North American Scholar

BENEDICT, Coleman Hamilton

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1911-11-20
  • Born City: New York
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2005-04-20
  • Death City: New York
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Ethyle Wolfe, 1962
  • Education:

    B.A. Princeton, 1934; M.A. 1935; Ph.D., 1939.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. classics, U. Vermont, 1939-42; NYU, 1946-50; instr. to asso. prof. Greek & Latin, Columbia, 1950-75; prof. 1976-80.

  • Dissertation:

    "A History of Narbo" (Princeton, 1939); printed, (Princeton: Lancaster Press, 1941).

  • Publications:

    “The Romans in Southern Gaul,” AJP  (1942) 38-50;  “Herodotus Confirmed Once Again,” CJ 36 (1940) 168-9; The Olcott Collection of Ancient Coins (New York: Columbia University Library, 1959).

  • Notes:

    Coleman Benedict came from an old and distinguished New England family. One ancestor, Charles Chauncy (1592-1672), was the second president of Harvard (1654-1671). Another, Lemuel Coleman (1751-1824), was the first mayor of Bridgeport, CT. His grandfather, Coleman Benedict was a Wall Street broker who founded the firm Benedict, Drysdale & Co. His son Cleland inherited his seat on the New York Stock Exchange.  Cleland’s brother Lemuel Benedict (1840-1903), who also had a seat on the Exchange, is reputed to have ordered chef “Oscar of the Waldorf” in 1894 to create the dish known as “Eggs Benedict.” Coleman H. Benedict developed his love for Greek and Latin at the Riverdale Country School beginning in 1918. He graduated from Princeton cum laude, then after receiving the Ph.D., he began teaching at Western Reserve 1939-40, then at the University of Vermont before enlisting in the Army Counterintelligence Corps in 1942.  After serving as Technical Sergeant, was given a battlefield commission as Second Lieutenant in November 1944, for which he investigated potential sabotage and subversion in Britain, France, Germany, and Belgium.  He took part in the landing at Normandy, the Battle of St. Lô and the Battle of the Bulge. His team was assigned to protect Truman during the Potsdam conference. Returning to the academic world after his discharge as a first lieutenant in 1946, he devoted nearly three decades to Columbia, where he was Departmental Representative of Columbia College and its School of General Studies. Known to his friends as “Ben,” he was considered by colleagues and students as an energetic and widely learned teacher who inspired generations of Columbia students as an example of a learned, modest gentleman, who was conversant in 14 languages, from the classical and romance languages to Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Sanskrit and even Egyptian hieroglyphics. He was married for over 50 years to the classicist Ethyle Wolfe of Brooklyn College.

  • Sources:

    NYTimes 22 April 2005; DAS 8, 3:39; Matthew Santirocco, CW 98.4 (Summer 2005) 439-40.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.