North American Scholar

BASSETT, Samuel Eliot

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1873-08-11
  • Born City: Wilton
  • Born State/Country: CT
  • Parents: Benjamin Franklin, a physician, & Mary Louisa Brush B.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1936-12-21
  • Death City: Burlington
  • Death State/Country: VT
  • Married: Bertha May Raymond, 18 June 1903.
  • Education:

    B.A. Yale, 1898; study at ASCSA, Berlin, & Freiburg, 1898-1901; fellow, ASCSA, 1901-2; Ph.D. Yale, 1905.

  • Professional Experience:

    Prof. Gk., U. Vermont, 1905-36; pres. APA, 1923-4; vis. prof. ASCSA, 1931-2; invited Sather Lecturer, 1936-7.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Bucolic Diaeresis in Homer" (Yale, 1905); published as "Notes on the Bucolic Diaeresis," TAPA 36 (1905) 111-24.

  • Publications:

    "The Suitors of Penelope," TAPA 49 (1910) 41-52; "The Hephthemimeral Caesura in Greek Hexameter Poetry," TAPA 48 (1917) 85-110; "The Theory of the Homeric Caesura according to the Extant Remains of the Ancient Doctrine," AJP 40 (1919) 343-72; "Versus Tetracolos," CP 14 (1919) 216-33; "BovkoXlkop," CP 15 (1920) 54-60; "The Function of the Homeric Simile," TAPA 52^1921) 132-47; "The Three Threads of the Plot of the Iliad," TAPA 53 (1922) 52-62; "Hector's Fault in Homer," TAPA 54 (1923) 117-27; "The Second Necyia Again," AJP 44 (1923) 44-52; "The Proems of the Iliad and the Odyssey," ibid., 339-48; "The Laocoon Episode in Quintus Smyrnaeus," AJP 46 (1925) 243-52; "The So-Called Emphatic Position of the Runover Word in the Homeric Hexameter," TAPA 57 (1926) 116-48; "The Single Combat between Hector and Aias," AJP 48 (1927) 148-56; "The Pursuit of Hector," TAPA 61 (1930) 130-49; "The Place and Date of the First Performance of the Persians of Timotheus," CP 26 (1931) 153-65; "The Omission of the Vocative in Homeric Speeches," AJP 55 (1934) 140-52; "On Plato, esp. 618C," AJP 56 (1935) 50-3; The Poetry of Homer, Sather Lectures 15 (Berkeley, 1938).

  • Notes:

    Bassett was greatly influenced by the discipline and character of his teacher at Wilton Academy, Edward Olmstead. After taking four years to recover from a bout of pneumonia that struck him at age 16, he entered Yale determined to be a Greek professor. There he was greatly influenced and encouraged in the study of Homer by Thomas Day Seymour who directed his dissertation. Bassett became a leading Homerist, contributing over 100 articles to American and English classical periodicals, many devoted to the study of style and meter developed in his dissertation, but others arose from his early love of archaeology nourished during his European tour as Soldiers Traveling Fellow in 1900. He wrote an important article that corrected Wilamowitz's later dating of Timotheus' Persians. Bassett's date was accepted by Maas in RE 6:1232, and T. B. L. Webster, Euripides, 18, n. 25. Bassett was plagued by ill health for most of his career, suffering typhoid fever in 1907-8, and a chronic illness that struck him in 1915 and rendered him an invalid for the rest of his life. Nevertheless he served as president of the APA and wrote most of his Homeric studies in this period. He died the week before he was to deliver his Sather Lectures at Berkeley.

  • Sources:

    NatCAB 28:217-8; William Lyon Phelps, Autobiography with Letters (New York, 1939).

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.