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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 121 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH WILHELM JACOBS (1764-1847), German classical scholar, was born at Gotha on the 6th of October 1764. After studying philology and theology at Jena and Gottingen,• in 1785 he became teacher in the gymnasium of his native town, and in 18o2 was appointed to an office in the public library. In 1807 he became classical tutor in the lyceum of Munich, but, disgusted at the attacks made upon him by the old Bavarian Catholic party, who resented the introduction of " north German " teachers, he returned to Gotha in 1810 to take charge of the library and the numismatic cabinet. He remained in Gotha till his death on the 3oth of March 1847. Jacobs was an extremely successful teacher; he took great interest in the affairs of his country, and was a publicist of no mean order. But his great work was an edition of the Greek Anthology, with copious notes, in 13 volumes (1798-1814), supplemented by a revised text from the Codex Palatinus (1814-1817). He published also notes on I-Iorace, Stobaeus, Euripides, Athenaeus and the Iliaca of Tzetzes; translations of Aelian (History of Animals); many of the Greek romances; Philostratus; poetical versions of much of the Greek Anthology; miscellaneous essays on classical subjects; and some very successful school books. His translation of the political speeches of Demosthenes was undertaken with the express purpose of the autumn of 1872, while collecting plants in a morass near Ordrup, he contracted pulmonary disease. His illness, which cut him off from scientific investigation, drove him to literature. He met the famous critic, Dr Georg Brandes, who was struck by his powers of expression, and under his influence, in the spring of 1873, Jacobsen began his great historical romance of Marie Grubbe. His method of composition was painful and elaborate, and his work was not ready for publication until the close of 1876. In 1879 he was too ill to write at all; but in 188o an improvement came, and he finished his second novel, Niels Lyhne. In 1882 he published a volume of six short stories, most of them written a few years earlier, called, from the first of them, Mogens. After this he wrote no more, but lingered on in his mother's house at Thisted until the 3oth of April 1885. In 1886 his posthumous fragments were collected. It was early recognized that Jacobsen was the greatest artist in prose that Denmark has produced. He has been compared with Flaubert, with De Quincey, with Pater; but these parallelisms merely express a sense of the intense individuality of his style, and of his untiring pursuit of beauty in colour, form and melody. Although he wrote so little, and crossed the living stage so hurriedly, his influence in the North has been far-reaching. It may be said that no one in Denmark or Norway has tried to write prose carefully since 188o whose efforts have not been in some degree modified by the example of Jacobsen's laborious art. His Samlede Skrifter appeared in two volumes in 1888; in 1899 his letters (Breve) were edited by Edvard Brandes. In 1896 an English translation of part of the former was published under the title of Siren Voices: Niels Lyhne, by Miss E. F. L. Robertson. (E. G.) JACOB'S WELL, the scene of the conversation between Jesus and the " woman of Sarnaria " narrated in the Fourth Gospel, is described as being in the neighbourhood of an other-wise unmentioned " city called Sychar." From the time of Eusebius this city has been identified with Sychem or Shechem (modern Nablus), and the well is still in existence 1a m. E. of the town, at the foot of Mt Gerizim. It is beneath one of the ruined arches of a church mentioned by Jerome, and is reached by a few rough steps. When Robinson visited it in 1838 it was 105 ft. deep, but it is now much shallower and often dry. For a discussion of Sychar as distinct from Shechem see T. K. Cheyne, art. " Sychar," in Ency. Bibl., col. 483o. It is possible that Sychar should be placed at Tulul Galata, a mound about z m. W. of the well (Palestine Exploration Fund Statement, 1907, p. 92 seq.); when that village fell into ruin the name may have migrated to 'Askar, a village on the lower slopes of Mt Ebal about It m. E.N.E. from Nablus and 4 m. N. from Jacob's Well. It may be noted that the difficulty is not with the location of the well, but with the identification of Sychar.

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