North American Scholar

HARSH, Philip Whaley

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1905-07-19
  • Born City: Nashville
  • Born State/Country: TN
  • Parents: Richard N., a physician, & Lou Hudson H.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1960-08-15
  • Death City: Stanford
  • Death State/Country: CA
  • Married: Virginia E. Werner, 12 June 1941; Elizabeth Usigli Etienne, 23 Sept. 1958.
  • Education:

    A.B. U. Chicago, 1928; A.M., 1930; Ph.D., 1933.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Gk. Allegheny Coll., 1930-1; fell. AAR, 1933-4; instr. Lat. Iowa State Teachers' Coll., 1934-5; instr. class. West Virginia U., 1935-6; asst. prof. Lat. U. Oklahoma, 1936-7; asst. prof, to prof, class. Stanford, 1937-60; head dept. class., 1953-8; vis. lctr. Harvard, 1946; fell. ACLS, 1959.

  • Dissertation:

    “Studies in Dramatic 'Preparation' in Roman Comedy” (Chicago, 1933); printed (Chicago, 1935).

  • Publications:

    Studies in Dramatic Preparation in Roman Comedy (Chicago, 1935); “The Origins of the insulae at Ostia,” MAAR 12 (1935) 7-66; “Certain Features of Technique Found in Both Greek and Roman Drama,” AJP 58 (1937) 282-93; A Handbook of Classical Drama (Stanford & London, 1944; repr. New York, 1960); “Aridum Argentum in Plautus, Rudens 726,” AJP 67 (1946) 70-2; Iambic Words and Regard for Accent in Plautus (Stanford, 1949); “Plato Symposium 194B and a Raised Position in the Theater,” CP 44 (1949) 116-7; “Penelope and Odysseus in Odyssey XIX,” AJP 71 (1950) 1-21; “Implicit and Explicit in the Oedipus Tyrannus,” AJP 79 (1958) 243-58; “Early Latin Metre and Prosody 1935-1955,” Lustrum 3 (1958) 215-50; An Anthology of Roman Drama (New York, 1960); “The Role of the Bow in the Philoctetes of Sophocles,” AJP 81 (1960) 408-14.

  • Notes:

    Harsh was America's foremost authority on Roman comedy before Duckworth. He is remembered chiefly for his Handbook, an attempt to encapsulate all that is known about the Greek and Roman stage in 500 pages. Written “for the modern reader unacquainted with ancient thought,” the book nevertheless makes concessions to Harsh's strengths as scholar and critic. There is thorough information on background, history, myth, and critical reception, all backed up with elaborate notes and bibliography. The action of the plays is not summarized, nor are the biographical notices of the authors of any length; style is not discussed in depth and the tragic choruses are only given cursory treatment. Harsh was clearly at home with analysis of technique rather than appreciation of literary qualities, but his Handbook is still of great value, though for Greek tragedy it has been overshadowed by Lesky's survey. Curiously, though his strength was Roman drama, he is weakest on Plautus and Terence. He served Stanford in the exciting period of Frankel, Raubitschek, and Pearson, and was succeeded as chair by Brooks Otis, shortly before his untimely death at 55.

  • Sources:

    NatCAB 48:482; WhAm 4:412.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.