The concept of 'scholarly personae' emerged about a decade ago in the history of science. Since then it has increasingly been used both inside and outside the historical discipline. This article examines where this interest comes from, what shapes it takes, and what types of research it stimulates. The thesis advanced in this article is that interest in scholarly personae, defined as ideal-typical models of being a scholar, emerges from at least four different sources. 1) The theme enables historical theorists to develop a 'philosophy of historical practices'. 2) It offers historians the possibility of writing an integrated history of the sciences and the humanities. 3) It challenges linear story lines in historical writing. 4) Last but not least, it stimulates moral reflection on contemporary models of being a scholar, if only by providing a vocabulary for those wishing to judge models like the 'successful grant applicant' on their relative merits.