinity, in the university of Giessen, was born Dec. 26, 1581, at Sprendlingen, a little town near Francfort, where his father was minister. He went throb gh his studies in Marpurg, where he took his degree of M. A. in 1599, having taken his bachelor’s in 1595. He was an early genius composed a prodigiousnumber of Greek verses at fifteen years old and was capable of teaching Greek, Hebrew, and even philosophy, before he was twenty. The Hebrew he spoke as fluently as if it had been his native language. He thoroughly read the Greek authors; and even studied physic for some time, though he had devoted himself to the ministry. In 1605, he was chosen to teach Greek and Hebrew, in the college which the landgrave had recently established at Giessen;, and which the year after was converted into an university by the emperor, who endowed it with privileges. Having discharged for five years the several duties of his employment with great reputation, he was appointed divinity professor in 1610. In 1611, a church was offered him in Moravia, and a professorship at Hamburgh with a considerable stipend: but he refused both. In 1613, he took the degree of D. D. at the command of the landgrave; who sent him to Francfort, that he might view the library of the Jews, who had been lately driven away by popular tumults. Helvicus, fond of reading the rabbins, bought several of their books on that occasion. He died in the flower of his age, Sept. 10, 1616; and his loss was bewailed by the German poets of the Augsburg confession. A collection was made of his poems, which were printed with his funeral sermon and some other pieces, under the title of “Cippus Memorialis,” by the care of Winckleman, who had been his colleague.

He was reputed to have had a most skilful and methodical way of teaching languages. He was a good grammarian and published several grammars, as Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac but they were only abridgements. His Hebrew and Latin Lexicons were also, by way of essay, calculated for youth. He was likewise an able chronologer. His chronological tables have gone through several editions, and been greatly esteemed, though they are not, as it is difficult to conceive they should be, quite free from errors. He published them in 1609, under the title of “Theatrum Historicum, sive Chronologise Systema | Novum, Sec.” and brought them down from the beginning of the world to 1612; but they were afterwards revised and continued by John Baithasar Schuppius, son-in-law to the author, and professor of eloquence and history in the university of Marpurg; and this is the only one of his works whose use has not been entirely superseded. 1


Gen. Dict. —Moreri. Freheri Theatrnm