North American Scholar

BADIAN, Ernst

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1925-08-08
  • Born City: Vienna
  • Born State/Country: Austria
  • Parents: Josef, a bank clerk, and Salka (Sally) Horinger B
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2011-02-01
  • Death City: Boston
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Married: Nathlie A. Wimsett, 19 January 1950
  • Education:

    B.A. Canterbury College (Christchurch) University of New Zealand, 1944; M.A. (French), 1945; M.A. (Latin), 1946; B.A. (first class) Oxford, 1950; M.A., 1954; D.Phil., 1956; Litt.D. Victoria University, Wellington, NZ, 1962; D.Litt. (hon.) Macquarie University, 1993; University of Canterbury (NZ), 1999.

  • Professional Experience:

    Junior lecturer in classics, Victoria, University (NZ), 1947-48; asst. lecturer classics & ancient history, University of Sheffield, 1952-54; lecturer in classics, University of Durham, 1954-65; prof. ancient history, University of Leeds, 1965-69; vis. prof. University of South Africa (Pretoria), 1965; vis. prof. State University of New York, Buffalo, 1967-8; prof. classics & ancient history, 1969-71; professor of history, Harvard, 1971-73; prof. history & classics, 1973-82; John Moors Cabot Professor of History, 1982-98; visiting professor at Universities of Colorado, Oregon, Washington, South Africa, Heidelberg, Tel-Aviv, Western Australia, UCLA, fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 1974; core. memo. Austrian Academy of Sciences, 1975; foreign member, Finnish Academy of Sciences, 1975; Sather Professor, University of California, Berkeley, 1976; vis. memb., Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, fall 1980, fall 1992; core. memo., German Archaeological Institute, 1981; National Humanities Center, 1988; Komission für Alte Geschichte, Munich, May 1989; ACLS Fellow 1972-73, 1982-83; Leverhulme Fellow (England), 1973; Guggenheim Fellow, 1984; honorary fellow University College, Oxford; D.Litt, Macquarie U. (Australia), 1993; Canterbury U., 1999; Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, 1999.

  • Notes:

    Ernst Badian was a leading ancient historian of the post-World War II era. After his Jewish family in early 1939 fled Nazi persecution in Vienna, Badian was educated in New Zealand and Oxford. He held academic positions at the universities of Sheffield (1952-1954), Durham (1954-1965), Leeds (1965-1969), Buffalo (1969-1971), and Harvard (from 1971 until retirement in 1998). Badian’s publications—about a dozen authored or edited books, and some 200 articles in journals or composite volumes—treated an array of detailed topics in both Greek and Roman history. Badian is particularly recognized for his scholarship on Alexander the Great, the organizing principles of Republican Roman domination of Italy and the Mediterranean, and the interconnections of the Greek and Persian worlds, as well as for his high degree of expertise in numismatics and epigraphy.

    In 1941 Badian entered Canterbury College (Christchurch) of the University of New Zealand, where he received the degrees of BA in Classics (1944), and MA in French (1945) and Latin (1946). After a year teaching at Victoria University of Wellington, Badian left for University College, Oxford, to complete the undergraduate “Greats” course (i.e., philosophy and ancient history) in 1950. In 1956 Badian earned a D.Phil from Oxford, under the supervision of (Sir) Ronald Syme. Badian’s dissertation, which forcefully demonstrated how the Romans of the Republic used the mechanisms of the patron-client relationship as an instrument of empire, was published in 1958 as Foreign Clientelae (264-70 BC).

    When appointed Professor of Ancient History at Leeds in 1965, Badian had written almost sixty published articles and review-discussions, many characterized for their sharp criticisms of authorities both ancient and modern. These pieces encompassed the political history of Republican Rome as well as the era of Alexander the Great (for whose study he introduced a new, rigorous model) and his Hellenistic successors. Moreover Badian had started what would be a long series of contributions on the writing of history, examining fragmentary Roman historians of the middle Republic; also Polybius, Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus; and then historiography from the Renaissance through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Later in his career he turned his attention also to Herodotus, Thucydides, and Demosthenes.

    Once at Harvard, Badian was instrumental in organizing (1974) and maintaining the Association of Ancient Historians (for North America). In 1976 he founded, and then until 2001 both edited and published the American Journal of Ancient History. He gained numerous academic distinctions, including a Sather Lectureship at University of California, Berkeley (1976) and a Martin Lectureship at Oberlin College (1979), though he never published the results. In 2000 Badian gave to Rutgers University his large collection of Roman Republican coins, accompanied by his extensive notes, specifically for teaching purposes.

  • Sources:

    WhAm (2002) 208; J. Negri, Boston Globe (23 May 2011); Harvard Gazette (14 February 2011).

    FESTSCHRIFT: Transitions to Empire: Essays in Greco-Roman History, 360-146 BC, in Honor of E. Badian, ed. E. Harris & R. Wallace (Norman, OK, 1996).
    PAPERS: Dept. of Classics, Rutgers U.
  • Author: T. Corey Brennan