Curtius was born in Lübeck, and was the brother of the historian and archeologist Ernst Curtius. After an education at Bonn and Berlin, he was for three years a schoolmaster in Dresden, until (in 1845) he returned to Berlin University as privatdocent. In 1849 he was placed in charge of the Philological Seminary at Prague, and two years later was appointed professor of classical philology in Prague University. In 1852, he moved from Prague to a similar appointment at Kiel, and again in 1862 from Kiel to Leipzig.
His philological theories exercised a widespread influence. The more important of his publications are:
- Die Sprachvergleichung in ihrem Verhältniss zur classischen Philologie (1845; Eng. trans. by FH Trithen, 1851)
- Sprachvergleichende Beiträge zur griechischen und lateinischen Grammatik (1846)
- Grundzüge der griechischen Etymologie (1858-1862, 5th ed. 1879)
- Das Verbum der griechischen Sprache (1873).
From 1878 till his death Curtius was general editor of the Leipziger Studien zur classischen Philologie. His Griechische Schulgrammatik, first published in 1852, has passed through more than twenty editions, and has been edited in English. In his last work, Zur Kritik der neuesten Sprachforschung (1885), he attacks the views of the emerging Neogrammarian school of philology.
Curtius died in Hermsdorf am Kynast, aged 65, and was succeeded at Leipzig by Karl Brugmann. The Opuscula of Georg Curtius were edited after his death by Ernst Windisch (Kleine Schriften von E. C., 1886-1887).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Curtius, Ernst". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. This work in turn cites: