Heinrich Schliemann


1822 - 1890


Heinrich Schliemann was born on January 6, 1822 in the small village of Neu Buckow, Germany. His parents were Ernst and Luise Therese Sophie Schliemann. His interest in Homeric Troy started when his father, a protestant minister, gave him a book or Christmas in 1829 by Ludwig Jerrer entitled Illustrated History of the World .


Schliemann\'s mother died in 1831, and Heinrich was sent to live with his uncle, Frederich Schliemann. While at his uncle\'s, Schliemann concentrated on school and was regarded as a promising student. The next year, when Heinrich was 11, he was sent to the prestigious Gymnasium at Neu Strelitz. His dreams of becoming a classical scholar were shattered, however, when his father, a pastor, was accused of embezzling church funds. Unable to pay for the private academy, Heinrich was forced to attend the Realschule, the common school. Despite his progress, he was forced to leave that school as well when his father fell even further into financial problems in the spring of 1836.


Forced to make a living on his own, Heinrich Schliemann went to work at Herr Holtz\'s grocery shop in Furstenburg. He hated everything about the job. His main joy, he later claimed, was his friendship with a young miller who could recite 100 lines of Homer in ancient Greek. Though he could not understand the language, Schliemann claimed that the words inspired him, and "from that moment, I did not cease to pray to God that by his grace it might one day be permitted to me to learn Greek."


An accident prompted Schliemann to leave the grocer\'s and he wandered around Hamburg and Amsterdam, looking for jobs. In 1842, he found employment in Prussia with the F.C. Quien and Co. counting house, stamping bills of exchange and getting them cashed in town. He had long dreamed of becoming rich and he finally saw a way to make it happen. He dedicated his life toward the pursuit of that goal - he wasted little money on living expenses, spent nothing on entertainment, had nothing to do with women, educated himself and spent money only on the advancement his education. During this period, his genius for language became apparent - he taught himself fluent Dutch, English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese in two years.


On March 1, 1844, Schliemann got a job with Herr Schroder\'s office, a large import and export business. He showed such shrewd negotiating skills that he was stationed in Russia in 1846, representing Schroder as well as several other businesses. He was instantly successful, and traveled throughout Europe both for business and pleasure.


Though he was realizing his dream of becoming rich, Schliemann remained a tortured spirit. He learned that Minna, his childhood sweetheart, had married someone else. This threw him into a state of depression, and he vowed that someday he would be rich enough to marry any woman he wanted. Wealth became the elusive idol he strove for he imagined it was a panacea that would cure all his personal shortcomings.


On May 25, 1850, Schliemann\'s brother Ludwig who was a banker in Sacramento had died, leaving what was described as "a large estate." Schliemann, jealous over his brother\'s relatively easy success, left for America in December of 1850, determined to increase his own fortune as well.


Schliemann arrived in Sacramento in early 1851, and set himself up as a buyer of gold-dust. His wealth did indeed increase, but Schliemann derived little pleasure from it. Instead, the more wealthy he became, the more paranoid he became he was still lonely, and now he was also afraid that somebody might try to rob him of his riches.


On April 7, 1852, he liquidated his business and returned to Russia. There, he indulged himself in fineries - he had a large apartment, fine wines, expensive horses, and his own carriage. On the outside he had an air of authority and sophistication inside, however, he was as miserable as ever, tormented by ambition and sexual passions.


On October 12, 1852, he married Ekaterina Lishin, the niece of a wealthy friend. Schliemann entered into the marriage with high hopes, but he was soon disappointed - Ekaterina turned out to be distant, refusing to sleep with him and acting as if she were waiting