North American Scholar

EPPS, Preston Herschel

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1888-04-26
  • Born City: Pittsylvania County
  • Born State/Country: VA
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1982-07-14
  • Death City: Chapel Hill
  • Death State/Country: NC
  • Married: Stella Pauline Wadsworth, 1916; Miriam Lois Rightmine, 23 June 1935.
  • Education:

    A.B. U. North Carolina, 1915; M.A. (English), 1917; Ph.D. U. Chicago, 1928.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchng. asst., U. North Carolina, 1915-16; Lat. & Gk. teacher, Boys High School (Atlanta), 1916-28; asst. princ. 1920-8; prof. anc. langs., Furman, 1928-38; assoc. prof, to prof Gk., U. North Carolina, 1938-55; Kenan prof. Gk., 1955-60.

  • Dissertation:

    “The Place of Sparta in Greek History and Civilization” (Chicago, 1929); abstr: Abstracts of theses, Humanistic ser., vii (1930) 419-22.

  • Publications:

    “Two Notes on English Classicism,” StudPhil 13 (1916) 184-96; “Fear in Spartan Character” CP 28 (1933) 12-29; The Poetics of Aristotle (trans.) (Chapel Hill, 1942, 1970); “Sophocles: Mere Conservative or True See-r” StudPhil 42 (1945) 427-39 = Studies in Language and Literature, ed. George Coffman (Chapel Hill, 1945): 49-61; “Aeschylus' Agamemnon” and “Plato's Crito” (trans.) in Greek Literature in Translation by G. Howe & G. A. Harrer, rev. Epps (New York, 1948): 299-333, 669-80; “Understanding Greek Tragedy” Univ. Extension Bulletin, “Lectures in Greek Tragedy” (Chapel Hill, 1953-4); “The Opinion of the Spartans since the Second Century B.C.,” Studies Ullman (1960) 35-47; Thoughts from the Greeks (Columbia, MO, 1969).

  • Notes:

    Preston Epps went to work in a tobacco factory at the age of 10 to help support his mother and sister, but subsequently worked his way through high school, college, and graduate school. A deeply religious man, he taught Sunday school and sang in the choir of Baptist churches throughout much of his life. In his life and teaching he sought a synthesis of Greek ideals, especially devotion to the truth as he saw it in the life of Socrates, and Christian virtues. Dean Rusk, Secretary of State in the administration of John F. Kennedy, had studied with Epps in Atlanta and later described him as having “had a greater influence on my life than any person I have ever known.”

  • Sources:

    DAS 1942: 249; Chapel Hill Newspaper (29 Apr. & 15 July 1982); A. C. Howell, The Kenan Professorships (Chapel Hill, 1956) 233-34; files of UNC-CH class. Department.

  • Author: George A. Kennedy