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Schliemann’s gift with languages has been studied only sporadically, Elizabeth Carvalho’s short essay, titled “Heinrich Schliemann, the linguist,” being the most comprehensive study.
Schliemann the legendary excavator of Troy and Mycenae hardly needs an introduction.
A host of publications deal with the last twenty years of his life and the results of his excavations.
At 19 he moved to Hamburg with the intention of immigrating to the United States, but the ship he was travelling was shipwrecked soon after its departure.
Young Heinrich hung on to a floating cask and was literally washed ashore on the sandbanks of Amsterdam.
Feeling re-born and thanking his lucky stars, Schliemann did not return to Germany but decided to stay in Amsterdam to work as a clerk.
“The routine nature of my work suited me very well, since it left me sufficient time to attend to my neglected education…Emil Ludwig (1881-1948) was a famous German biographer of Jewish descent.By the time Sophia Schliemann and her daughter Andromache approached Ludwig in the early 1920s, he had already written the biographies of Goethe, Bismarck, and Wilhelm II.The loss of his mother, when he was nine years old, and his father’s promiscuous life soon drove young Heinrich and his siblings out of the house.To support himself he worked long hours as a grocer’s assistant, without receiving any education after the age of 13.It is only recently, however, that any interest has been taken in Schliemann’s “non-Greek” past, his early years, when he was a successful merchant, an obsessive traveler, and a compulsive linguist.What else can we call a man who taught himself to read, write, and speak more than fifteen languages?During that visit they were shown the travel diaries of Heinrich Schliemann, and found them fascinating because they were written in so many languages.I still remember their excitement when we discovered that there were entries in Urdu!Nothing is such an incentive to study as poverty and the knowledge that a sure means of escape from it can be found through hard work,” Schliemann wrote (Ludwig 1931, p. During his Amsterdam years, 1842-1846, Schliemann learned Dutch, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.In the Schliemann papers in the Gennadius Library, there are hundreds of letters exchanged between Schliemann and Schroeder and Company.