North American Scholar
FELTON, Cornelius Conway
A.B. Harvard, 1827; LL.D., Amherst, 1848; Yale, 1860.
- Professional Experience:
Tchr. Geneseo, NY, 1827-9; Lat. tutor Harvard, 1829-30; Gk. tutor, 1830-2; prof. Gk., 1832-4; Eliot prof. Gk., 1834-60; pres., 1860-2.
A Lecture on the Classical Learning (Boston, 1831); Discourse Pronounced at the Inauguration of the Author as Eliot Professor of Greek Literature (Cambridge, 1834); Greek Reader (Hartford, 1840; 6th ed., 1854); W. Menzell, German Literature (trans.) (Boston, 1840); The Clouds of Aristophanes (Cambridge, 1841; 7th ed. rev. by W. W. Goodwin, Boston, 1877); Classical Studies: Essays on Ancient Literature and Art with the Biography and Correspondence of Eminent Philologians, with Barnas Sears and B. B. Edwards (Boston, 1843); The Iliad of Homer (Boston, 1844); The Agamemnon of Aeschylus (Boston, 1847); Aristophanes. Birds (Cambridge, 1849); Selections from the Greek Historians Arranged in the Order of Events (Cambridge, 1852); Eclogae Aristophanicae (London, 1852); Selections from the Greek Historians, with notes by O. M. Fernald (Boston, 1855; 7th ed., 1878); Selections from Modern Greek Writers (Cambridge, 1855); The Panegyricus of Isocrates, 3d ed. (Boston, 1862); Greece: Ancient and Modern (Boston, 1867); Familiar Letters from Europe (Boston, 1865).
Among the American classicists of the generation after the failed efforts of Edward Everett, George Bancroft, and Joseph Cogswell to bring German scholarship and standards to America, and before the towering figure of Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, Cornelius Felton was the most important and distinguished scholar and pioneer. Eliot Professor of Greek Literature at age 27, without formal graduate training, he strove to break through the provincialism, traditionalism, and limitations of American classical learning and education, inaugurating new methods, values, rationale for integrated study and appreciation of classical antiquity. Felton assimilated and sought to transmit German scholarship and the ideals of Altertumswissenschaft as a source of intellectual inspiration. A self-taught Hellenist and committed philhellenist, he was among the first to edit Greek authors for American college students and to broadcast his love of Greek culture to the general public in lectures and publications. Resisting the materialism and dynamism of American culture, he cultivated an image of classical culture that was a romanticized idealization infused with a strong social and political conservatism. A devoted son of Harvard and its president for two years, he was a charismatic teacher and guide to a generation of Harvard men.
H. Barnard, “Cornelius Conway Felton,” AJE 10 (1861) 265-96; Boston Daily Advertiser (28 Feb., 16 July 1862); Ephraim Emerton, DAB 6:317-18; W. W. Goodwin, “Address on C. C. Felton,” Proc. Camb. Hist. Soc. 2 (1907) 117-30; G. S. Hilliard, “Memoir of Mr. Felton,” Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc. 10 (1867-69) 352-68; NatCAB 6:419-20; PAAAS 6 (1862-65) 7-11; A. P. Peabody, Sermon on the Death of Cornelius Conway Felton (Cambridge, 1862); idem, Harvard Reminiscences (Boston, 1888); WhAmH 247; D. Wiesen, “Cornelius Felton and the Flowering of Classics in New England,” CO 59 (1982) 41-44; T. D. Woolsey, Eulogy of Cornelius Conway Felton (Washington, D.C., 1862).
- Author: Meyer Reinhold