North American Scholar

DAITZ, Stephen Grant

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1926-08-16
  • Born City: New York
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2014-06-19
  • Death City: New York
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Mimi Segal, 2 June 1967
  • Education:

    B.A. Yale, 1947; M.A., 1948; Dipl.. Sorbonne, 1950; Ph.D. Harvard, 1953; 

  • Professional Experience:

    Lector. English, Sorbonne, 1949-50; insert, classics, Brooklyn College, 1953-6; NYU, 1956-7; asso. prof. 1957-72; prof. CUNY, 1972-91; Chair dept. of classics, 1973-91; vis. prof. Greek, U. Paris Nanterre, 1971-3, 1979-80.

  • Dissertation:

    "The 'De Chersoneso' and the 'Philippica Quarta' of Demosthenes: The Texts and Their Relationship" (Harvard, 1953); HSCP 61 (1953) 164-9; The Relationship of the De Chersoneso and the Philippica Quarta of Demosthenes," CP 52 (1957) 145-62.

  • Notes:

    Stephen Daitz had twin passions for classics and music that combined to develop an interest in the pronunciation of Greek and Latin, an interest to which he devoted the bulk of his professional life.  His early interest in drama led him to edit a Teubner text of the Hecuba and the Jerusalem Palimpsest of Euripides. In composing his text he naturally confronted questions of staging and metrics, which, spurred by his ear for music, led him to the root issue of any language study: how was it pronounced? By 1978 he had begun to devote himself to publishing, lecturing, and reciting Greek and Latin according to what he called the “restored pronunciation.” He backed up his published theories with over 70 hours of recordings, made over a 20-year period (1978-1998) of important works, the entire Iliad and Odyssey, for example, Aristophanes’ Birds, his beloved Hecuba, Plato’sApology, Phaedo, and Crito, and various selections from other works in a series he called “The Living Voice of Greek Literature,” nearly all of them reprinted in digital form by Bolchazy-Carducci publishers.  He gave 99 recitals of ancient works worldwide (often including workshops). When the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its seven galleries for Greek Art of the 6th through the 4thcenturies BCE, Daitz was invited to read at a public reception selections from Homer, Mimnermus, Xenophanes, Archilochus, Alcman, Sappho, Stesichorus, Timotheos, Alcaeus, Anakreon, Simonides, Pindar, and the dramatists. He was frequently invited to lecture and recite at scholarly gatherings as far afield as Australia and Argentina. He proselytized for his theories, particularly against the traditional British pronunciations, recorded in the early 1960s by J.F.C. Richards of Columbia for Folkways Records. Regular Saturday-morning gatherings of students and colleagues at his Riverside Drive apartment to read Homer aloud led Daitz to found the Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature, which regularly met at meetings of the APA/SCS and continues to flourish after his death. Daitz loved the French and their language, which he spoke at home and taught his children. His two stints at the École Normale Supérieure led to the establishment of the Théâtre Demodocos, a Paris-based company specializing in productions of ancient drama in both the original and French.

    An additional accomplishment in these years in France was a climb to the summit of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, a crowning achievement for an outdoorsman who spent 45 summers hiking in the White Mountains with family and friends near his camp on Great East Lake in Acton, Maine.

  • Sources:

    NYTimes (7 July 2014); DAS 8, 3: 114-5

  • Author: Ward Briggs