Saxius, Christopher

, a very learned philologer and literary historian, was born at Eppendorff, a village between Chemnitz and Freyberg, in Saxony, where his father was a clergyman, Jan. 13, 1714. His proper name was Christopher Gottlob Sach, which, when he commenced author, he Latinized into Sachsius, and afterwards into Saxius, dropping the Gottlob altogether. His father first gave him some, instructions in the teamed languages, which he afterwards improved at the school of Chemnitz, but more effectually at the electoral school of Misnia, where he also studied classical antiquities, history, and rhetoric, and in 1735 went to Leipsic with the strongest recommendations for industry and proficiency. Here he studied philosophy under the celebrated Wolff, but as he had already perused the writings both of the ancient and modern philosophers with profound attention, he is said to have had the courage to differ from the current opinions. Philosophy, however, as then taught, was less to his taste than the study of antiquities, classical knowledge, and literary history, to which he determined to devote his days; and the instructions of professor Christ, and his living in the house with Menkenius, who had an excellent library, were circumstances which very powerfully confirmed this resolution. He had not been here above a year, when two young noblemen were confided to his care, and this induced him to cultivate the modern languages most in use. His first disputation had for its subject, “Vindiciae secundum libertatem pro Maronis jEneide, cui manum Jo. Harduinus nuper assertor injecerat,” Leipsic, 1737. Among other learned men who highly applauded this dissertation was the second Peter Burmann, in the preface to his Virgil, but who afterwards, in his character as a critic, committed some singular mistakes in condemning Saxius, while he applauded Sachsius, not | knowing that they were one and the same. In 1738 Saxius took his master’s degree, and commenced his literary career by writing a number of critical articles in the “Nova acta eruditorum,” and other literary journals, from this year to 1747. Tiiis employment involved him sometimes in controversies with his learned brethren, particularly with Peter Burmann, or with foreign authors with whose works he had taken liberties. In 1745 he visited the most considerable parts of Germany, and was at Franckfort on the Maine during the coronation of the Emperor. In 1752 he was appointed professor of history, antiquities, and rhetoric at Utrecht, and on entering on his office pronounced an oration on the science of antiquity, which was printed in 1753, 4to. After this his life seems to have been devoted entirely to the duties of his professorship, and the composition of a great many works on subjects of philology and criticism, some in German, but principally in Latin. The most considerable of these, the only one much known in this country, is his “Onomasticon Literarium,” or Literary Dictionary, consisting of a series of biographical and critical notices or references respecting the most eminent writers of every age or nation, and in every branch of literature, in chronological order. The first volume of this appeared in 1775, 8vo, and it continued to be published until seven volumes were completed, with a general Index, in 1790. To this, in 1793, he added an eighth or supplementary volume, from which we have extracted some particulars of his life, as given by himself. This is a work almost indispensable to biographers, and as the work of one man, must have been the production of many years* labour and attention. Some names, however, are omitted, which we might have expected to find in it; and the English series, as in every foreign undertaking of the kind, is very imperfect. We have seen no account of his latter days. He lived to a very advanced age, dying at Utrecht. May 3, 1806, in his ninety-second year. 1


Saxii Onomast. vol. VIII.—Harles de Vitis Philologorum, vol I.