Abraham Gronovius - Professor of Classical Philology

Personal data
Abraham Gronovius
Born June 24, 1695
in Leyden

Died August 10, 1775
Professor Gronovius

Son of Jacob Gronovius and Anna van Vredenburch. Grandson of Johannes Fredericus Gronovius (1611-1671), Professor of Classical Philology at Leyden. Brother of Johan Frederik Gronovius. In 1720 he married Dorothea Wijnanda van Asch van Wijck, with whom he had at least seven children, although few of them appears to have survived childhood. 

Gronovius was the librarian at the University Library in Leyden from 1741 until his death in 1775 and earned some fame in his own time as a classical scholar. He edited several classical Latin and Greek texts. His most famous work was a new edition of Marcus Junianus Justinus (3rd cent.).1

  • 1Just over half a century later, the Danish scholar B. G. Niebuhr said in his famous lectures on ancient history that "Of all the scholars that have been occupied with Justin, scarcely one deserves honourable mention, with the exception of James Bongarsius, a French Protestant, whose library still exists at Berne. He was a clever man, and a distinguished commentator. Most of the others are quite incompetent; and the last, Abraham Gronovius, is the most incompetent of all. Yet his edition is the only one, that can in some measure be recommended because it contains a good collection of the various readings."(See Lectures on Ancient History, vol. 1 published in 1852) 
Life with Boswell

Gronovius was an old friend of Boswell's father, since the latter's student days at Leyden. So, with an introduction from his father, Boswell visited Gronovius at Leyden on August 12, 1763. He was warmly received and returned to see him on December 20, when he "passed an hour with him, quite Dutch, commentaric, and comfortable". They met again a few times in early January 1764 as well as in the spring.

Shortly before Boswell left Holland for good, on June 6, 1764, he again visited "Gronovius in his garden. I owned to him my melancholy. He bid me conceal it, and be always busy or amused. We passed this our last evening with much satisfaction. I took a hearty leave of him". A few days later Boswell had delivered to Gronovius 45 bottles of Port, for which he received a very warm letter of thanks.


Some Gronovius editions of classical texts are sometimes available via online used book stores.