All Scholars

EINARSON, Benedict Seneca

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  • Date of Birth: April 29, 1906
  • Born City: Chicago
  • Born State/Country: IL
  • Parents: Benedict, a physician & Johanna Marie Peterson E.
  • Date of Death: August 12, 1978
  • Death City: Chicago
  • Death State/Country: IL
  • Education:

    A.B. U. Chicago, 1926; A.M., 1927; Shorey Fell., 1931-32; Ph.D., 1932.

  • Dissertation:

    “Studies in Nemesius” (Chicago, 1932).

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Lat., U. Wisconsin, 1932-3; Sterling Fell. Yale, 1933; jr. fell., Harvard, 1934-7; instr. class. Harvard, 1936-9; instr. to prof. Gk. U. Chicago, 1940-78.

  • Publications:

    “On Certain Mathematical Terms in Aristotle's Logic,” AJP 57 (1936) 33-54, 151-72; “Aristotle's Protrepticus and the Structure of the Epinomis,” TAPA 67 (1936) 261-85; “Longinus” On the Sublime (Chicago, 1945); “The Manuscript Tradition of Plutarch Moralia 546A-612B,” with Phillip H. De Lacy, CP 46 (1951) 93-110; “A New Edition of the Epinomis,” CP 53 (1958) 91-7; “The Manuscript Tradition of Plutarch Moralia 523C-547F,” ibid., 217-33; Plutarch's Moralia vol. 7, trans, with Phillip H. De Lacy, LCL (Cambridge & London, 1959); vol. 14 (1967); “Notes on the Development of the Greek Alphabet,” CP 62 (1967) 1-24; Theophrastus De causis plantarum, vol. 1, trans, with G. K. K. Link, LCL (Cambridge & London, 1976), vols. 2 & 3 (1990).

  • Notes:

    Benedict Einarson, professor of Greek at the University of Chicago, stood out among the pupils and successors of Paul Shorey for his singular mastery of the language. Through Shorey he looked back to B. L. Gildersleeve. Indeed, Einarson was eulogized by W. M. Calder III as “the United States' most learned Hellenist.” His linguistic proficiency began with his Icelandic father and Swedish mother. He went on to learn other modern languages; but Greek and secondarily Latin were his chief studies. He also took up Hebrew and Syriac, which enabled him to account better than any predecessor for the details in the adaptation of the alphabet to Greek. Furthermore he acquired Armenian and Georgian to handle medieval translations of Greek texts. During the World War II, although exempted for reasons of health, he studied Chinese and Japanese.He came to know the Greek language so thoroughly that he could clarify its difficulties entirely by reference to other Greek phenomena. From the time of his doctoral thesis on the medical writer Nemesius of Emesa, he was an accomplished palaeographer. Subsequent research led him into papyri and inscriptions, too. But he was most remarkable for his coverage of Greek literature in the broadest sense—not just the well-known classics but the vast corpus of philosophy and science from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Thus he became an invaluable collaborator to several other researchers, and a mine of pertinent information and understanding to many more who consulted him. As a regular book reviewer and reader of manuscripts for CP, he unobtrusively did much for the improvement of scholarship. The output of his immense learning was rather modest, because he was inclined to revise his drafts again and again. A sizable part of his published work was collaborative.

  • Sources:

    W. M. Calder III, Gnomon 51 (1979) 207; WhAm 1974-5:898.

  • Author: Saul Levin