North American Scholar

GOODWIN, William Watson

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1831-05-09
  • Born City: Concord
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: Rev. Hersey Bradford, a Unitarian minister, & Lucretia Ann Watson G.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1912-06-16
  • Death City: Cambridge
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Married: Emily Jenks, ca. 1864; Ellen Chandler, 1882.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1851; study at Berlin & Bonn; Ph.D. Göttingen, 1855; LL.D. Amherst, 1881; Cambridge, 1883; Columbia, 1887; Edinburgh, 1890; Harvard, 1891; D.C.L. Oxford, 1890; LL.D. Chicago, 1901; Yale, 1901.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tutor Gk. & Lat. Harvard, 1856-7; tutor Gk., 1857-60; Eliot prof. Gk. lit., 1860-1901; overseer of univ., 1903-9; pres. APA, 1871-2; 1884-5; first dir. ASCSA, 1882-3; pres. A A AS, 1903-8.

  • Dissertation:

    “De Potentiae Veterum Gentium Maritimae Epochis apud Eusebium” (Göttingen, 1855).

  • Publications:

    Aristophanes, Clouds, ed. C. C. Felton, rev. Goodwin (Boston, 1858); Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb (Cambridge, 1859; Boston, 1860; rev. ed., 1889); Aristophanes, Birds, ed. C. C. Felton, rev. Goodwin (Boston, 1861); Isocrates, Panegyricus ed. C. C. Felton, 3d ed. rev. Goodwin (Boston, 1863); An Elementary Greek Grammar (Boston, 1870); Plutarch's Moralia, intro. Ralph Waldo Emerson, 5 vols. (Boston, 1870); “On the Aorist Subjunctive and Future Indicative with ὂπως and οὐ μή,” TAPA 1 (1870) 46-55; “On the Classification of Conditional Sentences in Greek Syntax,” TAPA 4 (1873) 60-79; “On 'Shall' and 'Should' in Protasis, and Their Greek Equivalents,” TAPA 7 (1876) 87-107; Greek Reader, with J. H. Allen (Boston, 1871); Selections from Xenophon and Herodotus (Boston, 1877); The First Four Books of Xenophon's Anabasis, with J. W. White (Boston, 1877); “On the Text and Interpretation of Certain Passages in the Agamemnon of Aeschylus,” TAPA 8 (1877) 69-86; “Δίκαι ἀπὸ συμβόλων and Δίκαι συμβόλαιαι,” AJP 1 (1880) 4-16; “The Relation of the Πρόεδροι to the Πρυτάνεις in the Athenian Senate,” TAPA 16 (1885) 165-75; “On the Origin of the Construction of οὐ μή with the Subjunctive and the Future Indicative,'' HSCP 1 (1890) 65-76; “On Some Disputed Points in the Construction of ἔδει, χρῆν, etc. with the Infinitive,” HSCP 1 (1890) 77-88; “Report of the Committee of Twelve on the Study of Greek,” TAPA 26 (1895) xxxii-xxxviii; “On the Extent of the Deliberative Construction in Relative Clauses in Greek,” HSCP 7 (1896) 1-12; “Report of the Committee of Twelve on the Study of Latin,” TAPA 27 (1896) li-lv; Demosthenes. On the Crown (Cambridge, 1901); Demosthenes. Against Midias (Cambridge, 1906); Aeschylus. Agamemnon (trans.) (Cambridge, 1906); “The Battle of Salamis,” HSCP 17 (1906) 75-101.

  • Notes:

    A distinguished Hellenist, Goodwin helped transform Harvard, under the presidency of Charles William Eliot, into a modern university. Goodwin's parents died while he was an infant and he was raised by his grandmother, Lucretia Burr Sturges Watson. His uncle, Benjamin Marston Watson, taught him his first Greek. A student of Felton (whom he succeeded in the Eliot chair) and Sophocles, he studied in Germany with F. W. Schneidewin and K. F. Hermann in the same years as Gildersleeve, Whitney, and his colleague George Martin Lane. Like two other early Eliot professors (Everett and Smyth), he took his Ph.D. from Göttingen. Five years after his return to Harvard, he was appointed Eliot Professor of Greek (at age 29) and held the chair from 1860 to 1901. Goodwin was an active scholar of great productivity and influence on both continents. He was a pioneer in the admission of women of advanced training to his seminars. His principal interests, besides Greek language and literature, were Greek philosophy and legal and constitutional history. President Eliot eulogized him as “a master of the Greek language and of the English; he was a model of the vigorous, high-minded happy scholar.” Living in an age of curricular change at Harvard, Goodwin opposed the reduction of the college term from four years to three, but he favored the reduction of sophomore requirements and increased electives. He also voted against compulsory Greek for sophomores while he opposed substituting for the nominal requirement of Greek in the general curriculum.Goodwin was the first American classicist to be highly regarded in Europe. Together with his contemporary Gildersleeve, he trained several generations of American students in German scientific methods and sent many of his best students to Germany for further work. Both men taught that grammar was merely an instrument that led to a greater understanding and appreciation of literature. Goodwin's great work, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, was written from an American perspective on the conflicting linguistic theories that divided the European classical community. He hewed neither to the Kant-inspired “metaphysical” grammar of Gottfried Hermann that reduced grammatical rules to a few deducible universals, nor to the developing school of comparative grammar which tended to ignore features that made an individual language unique. Instead Goodwin followed the objective method, assembling examples and offering precise analytical definitions. Though he called his book “an ephemeral production,” it was so clearly organized and carefully set forth that when he revised it 30 years after publication, it needed virtually no correction, only updating.His Greek Grammar was an expansion of his school grammar and remained in print 75 years after his death. Though Goodwin never matched the achievement of his first book, he influenced the classical world not only through his teaching but through his service as a founder of the American Philological Association and the Archaeological Institute of America and as first director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

  • Sources:

    Mary Reed Bobbitt, With Dearest Love to All: The Life and Letters of Lady Jebb (London, 1960), 178; Boston Transcript (17 June 1912); Charles William Eliot, William Watson Goodwin (Boston, 1913); Charles Burton Gulick, DAB 7:411-13; Harvard U. Minutes of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences (29 Oct. 1912); Lawrence S. Master, BDAE, 529-30; Clifford J. Moore, CJ 8 (1912-3) 1-4; NatCAB 6:422; NYTimes (17 June 1912) 9; Proc. Mass. Hist. Soc. 46 (Oct. 1912) 11-22; A. H. Sayce, Reminiscences (London, 1923), 218-9; Herbert Weir Smyth, CP 7 (1912) 396; idem, Harvard Graduates' Mag. 21 (Sept. 1912) 22-30; idem, PAAAS 52 (1917-8) 805-16; idem, PAPhS 52 (1913) iii-ix; WhAm 1:469.

  • Author: Meyer Reinhold / Ward W. Briggs, Jr.