North American Scholar

FINK, Robert Orwill

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1905-11-04
  • Born City: Geneva
  • Born State/Country: IN
  • Parents: Orwill Clarkson and Carlista Andrews F.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1988-12-17
  • Death City: Mount Vernon
  • Death State/Country: OH
  • Married: Ruth Kuersteiner, 11 June 1935.
  • Education:

    A.B. Indiana U., 1930; M.A. Cornell, 1931; Ph.D. Yale, 1934.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. class. Yale, 1934-41; asst. prof, class. Russell Sage Coll. Women, 1941-2; asst. prof, to assoc. prof, class. Beloit Coll., 1942-6; assoc. prof, to prof, class. Kenyon Coll. 1946-66; Eumon N. Dempsey prof, class., 1958-66; prof, class. SUNY, Albany, 1966-76; Fulbright fell., Italy, 1956-7; ACLS res. fell., 1963-4.

  • Dissertation:

    “Roman Military Accounts and Records” (Yale, 1934).

  • Publications:

    “Jerash in the First Century A.D.,” JRS 23 (1933) 109-24; “Lucius Seius Caesar, Socer Augusti,” AJP 60 (1939) 326-32; The Feriale Duranum, with A. S. Hoey & W. F. Snyder (New Haven, 1940); “The Sponsalia of a Classiarius: A Reinterpretation of P. Mich. Inv. 4703,” TAPA 72 (1941) 109-24; “Mommsen's Pridianum: B.G.U., 696,” AJP 63 (1942) 61-71; “A Fragment of a Roman Military Papyrus at Princeton,” TAPA 76 (1945) 271-8; “The Cohors XX Palmyrenorum, Cohors Equitata Miliaria,” TAPA 78 (1947) 159-70; “Infinitives Don't Have Tense,” CJ 48 (1952-3) 34-6; “Centuria Rufi, Centuria Rufiana, and the Ranking of Centuries,” TAPA 84 (1953) 210-5; The Excavation at Dura-Europas, Final Report V: The Parchments and Papyri, with C. B. Welles & J. F. Gilliam (New Haven, 1959); “Catullus, 64, 109,” AJP 84 (1963) 72-4; “M. Aurelius Atho Marcellus,” AJP 88 (1967) 84-5; “A Long Vowel before Final in Latin?,” AJP 90 (1969) 444-52; Roman Military Records on Papyrus, APA Monogr. 26 (Cleveland, 1971).

  • Notes:

    Robert O. Fink, a student of Michael Rostovtzeff at Yale University, was an internationally known papyrologist, but he was also known to his own students as a brilliant and dedicated teacher. His range of expertise, from epigraphy and palaeography to Latin syntax, the Roman army, and Roman prose authors, was astounding and is well documented in a lengthy bibliography of books and articles. That he was able to convert this vast erudition into exciting learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students attests to his considerable teaching ability. Possessed of a wry humor, Fink loved puns and jokes, even when directed at himself. His unconscious habit of playing with his pocket watch and taking off his glasses while lecturing provided for more than one good-natured spoof. He was a generous mentor to many aspiring young classicists and he directed several dissertations at SUNY Albany. Through careful, thorough criticism he encouraged his advisees to approach their ideas in broader contexts and from different perspectives. Nor did he spare himself from criticism, for when a student found information which clarified or refuted his publications, he applauded the effort. Fink firmly believed that the evidence, not the person who located it, was the more important part of any scholarly endeavor.

  • Sources:

    APA Newsletter (Apr. 1989) 16; DAS 1978:149; WhWh 1976:1000.

  • Author: Natalie J. Woodall