North American Scholar
BAGNANI, Gilbert Forrest
D. Litt, U. Rome, 1921; fell., Italian Sch. Arch. (Athens), 1921-4; LL.D. Trent U. (Peterborough, Ont.) 1971.
- Professional Experience:
Inspector, hist, monuments in Latium, 1925-9; field dir. Royal Italian Arch, mission to Egypt (Tebtunis), 1929-37; prof, class. Univ. Coll. U. Toronto, 1945-65; prof, anc. hist. Trent U., 1965-75; vice-pres. AIA, 1951-4; fell. Royal Soc. Can., 1959.
Giuseppe Lugli, The Classical Monuments of Rome and Its Vicinity (trans.) (Rome, 1929); The Roman Campagna and its Treasures (London, 1929); Rome and the Papacy: An Essay on the Relations between Church and State (London & New York, 1929); The Pantheon (New York, 1929); Giuseppe Lugli, Horace's Sabine Farm (trans.) (Rome, 1930); "And Passing Rich . . . ," Studies Norwood, 218-23; Arbiter of Elegance: A Study of the Life and Works of C. Petronius (Toronto, 1954); "The House of Trimalchio," AJP 75 (1953) 16-39; "Encolpius Gladiator Obscenus," CP 51 (1956) 24-6; "Petroniana," Studies Ullman 1:229-40.
Bagnani was a gentleman-scholar of Renaissance proportions. Born in Italy of Italian and Canadian parents, educated in Rome and London, he was proficient in all the languages of Europe and some of the Near and Middle East. His early professional life was in archaeology; as director of an Italian mission at Tebtunis in Egypt, he unearthed a large collection of papyri including part of the city's archives and extensive texts of Cal-limachus. In the 30s he and his wife moved to Canada to raise Herefords. When in 1945 he was appointed to the University of Toronto his impact on the Canadian academic scene was described as "electrifying"; no one, colleague or student, was left unaffected by him. Among ancient historians he was distinguished by his ability to grasp the practical matters of everyday life concealed in ancient texts—practical matters that frequently escape more bookish colleagues. Petronius was a natural object of study for him; he was able to enter the soul of the arbiter because it was so much his own. He was a founding member of the Oriental Club of Toronto, to which he spoke regularly on topics in Arabic and Egyptian history. When he retired from Toronto in 1965 he was appointed professor of ancient history at the newly founded Trent University, where he taught for a further ten years. Trent University honored him with an honorary degree and it now houses the Bagnani archives.
CanWW 1970; PRSC 4.1 (1985) 56-8; WhWh 1980:143; Leonard Woodbury, Collected Writings (Atlanta, 1991) 613-9.
- Author: Bonnie MacLachlan