Classical Studies Newsletter, Volume IX, Summer 2003

Letter from the Chair

On January 1, 2003, I took over from Bruce W. Frier as Chair of the Department of Classical Studies. I feel privileged to have been chosen for this position, which entails the opportunity-and obligation-to help keep the flame of classical learning at the University of Michigan alive for future generations. The Department's reputation for Classics, Classical Archaeology and now Modern Greek stretches far beyond Michigan and across the ocean. I had been teaching at universities in Los Angeles and London, but still recalled my first visit to Ann Arbor in the beautiful fall of 1987; although only a bird of passage, I was received most warmly by Ludwig Koenen and the late John D'Arms. So I was honored to be offered this exciting opportunity, and look forward to my tenure as Chair.

I was delighted to find that my predecessors, my colleagues, and our staff in the Departmental office can be proud of what they have accomplished in the past few years. Since modesty seems to be a-wholly admirable-Michigan trait, I shall say why.

First, they revived this Newsletter and refreshed our website. These media are vital to keeping our community in touch with the Department's intellectual life, reaching out to nearby universities and Michigan generally, and ensuring that the wider world knows what a special place Ann Arbor is for classical studies. Also, with the support of the University's administration, they laid firm foundations for rebuilding our faculty after several retirements. They set up a strong Program in Modern Greek, with an endowed Chair, Lectures, Symposia, and now a concentration (major). Above all, they so reinvigorated our undergraduate programs that there are over 100 concentrators and minors. I shall do my utmost to help maintain and build on these achievements.

Over the past term, we heard many exciting lectures, several in honor of Michigan's great teachers, scholars and administrators of the last half-century. There was a one-day symposium in honor of the late John D'Arms, with lectures by William Harris, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and our alumnus John Bodel. This was combined with the inaugural lecture of our new John H. D'Arms Collegiate Professor, Sue Alcock. Professor D'Arms would have enjoyed the discussions of Roman high living, gardens, and power-dinners.

Our Gerald F. Else Lecturer was Jonathan Lear of the University of Chicago, who spoke on Plato's Republic in the spectacular setting of the Hatcher Graduate Library. The topic would have pleased Professor Else, who would also have been delighted by the large audience, since involving the wider community was one of his great concerns.

The Roger A. Pack Lecture was given by Ian Rutherford, who spoke on the Hesiodic Catalog of Women; Michigan's collection includes a papyrus of this poem. Professor Pack exemplified Michigan modesty to the full, yet he only undertook extremely difficult topics, like Artemidorus' 'Interpretation of Dreams'; he also catalogued all Greek literary papyri. I should like to find the means to make this lecture an annual event.

The newly endowed Pallas Lecture featured a fascinating analysis by Bill Clinton's speech-writer Paul Glastris of the current President's martial rhetoric; this was one among many exciting events organized by the Modern Greek Program. There was a memorable Graduate Student conference on 'Water: plumbing the depths of purity and pollution', with keynote speakers Nicholas Purcell and Richard Thomas (another alumnus). The Else endowment supported this event, as well as the Else Lecture and D'Arms symposium. Basil Dufallo co-organized a symposium on the theme of 'Dead Lovers' in the classical tradition; speakers included Jay Reed and Yopie Prins. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Michele Ronnick of Wayne State reconstructed the career of the first African-American classics professor, William S. Scarborough, whose autobiography she has rediscovered. Contexts for Classics sponsored Eleanor Rappe's exhibit 'Plato's Studio: Fragments and Restorations' (I always suspected that Plato was an artist manqué!), while Sharon Herbert presided over several exciting exhibits at the Kelsey Museum.

Our faculty was augmented by the arrival, as Professor of Classics, English and Comparative Literature, of Anne Carson, the noted translator and poet, and Lisa Nevett, Assistant Professor of Classical Archeology, who is shared with Art History; her specialty is ancient domestic architecture. We were sorry to bid farewell to Sabine MacCormack, who is moving to Notre Dame. Bruce Frier was elected to the American Philosophical Society.

In the coming year we shall be welcoming several new faculty. Dirk Obbink, holder, like Professors Alcock and Carson, of a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, is joining us from Christ Church, Oxford, as Collegiate Professor. His presence further increases our strength in papyrology and Greek literature; he has edited many papyri from Oxyrhynchus in Egypt as well as Philodemus' On Piety from the ashes of Herculaneum. He, James Porter, and I have long worked together in the NEH-funded Philodemus Translation Project.

Our new Assistant Professor of Latin poetry is Farouk Grewing of the University of Cologne, who will join us in 2004. Author of a definitive commentary on Book VI of Martial's Epigrams, he plans a study of Saturnalian Latin literature. Benjamin Fortson, an expert on the meter of Plautus and Indo-European linguistics, will join us as Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin Language, Literature and Historical Linguistics. We expect to appoint another Latinist, to be shared with Comparative Literature.

As to future events, the Knudsvig Symposium on Latin Linguistics is on 19 Sept.; the Platsis Symposium is on "Bioethics: Ancient and Modern" (21-22 Sept.), and the Else Lecture will be by Danielle Allen, University of Chicago on the topic "Last Words: Rhetoric, Death, and Authority" (October 30). In the winter, there will be a conference on "Re-Imagining the Ancient World in 19th-Century Britain" (January 30), John Pinto's Jerome Lectures (February 2-11), the Midwestern Consortium on Ancient Religions (March 20), the Pack Lecture, and the annual meeting of the Association of Ancient Historians (May 7-9).

XAIPETE, as the Greeks said and still say in parting. But it also means 'hello' and 'be happy'!

Richard Janko, Chair

Index of Topics

  • Letter from the Chair
  • Power Lunches in the Eastern Roman Empire
  • Poem by Anne Carson
  • Classics and the Cinema
  • Pallas Lecture
  • The Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS) 
  • Upcoming Department Events
  • Email Us!