North American Scholar

LEVY, Harry Louis

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1906-12-05
  • Born City: New York
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: William W. & Bertha D. Haber L.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1981-01-11
  • Death City: Durham
  • Death State/Country: NC
  • Married: Muriel Erdreich, 12 Apr. 1928; Ernestine Friedl, 27 Sept. 1942.
  • Education:

    A.B. CCNY, 1925; A.M. Columbia, 1926; Ph.D., 1936.

  • Professional Experience:

    Mem. fac. Hunter Coll., 1928-64; prof, class., 1953-64; dean of men, 1952-3; 1959-63; dean of students CUNY, 1963-6; univ. prof, class., 1964-81; first vice-chancellor, 1966-8; prof, human. Liberal Arts College of Fordham U. at Lincoln Square, 1967-71; res. fell. ASCSA, 1971-2; vis. prof. Duke, 1973-81; ed.-in-chief CW, 1949-52; pres. APA, 1973-74.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Invective In Rufinum of Claudius Claudianus" (Columbia, 1936); printed (Geneva, NY, 1935)

  • Publications:

    A Latin Reader for Colleges (New York, 1939); "Gnomonica in Aulus Gellius," AJP 60 (1939) 301-6; "Claudian's In Rufinum 1.83-84 and a Vatican Vase-Painting," TAPA 72 (1941) 237-44; "Catullus, 5, 7-11 and the Abacus," AJP 62 (1941) 222-4; "Claudian's In Rufinum and the Rhetorical Ψόγος,” TAPA 77 (1946) 57-65; "Two Notes on Claudian's In Rufinum," AJP 68 (1947) 64-73; "Claudian's In Rufinum and an Epistle of St. Jerome," AJP 69 (1948) 62-8; "Echoes of Early Eschatology in the Iliad," ibid., 420-1; "Claudian's Neglect of Magic as a Motif," TAPA 79 (1948) 87-91; "Property Distribution by Lot in Present-Day Greece," TAPA 87 (1956) 42-6; "Terence Andria 560-5," AJP 79 (1958) 173-8; "Themes of Encomium and Invective in Claudian," TAPA 89 (1958) 336-47; "The Odyssean Suitors and the Host-Guest Relationship," TAPA 94 (1963) 145-53; "Terence, Andria, 74-79 and the Palatine Anthology," AJP 89 (1968) 470-1; "To Hexes in Homeric Scholia and Servius' Ordo," TAPA 100 (1969) 237-54; Claudian's In Rufinum: An Exegetical Commentary (Cleveland, 1971); Lucian, Seventy Dialogues (Norman, OK, 1976).

  • Notes:

    Harry Levy is best known for his textual edition and exegetical commentary on Claudian's In Rufinum. He graduated from City College at the age of 18, originally intending to enter the field of law. In 1963, when the City University of New York, comprising its various city colleges, was organized, he was named dean of studies in charge of the master plan of the university.Levy was a master teacher and wrote extensively on the methods for revitalizing the teaching of Latin. With his precise, courtly manner and dress, his military gait, and his rapid-fire wit and enthusiasm in several languages, ancient and modern, he was an important force for the preservation of the classics, particularly through the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, which he served as chairman in 1962 and which presented him with its annual award in 1970. He was known as a great pedagogue, who was exacting in his standards; and his Latin Reader achieved considerable popularity, as did his school edition of Lucian's dialogues. His standard of service, particularly on faculty committees, was so meticulous that he earned the refrain "Levy service makes you nervous."Levy's dissertation, published in 1935, a year before he received his doctorate, was described by a reviewer, the leading Claudian scholar of his day, as a work of "learning and sound sense" in which he had shown "admirable acumen." The work bore the marks of his career—common sense, incisive style, and prompt publication. It was this that was to serve as the basis for his magnum opus, his exegetical commentary on this work in 1971. In his 58 articles and six books he covered the spectrum of both Greek and Latin literature, with notable contributions particularly to scholarship on Homer, Euripides, Lucian, Terence, Catullus, Cicero, Horace, Ovid, and Servius. In 1955-6 he and his wife, the anthropologist Ernestine Friedl, who was conducting an ethnographic study of Greek rural life, spent a year in a village in Boeotia, where his fluency in modern Greek and his bubbling and energetic personality helped greatly in their studies. If need be, he obliged, as he once did, by eating a pig's eye at a village banquet, all in the name of anthropology.

  • Sources:

    ConAu 33-36:312-3; 103: 292; DAS 78:288; L. H. Feldman, Encyclopedia Judaica Year Book (Jerusalem, 1973) 291; NYTBS 84:74; WhAm 7:348.

  • Author: Louis H. Feldman