North American Scholar

DEWITT, Norman Wentworth

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1876-09-18
  • Born City: Tweedside
  • Born State/Country: ON
  • Parents: Hiram & Margaret Conland D.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1958-09-20
  • Death City: Lincoln
  • Death State/Country: IL
  • Married: Katherine Ida Johnston, 26 Sept. 1906.
  • Education:

    B.A. Victoria College, U. Toronto, 1899; Ph.D. U. Chicago, 1906; additional study at Jena & ASCSR.

  • Professional Experience:

    Prof, class. Lincoln Coll. (Lincoln, IL), 1904-5; instr. class. Washington U. (St. Louis), 1905-7; prof, class. Miami (Oxford, OH), 1907-8; prof. Lat. Victoria Coll., U. Toronto, 1908-45; dean arts Victoria Coll., U. Toronto, 1924-8; actng. prof. Cornell, 1928-9; corr. fell. Royal Acad. Mantua; fell. Royal Soc. Can., 1925; pres. CAMWS, 1938-9; pres. APA, 1946-7.

  • Dissertation:

    “The Dido Episode in the Aeneid of Virgil” (Chicago, 1907); printed (Toronto, 1907).

  • Publications:

    “The Campaign of Epigram against M. Antonius in the Catalepton,” AJP 33 (1912) 317-23; “The Arrow of Acestes,” AJP 41 (1920) 369-78; “Virgil's Copyright,” CP 16 (1921) 338-44; “Virgil at Naples,” CP 17 (1922) 104-18; Virgil's Biographia Litteraria (Toronto, London & New York, 1923); “Aeneid IV, More Feriae,” AJP 45 (1924) 176-8; “Litigation in the Forum in Cicero's Time,” CP 21 (1926) 218-24; Ancient History for High Schools (Toronto, 1927; rev. ed., 1933); A Brief World History (Toronto, 1934); “Parresiastic Poems of Horace,” CP 30 (1935) 312-8; “The Epicurean Doctrine of Gratitude,” AJP 58 (1937) 320-8; “Epicurean Kinetics,” CP 36 (1941) 365-70; Demosthenes. Funeral Speech, Erotic Essay, Exordia and Letters, trans, with Norman Johnston DeWitt, LCL (Cambridge & London, 1949); Epicurus and His Philosophy (Minneapolis, 1954); St. Paul and Epicurus (Minneapolis & Toronto, 1954); “Vesta Unveiled,” Studies Ullman (1960) 48-54.

  • Notes:

    DeWitt was for many years a mainstay of classical education in Canada. His reputation as a Vergilian was founded on his dissertation and secured by his later book; the treatment of the Appendix in the latter earned him the sobriquet “the Verrall of American scholars,” as well as election to the Royal Academy of Mantua. His lifelong attachment to Epicurus is revealed in his last two books, in which he defended Epicurus from the charge of vulgar hedonism and sought to demonstrate the affinities of his thought with that of St. Paul. The extent of De Witt's influence as a teacher is attested by several generations of students and by his books for Ontario schools; in the second of these he strongly stressed the need for an internationalist perspective in history and current affairs, and in the former he developed his aphoristic definition of history as “the evolution of the unintended.”

  • Sources:

    CanWW 7:287; Globe and Mail (22 Sept. 1958) 35; MacDCB 189; NYTimes (22 Sept. 1958) 31; H. Bennett, Phoenix 12 (1958) 139-40; PRSCAA (1963) 79-81; WhNAA 427.

  • Author: Robert L. Fowler