North American Scholar

GOULD, Thomas Fauss

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1927-07-15
  • Born City: East Liverpool
  • Born State/Country: OH
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1995-05-13
  • Death City: Branford
  • Death State/Country: CT
  • Education:

    A.B., Cornell; M.A., Ph.D., 1954.

  • Professional Experience:

     Electronics technician, U.S. Navy, 1944-46; Washington University (St. Louis) Amherst, U. Texas, Austin, Yale 1968-94; dir. Undergrad. Studies, 1972-94.

  • Dissertation:

    “Plato and Democritus” (Cornell, 1954).

  • Notes:

    Tom was born in Ohio but spent most of his childhood in Poland. Following service in the U.S. Navy, he earned bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees at Cornell. He went on to teach classics at Washington University in St. Louis, Amherst, and the University of Texas at Austin. While in Austin, Tom was part of a group of classicists (the “Texas Cowboys”) associ­ated with Arion, the field's only avant-garde literary journal. He was also active on the other side of the Atlantic: he served as Visiting Fellow at St. Andrews in 1961-62 and was long associated with Peterhouse, Cambridge.Tom first came to Yale as a visitor in 1968; several years later he became a permanent member of the faculty. He served as Director of Undergraduate Studies from the early 70's until the academic year just past, with breaks only for leaves of absence, a tenure in that post that probably sets the Yale College record.His research and teaching centered on ancient philosophy, especially Plato, and Greek tragedy. His pub­lications include Platonic Love, derived from his lectures at St. Andrews, a translation (with commentary) of the OT, and most recently The Ancient Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy. He was famous among generations of students for his immensely popular courses on mythology and trag­edy, and for his devotion to the teaching of elementary Greek, a course assignment he eagerly took on year after year, even as a full professor. Tom will be remembered for his steadfast loyalty to his friends and students, his vigorously expressed views on politics, music, and especially religion, and his original contributions to Hellenic studies. For the late classicist Thomas Gould, who taught my introduction to ancient philosophy, the idea was atheism; he was as desperate to save us from Christianity as Wolterstorff was to follow its truth to distant corners. Gould once handed out a copy of his unpublished paper "The Logical Superiority of Atheism to Agnosticism" -- the title gives one a sense of how powerful was his allergy to religion. In the last conversation I had with Gould, he remarked how happy he was that his fellow classicist Allan Bloom had died; Gould loathed the philosophy of Leo Strauss, and was always cheered by the death of one of Strauss's followers.

  • Sources:

    APA Newsletter (August 1995) 19; NYTimes (3 June 1995) 11.

  • Author: Victor Bers