Pieter Burmann (1668-1741), Dutch classical scholar, known as "the Elder," to distinguish him from his nephew, was born at Utrecht. At the age of thirteen he entered the university where he studied under Graevius and Gronovius. He devoted himself particularly to the study of the classical languages, and became unusually proficient in Latin composition. As he was intended for the legal profession, he spent some years in attendance on the law classes. For about a year he studied at Leiden, paying special attention to philosophy and Greek. On his return to Utrecht he took the degree of doctor of laws (March 1688), and after travelling through Switzerland and part of Germany, settled down to the practice of law, without, however, abandoning his classical studies. In December 1691 he was appointed receiver of the tithes which were originally paid to the bishop of Utrecht, and five years later was nominated to the professorship of eloquence and history. To this chair was soon added that of Greek and politics. In 1714 he paid a short visit to Paris and ransacked the libraries.
In the following year he was appointed successor to the celebrated Perizonius, who had held the chair of history, Greek language and eloquence at Leiden. He was subsequently appointed professor of history for the United Provinces and chief librarian. His numerous editorial and critical works spread his fame as a scholar throughout Europe, and engaged him in many of the stormy disputes which were then so common among men of letters. Burmann was rather a compiler than a critic; his commentaries show immense learning and accuracy, but are wanting in taste and judgment. He died on the 31st of March 1741.
Burmann edited the following classical authors: - Phaedrus (1698); Horace (1699); Valerius Flaccus (1702); Petronius Arbiter (1709); Velleius Paterculus (1719); Quintilian (1720); Justin (1722); Ovid (1727); Poetae Latini minores (1731); Suetonius (1736); Lucan (1740). He also published an edition of Buchanan's works, continued Graevius's great work, Thesaurus Antiquitatum et Historiarum Italiae, and wrote a treatise De Vectigalibus populi Romani (1694) and a short manual of Roman antiquities, Antiquitatum Romanarum Brevis Descriptio (1711). His Sylloge epistolarum a viris illustribus scriptarum (1725) is of importance for the history of learned men. The list of his works occupies five pages in Saxe's Onomasticon. His poems and orations were published after his death. There is an account of his life in the Gentleman's Magazine for April (1742) by Dr Samuel Johnson.