North American Scholar

LAING, Gordon Jennings

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1869-10-16
  • Born City: London
  • Born State/Country: ON
  • Parents: John Burnett & Mary Jennings L.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1945-09-01
  • Death City: Lake Zurich
  • Death State/Country: IL
  • Married: Alice C. Judson, 22 Aug. 1903.
  • Education:

    A.B. U. Toronto, 1891; Litt. D., 1923; Ph.D. Johns Hopkins, 1896; LL.D., 1938; U. Western Ont., 1924; U. Pittsburgh, 1930; LSU, 1938.

  • Professional Experience:

    Lctr. Lat. lit. Bryn Mawr, 1897-9; instr. to prof. Lat. U. Chicago, 1899-1921, 1923-35; chair dept., 1919-21; prof. & head dept. class. & dean fac. arts McGill U., 1921-3; dean div. hum. U. Chicago, 1931-5; alumni dean, 1940-3; ann. prof. ASCSR, 1911-2; mng. ed. a, 1905-8; asso. ed. CP, 1905-21, 1923-45; Sather prof., 1916-7; pres. CAMWS, 1919-20; pres. APA, 1924-5.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Genitive of Value in Latin and Other Constructions with Verbs of Rating" (Johns Hopkins, 1896); printed (Chicago, 1920)

  • Publications:

    Selections from Ovid (New York, 1905); The Phormio of Terence (Chicago, 1908); "Roman Milestones and the Capita Viarum," TAPA 39 (1908) 15-34; First Latin Lessons, with Minnie Smith (Boston, 1908); Paul Shorey, Horace Odes and Epodes, rev. with Shorey (Boston, 1910); "The Legend of the Trojan Settlement in Latium," CP 6 (1911) 51-64; "Roman Prayer and Its Relation to Ethics," ibid., 180-96; Masterpieces of Latin Literature (ed.) (Boston, 1913); "Church Fathers and the Oriental Cults," CJ 13 (1918-19) 246-57; "Quintilian the Schoolmaster," CJ 15 (1920-21) 515-34; "Archaeology in Italy and Its Contribution to Philology," CJ 16 (1921-22) 451-63; "The Origin of the Cult of the Lares," CP 16 (1921) 124-40; Alberico Gentili, De legationibus libri tres (trans.) 2 vols. (New York, 1924); Survivals of Roman Religion (New York, 1931); Cornelius van Bijnkershock, De Foro legatorum liber singularis (trans.) (Oxford, 1946); chair ed. bd., The American Educator Encyclopedia, 10 vols. (New York, 1947).

  • Notes:

    Classics in the United States owes a great debt to scholars who were born in Canada and received their collegiate training there. One of the most competent and versatile of these was Gordon Jennings Laing. After graduation from Toronto, Laing came to Johns Hopkins, where he was trained by Gildersleeve and Minton Warren. After his stints at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and Bryn Mawr, he followed his fellow Canadian Robert J. Bonner to the University of Chicago, where he was instrumental in the founding of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South as well as Classical Journal and Classical Philology. Upon the retirement of William G. Hale, he became chairman of the department. After he was called to McGill in 1921, a new career as an administrator began for him, which he continued on his return to Chicago. In a Commemoration Day address at Johns Hopkins in 1931 he said, "We are suffering from a sort of riot of education," and went on to deride the introduction of practical courses into the university curriculum. He was particularly perplexed by a course on baby care: "It seems to me that any girl ought to know what to do with a baby after she has got it." He was in great demand as a speaker. In the words of his colleague, George L. Hendrickson, "no account of him would be complete which did not recall the singular felicity of his familiar talks in classroom, or outside of it, and on occasions of academic gatherings or festivities. In his own unique way he was the old time professor eloquentiae revitalizing the ancient title."

  • Sources:

    G. L. Hendrickson, PAPA 76 (1945) xxiii-xxiv; NYTimes (3 Sept. 1945) 23; K. F. Smith, C/41 (1945-6) 36-37; WhAm 2:309.

  • Author: John Francis Latimer