North American Scholar

BROWN, Truesdell Sparhawk

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1906-03-21
  • Born City: Philadelphia
  • Born State/Country: PA
  • Parents: Carleton Fairchild & Emily Truesdell B.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1992-01-13
  • Death City: Houston
  • Death State/Country: TX
  • Married: Ruth Anna Edgar, 1924.
  • Education:

    Study at Haverford, 1922-3; A.B. Harvard, 1928; A.M., 1929; study at Innsbruck, 1932-3; Ph.D. Columbia, 1947.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. anc. hist. U. Colorado, 1929-32, 1933-7; instr. to asst. prof. U. Texas, 1940-7; tchr. Naval Flight Preparation Sch. (Austin, TX), 1942-4; lect. to prof. hist. UCLA, 1947-73; chair dept. hist., 1959-62; Fulbright fell. (Greece), 1950; Guggenheim fell. (England), 1954-5; joint sr. ed. with W. K. Pritchett, CSCA, 1967-70.

  • Dissertation:

    "Onesicritus: A Study in Hellenistic Historiography" (Columbia, 1949); printed: University of California Publications in History 39 (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1949); repr. (Millwood, NY, 1974); (Chicago, 1981).

  • Publications:

    "Euhemerus and the Historians," HThR 39 (1946) 259-74; "Hieronymus of Cardia," AHR 53 (1947) 684-96; "Callisthenes and Alexander," AJP 70 (1949) 225-48; "Clitarchus," AJP 71 (1950) 134-55; "Herodotus and His Profession," AHR 59 (1954) 829-43; "The Reliability of Megasthenes," AJP 76 (1955) 18-33; "The Merits and Weaknesses of Megasthenes," Phoenix 11 (1957) 12-24; Timaeus of Tauromenium, University of California Publications in History 55 (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1958; repr. Millwood, NY, 1980); "The Greek Sense of Time in History as Suggested by Their Accounts of Egypt," His-toria 11 (1962) 257-70; "Polybius* Account of Antiochus III," Phoenix 18 (1964) 124-36; Ancient Greece (New York, 1965); "Herodotus Speculates about Egypt," AJP 86 (1965) 60-76; "In Defense of Demosthenes xix, 228," AJP 88 (1967) 449-54; The Greek Historians (Lexington, MA, 1973); "Suggestions for a Vita of Ctesias of Cnidus," Historia 27 (1978) 1-19; "Herodotus' Portrait of Cambyses," Historia 31 (1982) 387-403; Herodotus: An Historian in Exile (chapters published seriatim in The Ancient World 17 (1988) 3-29, 65-107). For complete bibliography until 1980 see Panhellenica, 11-12.Festschrift: Panhellenica: Essays in Ancient History and Historiography in Honor of Truesdell S. Brown, ed. Stanley M. Burstein & Louis A. Okin (Lawrence, KS, 1980).Papers: Dept. Special Collections, University Research Library, UCLA.

  • Notes:

    Truesdell S. Brown was a distinguished teacher and scholar whose productive career spanned four decades. One word describes him—gentleman. Students, whether those enrolled in his popular lecture courses or his own graduate students, found him to be unfailingly gracious and supportive, always willing to listen and to share the accumulated knowledge of a lifetime of scholarship. He came from an old New England family—his ancestors were part of the first generation of Puritan settlement in Massachusetts—with a tradition of service as ministers and teachers. His grandfather was an early alumnus of Oberlin College and his father a pioneer in the study of Middle English literature in the United States and a distinguished scholar in his own right. Brown, however, found his own academic metier late, studying English as an undergraduate and only turning to the study of ancient history in graduate school under the guidance of W. S. Ferguson. He continued his studies under C. F. Lehmann-Haupt at Innsbruck in the early 1930s and completed his Ph.D. under W. L. Westermann in the late 1940s. He died at age 85 after a brief illness. He retained his enthusiasm for scholarship to the end, still writing and sharing his wealth of knowledge about Greek history and historiography on an informal basis with the ancient history students at the University of Houston during the last year of his life.Brown was one of a small group of scholars who kept the study of Hellenistic history alive in the United States in the two decades following World War II. Although the corpus of his published work is relatively small—four books, 35 articles and fewer than 20 reviews—it is of consistently high quality and characterized by an approach to the study of his favorite subject, Greek historiography, that was by the standards of his time unconventional. He eschewed both the Quellenforschung typical of the classical scholarship of his youth and grandiose theories of the nature of historiography in favor of a kind of literary biography intended to highlight the connection between a historian's individual life experiences, such as political exile or travel in foreign lands, and the manner in which he wrote history. The result was a vivid series of literary portraits of both major and minor Greek historians including figures as disparate as Herodotus and Euhemerus, that served a generation of scholars and students as standard treatments of their subjects and that anticipate the works of more recent scholars such as F. Millar, K. Sacks, and E. Gabba in their use of ancient historical works as evidence for their authors' engagement with the events of their own times instead of quarries for useful facts. At the end of his life he was planning just such a study of the historian Xenophon. His influence continues, however, in the works both of his own students—he was director or co-director of nine Ph.D. theses during his tenure at UCLA—and a new generation composed of their students.

  • Sources:

    "Carleton Brown," DAB Suppl. 3:108-10; WhWh 1980-1:453.

  • Author: Stanley Burstein