Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - the Olympian and his life

´On the 28th of August 1749, with the toll of the bell at noon, I was born in Frankfurt am Main.`(The first sentence in Goethe`s autobiography ´Dichtung und Wahrheit`).

Goethe`s parents were the Imperial Councillor Johann Caspar Goethe and Catharina Elisabeth, former Textor. During his childhood and youth he lived in Frankfurt, where he was taught by this father - in Latin amongst other subjects. Between 1765 and 1768, as a student of law in Leipzip Goethe`s grades were a far cry from excellent. From 1768 to 1770 he allowed himself a two year break from university before he went back into academia. This time Strasbourg, where he wrapped up his studies of law. After graduation he settled in Frankfurt am Main as a lawyer. In this function he was involved in altogether 28 cases between 1772 and 1775. In that period he spent some time in Wetzlar, where he undertook some further training. It was in Wetzlar, too, where made friends with Charlotte Buff.

In many of his writings Goethe hinted at his home city. In his autobiography, ´Dichtung und Wahrheit` he gave a detailed description of Emperor Joseph II elections. His account is considered a rather precise literary portray of the splendour which accompanied the imperial ceremony. In 1772 Goethe witnessed the execution of Margaretha Brandt at the ´Roßmarkt`square. This is held to have been the event which inspired the literary figure ´Gretchen`in the play ´Faust.` Also it was in Frankfurt where Goethe made the most significant literary contribution to an era his contemporary and friend, Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, termed ´Sturm und Drang.` These works of art comprised ´Götz von Berlichingen`, ´Clavigo` and ´Werther`. Finally, ´West-östlicher Divan`, a further prominent piece of writing, to be completed at a much later stage of Goethe`s career, was strongly inspired by a relationship the artist entertained with a lady from Frankfurt. Her name: Marianne von Willemer. Goethe and Willemer met at the ´Gerbermühle` and the Willemer-house (´Willemer-Häuschen).

As a youth Goethe already had a wide range of varying interests. For a long time he was undecided as to whether he should pick up a career as painter or poet. He was also interested in natural science. During his second journey to Switzerland, during the year 1779, he started collecting minerals. He developed the theory of colours, which, however, subsequently was proven incorrect by more recent studies. At the age of 35 Goethe discovered the central jaw bone in the human skull. Two years earlier he had been knighted and left Frankfurt. He set up his new home in Weimar. That same year his father, Johann Caspar Goethe, died.

After his father`s death and his reluctance to return to Frankfurt, Goethe`s mother resolved to sell their family home, now known as ´Goethe-Haus` in the ´Hirschgraben´ road. In 1804 Goethe was appointed ´Wirklicher Geheimer Rat`, i.ed ´private councillor`. 1808 his mother died. 1815 Goethe was called upon to assume the post of minister of state. 1816 his wife died. Goethe himself died in Weimar on the 22nd of March 1832, aged 82.

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