ROTH, Walter Rudolf (von). Stuttgart 3.4.1821 — Tübingen 23/24.6.1895. German Indologist. Professor in Tübingen. Son of an official, in a family of Lutheran priests and teachers, lost his father in the age of 13, but was cared for by the family. Studies of theology at Tübingen, also learnt Seand Sanskrit under Ewald (together with Schleicher). For a while worked as a curate in Württemberg. Ph.D. 1843 Tübingen. Further studies under Burnouf in Paris and copying Veda manuscripts in London and Oxford. From 1845 PD für orientalische Philologie at Tübingen, from 1848 ao. and from 1856 ord. Professor für Indologie und allgemeine Religionsgeschichte, ibid. Also taught comparative linguistics and religion, theology and Hebrew. Professor and Librarian of the University (from 1856) until his death. He was twice married, widowed in 1853 and 1881, several children.
RR was a great pioneer of Vedic philology. Especially in the beginning he had to work with manuscripts as there were no editions. Before him the Rigveda was always understood as explained by Sāyaṇa, but he claimed that S. knew actually no more than we of the real content. Although taking Iranian and IE comparison into account, he tried to interpret the RV through itself avoiding both Indian and etymological exegesis. Of course he brought this too far — one gets the glimpse that he thought the RV to be more IE than Indian (albeit not as markedly as Grassmann) — but the development from the uncritical use of Sāyaṇa to him and through the Indianizing counterreaction of Pischel and Geldner led ultimately to a better understanding. An important task in RR’s eyes was to achieve a clear and poetic translation of the RV; according to Benfey he turned its hymns into Swabian folk songs. These, however, he never published much, and his main work remains the Vedic (and āyurvedic) part of the PW. He was more a philologist than linguist and although he was among the founders of comparative mythology, he was here overshadowed by A. Kuhn. In addition to the RV he worked much on the Atharvaveda and discovered the Paippalāda recension. His papers contain a complete translation of it. Among his other interests were Āyurveda, Avesta and the history of Tübingen University.
In his time RR was one of the most famous Indologists of the world. He was given the personal title of nobility (“von”) by the king of Württenberg in 1873. Hon. dr.theol. 1877 Tübingen and dr.iuris 1889 Edinburgh. He was also famous as a teacher and attracted great number of students to Tübingen: Bloomfield, v. Bradke, Bruce, Euting, Garbe, Geldner, Giussani, S. Goldschmidt, Grassmann, Grill, Haug, Holtzmann Jr., Kaegi, E. Kuhn, Lanman, Lindner, Macdonell, Mills, Osiander, Pertsch, L. v. Schroeder, Siegfrid, M. A. Stein, Trumpp, Whitney (with whom he then collaborated), Zimmer Senior.
Publications: Diss. on Semitic. 1843 (manuscript?).
–“Extrait du Vikramacharitram et quelques remarques sur cette collection de contes”, JA 4:6, 1845, 278-305.
– hab.diss. Zur Litteratur und Geschichte der Weda. Drei Abhandlungen. 146 p. St. 1846.
– edited: Jâska’s Nirukta sammt den Nighaṇṭavas. 72+228+230 p. Göttingen 1851 (fasc. 1. 1848).
– “Die Sage von Çunaḥçepa”, ISt 1, 1850, 457-464 & 2, 1851, 111-123; Über den mythus von den fünf menschengeschlechtern bei Hesiod und die indische lehre von den vier weltaltern. 33 p. Tübinger Universitätsschriften aus dem Jahre 1860, Nr. 2.
– with O. N. Böhtlingk et al.: Sanskrit-Wörterbuch nebst allen Nachträgen. 1-7. 1142+1100+1016+1214+1678+1506+1822 col. St.P. 1853-1875 (the so-called “Petersburger Wörterbuch” or “PW”).
– edited with W. D. Whitney: Atharva-veda Sanhita. 6+390 p. B. 1855.
– Abhandlung über den Atharva Véda. 36 p. Tüb. Univ.schr. a. d. Jahre 1856, Nr. 5; Abhandlung über die Atharvaveda in Kaschmir. 29 p. Ibid. 1876, Nr. 2.
– Verzeichniss Indischer Handscriften … in Tübingen. 24 p. Tübinger Universitätsschriften aus dem Jahre 1865, Nr. 3.
– “Die indische Medicin. Caraka”, ZDMG 26, 1872, 441-452.
– transl. with K. Geldner & A. Kaegi: Siebenzig Lieder des Rigveda. 14+176 p. Tübingen 1875.
– Über Yaçna 31. 31 p. Tübinger Universitätsschriften aus dem Jahre 1876, Nr. 6.
– “Rechtschreibung im Veda”, ZDMG 48, 1894, 101-119, 676-684, 710f.
– articles on Veda, Āyurveda, Avesta, etc. in ZDMG, KZ, Ind. St. etc.
– Kleine Schriften. Hrsg. von K. Meisig. 17+743 p. Glasenapp-St. 36. St. 1994.
– Beiträge zur Geschichte der Universität Tübingen. 1. 43 p. Tübinger Universitätsschriften aus dem Jahre 1867, Nr. 3; Urkunden zur Geschichte der Universität Tübingen aus den Jahren 1476 bis 1550. 743 p. 1877; Das Büchergewerbe in Tübingen vom Jahre 1500–1800. 55 p. 1880; Die fürstliche Liberei auf Hohentübingen und ihre Entführung im Jahr 1635. 47 p. Tüb. Univ.schr. aus dem Jahre 1887/88, Nr. 7.
Sources: P. Aalto, “R.R. und die Religion der Finnen”, Ant. Indogerm. H. Güntert 1974, 267–27?; Buckland, Dictionary; Garbe, BB 22, 1897, 139-152 (with bibliography); *Garbe, A.D.B.; Macdonell, JRAS 1895, 906-911; Windisch 254-265; Brückner et al., Indienforschung im Zeitenwandel. 2003 (H. v. Stietencron, 7789 & G. Zeller, 91-118, also a photo; Wikipedia with portrait (also in Sardesai and Rau 28), some further references in German version.