North American Scholar

DAWSON, Christopher Mounsey

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1908-04-20
  • Born City: Sunderland
  • Born State/Country: England
  • Parents: Christopher Mowbray & Eugenie Mary Anne Mounsey D.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1972-04-27
  • Death City: New Haven
  • Death State/Country: CT
  • Married: Marjorie Elliott Morse, 29 June 1933.
  • Education:

    B.A. Emmanuel Coll. Cambridge, 1929; diploma class, arch., 1930; Ph.D. Yale, 1941.

  • Professional Experience:

    Asst. prof, class. Acadia U. (NS), 1930-8; instr. to prof. Gk. Yale, 1941-52; Talcott prof. Gk. 1952-72; Medaglia di benemerenza, 1948; Guggenheim fell., 1957.

  • Dissertation:

    “Landscape Painting in Pompeii” (Yale, 1941).

  • Publications:

    Romano-Campanian Mythological Landscape Painting, YCS 9 (1944); Letters of Alessandro Malaspina (1790-1791) (trans.), ed. W. I. Morse (Boston, 1944); “An Alexandrian Prototype of Marathus?,” AJP 67 (1946) 1-15; “Some Epigrams by Leonidas of Tarentum,” AJP 71 (1950) 271-84; “The Iambi of Callimachus: A Hellenistic Poet's Experimental Laboratory,” YCS 11 (1950) 1-168; “Postscript to Yale Classical Studies, Vol. IX,” YCS 11 (1950) 297-303; “Notes on the Final Scene of Prometheus Vinctus,” CP 46 (1951) 237-9; Σπουδαιογέλοιον. Random Thoughts on Occasional Poems,” YCS 19 (1966) 37-76; Aeschylus, Seven against Thebes (trans.) (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1970); Studies in Latin Poetry, ed. with Thomas Cole, YCS 21 (1969).

  • Notes:

    Christopher Dawson began the study of Latin at age 10 and was committed to Classics by the age of 14. At Cambridge he majored in Ancient History and took a degree in archaeology the year after graduation. He gained experience during a travel fellowship in Greece, but found jobs in England to be rare. Following his stint at Acadia, he entered Yale in 1938 for graduate study, after which he joined the faculty.  Since Dawson chose his dissertation topic with the help of his director, Rostovtzeff, it was bound to deal with some aspect of material culture. But the task Dawson imposed on himself, in dealing with south Italian landscape painters, was their use of myths treated by the Hellenistic poets—who became his major scholarly preoccupation. In a department suspicious of mere literary taste, Dawson was almost shamefaced, at times, about what interested him most in Callimachus and Theocritus—the passion and music trapped in their “artificial forms.” In class, his comments on the sound effects of Hellenistic poetry could resemble Edith Sitwell's remarks on the musical lines of Pope.

  • Sources:

    DAS 1969:91; WhWh 1968-9:362.

  • Author: Garry Wills