North American Scholar

LATTIMORE, Richmond Alexander

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1906-05-06
  • Born City: Paotingfu
  • Born State/Country: China
  • Parents: David, a teacher & Margaret Barnes L.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1984-02-26
  • Death City: Rosemont
  • Death State/Country: PA
  • Married: Alice Bock-stahler, 31 Aug. 1935.
  • Education:

    A.B. Dartmouth, 1926; Litt. D., 1958; A.B. Oxford (Christ Church) (Rhodes Scholar), 1932; M.A., 1964; M.A. U. Illinois, 1928; Ph.D., 1934; fellow, AAR, 1934-5.

  • Professional Experience:

    Asst. class. & Eng. U. Illinois, 1926-8; asst. philos. 1933-4; asst prof, class. Wabash Coll., 1928-9; fac. mem. Bryn Mawr, 1935-71; prof. Gk., 1948-71; Rockefeller Foundation post-war fellow, 1946; Fulbright res. fell. (Greece), 1951-2; Turnbull lctr. Johns Hopkins, 1956; ACLS award for scholarship in the humanities, 1959; Lord Northcliffe lctr. U. College, London, 1961; Bollingen Prize (for trans, of Clouds), 1962; Fulbright lctr. Oxford, 1963-4; fellowship award, Academy of American Poets, 1983; mem. AAAL; AAAS; hon. stud. Christ Church, Oxford.

  • Dissertation:

    "Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs" (Illinois, 1934): expanded version printed (Urbana, 1942)

  • Publications:

    "Portents and Prophecies in Connection with the Emperor Vespasian," CJ 29 (1933-4) 441-9; Poems (Ann Arbor, 1957); The Poetry of Greek Tragedy (Baltimore, 1958); Sestina for a Far-off Summer (Ann Arbor, 1962); Story Patterns in Greek Tragedy (London, 1963); Selected Poems (Oxford, 1965); The Stride of Time (Ann Arbor, 1966); "Nausikaa's Suitors," Studies Perry, 88-102; Poems from Three Decades (New York, 1972); Continuing Conclusions (Baton Rouge, 1983).Translations: The Early Philosophers of Greece, with historical intro. by M. T. McClure (New York, 1934); The Odes of Pindar (Chicago, 1947); Aeschylus, Agamemnon, Euripides, The Trojan Women, in Greek Plays in Modern Translation, ed. Dudley Fitts (New York, 1947); Twelve Greek Lyrics (Bryn Mawr, 1949); The Iliad of Homer (Chicago, 1951); "Translations from Gérard de Nerval, Delphica; El Desdichado" and "Translations from Leconte de Lisle, Hjalmar; The Black Panther," Hudson Review 4 (1951) 57-9; 229-37; The Oresteia of Aeschylus (Chicago, 1953); Greek Lyrics (Chicago, 1955); Hesiod, The Works and Days, Theogony, The Shield of Herakles (Ann Arbor, 1959); The Frogs of Aristophanes (Ann Arbor, 1962); The Odyssey of Homer (New York, 1967); Iphigenia in Tauris (New York, 1973); The Four Gospels and the Revelation (New York, 1979); The New Testament: Acts and Epistles (New York, 1982). Edited with David Grene: Euripides I (including trans, of Alcestis) (Chicago, 1955); Euripides II (including trans, of Helen) (Chicago, 1956); Sophocles, Four Tragedies (Chicago, 1957); Euripides III and IV (including trans, of The Trojan Women and Rhesus) (Chicago, 1958); Euripides V and The Complete Greek Tragedies, 4 vols. (Chicago, 1959).

  • Notes:

    Richmond Lattimore, poet and Greek scholar, was chiefly known for his verse translations of Homer, Hesiod, and other Greek poets. Born in China, he was educated at home by his father till he was fourteen, when he attended high school in Berkeley, CA. During his college and graduate years Lattimore wrote stories, poems, and reviews both for various Dartmouth College and University of Illinois publications and for the "little" magazines. Some of his poems also appeared in anthologies of college verse. The year 1934 saw the publication of his first scholarly article and his first formal translation. Thereafter, articles and reviews as well as poems came thick and fast. His scholarly work ranged widely at first but increasingly concentrated, as the years went by, on Greek poetry, epic, lyric, and tragic. Rapidly increasing too were his translations, which were not only from the Greek; thus in 1951, in addition to The Iliad of Homer, translations from the poetry of Gérard de Nerval and Leconte de Lisle appeared in the Hudson Review, as did original poems in the Saturday Review. Other magazines in which his poems and translations appeared include poetry, Harper's Bazaar, the Kenyon Review, the New Yorker, the Times Literary Supplement, the New Republic, and the Antioch Review. His more purely scholarly activity resulted in many articles and reviews which appeared in both Festschriften and a variety of journals.This brief survey bears witness to Richmond Lattimore's notable achievements as both writer and scholar. His success as a teacher cannot be documented in the same way, but there is the living testimony of generations of students who came through him to an understanding of ancient Greek thought and learned to appreciate the simple directness and clarity of his approach to humane studies. Active as he was with teaching, writing, and research, he still had time for people and was the kindest, most considerate, and gentlest of men.

  • Sources:

    DAS 74:265; NYTimes (28 Feb. 1984) IV, 27; Twentieth Century Authors, First Suppl., ed. S. J. Kunitz (New York, 1955); WhWh 1976-7:1836.

  • Author: Mabel L. Lang