AFRICA, Thomas Wilson

Date of Birth
Born City
Portland
Born State/Country
OR
Parents
Charles Edward & Leah M. Wilson A.
Date of Death
Death City
Estes Park
Death State/Country
CO
Married
Ursula Helga Jung, 12 January 1952; Sandra J. Peacock, 26 December 1988
EDUCATION

A.B. UCLA, 1956; M.A. 1957; Ph.D., 1959

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Staff member, U. of California, Santa Barbara, 1959-60; LSU, 1960-1; U. of Southern California, 1961-7; prof. history, 1967-9; prof. history, SUNY Binghamton (now Binghamton University), 1969-95.  

DISSERTATION

"Phylarchus of Athens: A Study in Tragic History" (UCLA, 1959).

PUBLICATIONS

“Phylarchus and the Gods. The Religious Views of a Hellenistic Historian,” Phoenix 14 (1960) 222-7; “Phylarchus, Toynbee, and the Spartan Myth,” JHI 21 (1960) 266-72; Phylarchus and the Spartan Revolution, U. of California Publ. in Hist. 68 (Berkeley & Los Angeles: U. of California Press, 1961). REVS: AC XXXI 1962 461-462 Lévêque | CR XII 1962 315 Walbank | CJ LVIII 1962 138 Evans | RBPh XL 1962 1036 Frankfort | REA LXIV 1962 175-176 Ollier | REG LXXV 1962 259-262 Le Roy | JHS LXXXIII 1963 194 McDonald | P & I V 1963 247-249 Rossi | RFIC XLI 1963 359-363 Gabba | AHR LXVIII 1962-1963 178 Roebuck | Mnemosyne XVII 1964 409-411 Erasmus; “The Opium Addiction of Marcus Aurelius,” JHI 22 (1961) 97-102; “Copernicus' Relation to Aristarchus and Pythagoras,” Isis 52 (1961) 403-9; “A Reply to Prof. Rosen,” Isis 53 (1962) 509; “Ephorus and Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 1610,” AJP 83 (1962) 86-89; Rome of the Caesars (Chichester: Wiley, 1965). REVS: AHR LXXI 1966 1300 Rogers | CJ LXI 1966 373-374 Kramer | History LI 1966 339-340 Dorey | Vergilius Nᵒ 12 1966 50 Evans | CW LIX 1966 164 Babcock | Phoenix XX 1966 356 Jones | AJPh LXXXVIII 1967 254-255 Drews ; TG LXXX 1967 511-513 Brink; Science and the State in Greece and Rome (Chichester: Wiley, 1968). REVS: CW LXII 1968 29 Stannard | AHR LXXIV 1968 116 Stahl | Janus LV 1968 78-80 Bruins | TG LXXXI 1968 227-229 Pleket | AC XXXVII 1968 747 Byl | CP LXIV 1969 67 Oost | CR XIX 1969 360-365 Dicks | RH XCIII 1969 245 Will | REA LXXI 1969 132-133 Vidal-Naquet | RBPh XLVII 1969 626 Lejeune | Mnemosyne XXIV 1971 307-308 Marcelis | Lychnos 1969-1970 427 Ambjörnsson | History LV 1970 90 Sainte Croix; “Cleomenes III and the Helots,” CSCA 1 (1968) 1-11; The Ancient World (Boston: Houghton, 1969). REVS: CW LXIII 1969 126 Bowersock | CJ LXV 1970 370-372 Rexine; “The One-Eyed Man against Rome. An Exercise in Euhemerism,” Historia 19 (1970) 528-38; “Urban Violence in Imperial Rome,” JIH 2 (1971) 3-21; “Archimedes through the Looking-Glass,” CW 68 (1975) 305-8; The Immense Majesty. A History of Rome and the Roman Empire (New York: Crowell, 1974). REVS: CW LXIX 1975 87-89 Hammond; “The Mask of an Assassin. A Psycho-Historical Study of M. Junius Brutus,” JIH 8 (1978) 599-626; “Psychohistory, Ancient History, and Freud. The Descent into Avernus,” Arethusa 12 (1979) 5-33; “Social History and Antiquity,’ in Panhellenica. Essays in Ancient History and Historiography in Honor of Truesdale S. Brown, ed. S. M. Burstein & L.A. Okin (Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1980) 191-203; “Worms and the Death of Kings. A Cautionary Note on Disease and History,” CA 1 (1982) 1-17; “Homosexuals in Greek History,” Journal of Psychohistory 9 (1982) 401-20; "The Final Vision of Arnold Toynbee," Historical Reflections-reflexions historiques 10, 2 ( (1983) 221-8; "The Hellenistic Stoa: Political Thought and Action," with Andrew Erskine, AHR 96, 5 (1991) 1514-15; “Adam Smith, The Wicked Knight, and the Use of Anecdotes,” G&R 42,1 (1995) 70-5.

NOTES

Thomas W. Africa was a well-respected historian of ancient Rome and an inspiring teacher. His education was interrupted by seven years’ service in the Army in Korea and Germany, during which time he rose to the rank of Master Sergeant. When he arrived at Binghamton, he was the first faculty member in the field of ancient history. His most notable works are his study of Brutus, The Mark of an Assassin, and one-volume survey of Roman history, The Immense Majesty, which Mason Hammond called “readable, balanced, and scholarly,” showed his proclivity for intellectual over political history. His textbook, The Ancient World covers the Sumerians to the fall of Rome and called by Glen Bowersock “well proportioned, judicious, and up-to-date.” With statues of two black crows on either side of his seminar table, he cajoled, lectured, and inspired students with his deep knowledge and rich humor. One of his students, Tracy Mitrano, wrote, “He was an excellent teacher…not so much in charismatic performance per se…but in conveying to students how to read deeply by the probing analyses in which he instructed us to think.”  He tended to concentrate in class and in his work on the role of distinctive personalities rather than the flow of events. Indeed his Rome of the Caesars, in a series devoted to great cities at crucial times in their histories, devotes 11 of its 12 chapters to biographical sketches of individuals. He was a progressive chair of his department and encouraged women’s studies as well as other new approaches to history. In class, in his publications, or in his conversation, the depth and breadth of his learning was apparent. In the words of his colleague Gerald Kadish, Africa was “one of the strongest intellects the history department has ever had.”

SOURCES

WhAmEast (1974-5) 7; DAS 10:1, 4; Tracy Mitrano, "Thomas W. Africa: A Professor Who Shapes Lives," Inside Higher Education (March 6, 2016).

AUTHOR
Ward Briggs