• Date of Birth: October 15, 1879
  • Born City: Calvaria
  • Born State/Country: Lithuania
  • Parents: Charles H. & Sarah Ragoler L.; immigrated to USA at age 12; naturalized US citizen in 1900.
  • Date of Death: August 08, 1969
  • Death City: Bad Nauheim
  • Death State/Country: Germany
  • Married: Helen Tracy Porter, 8 Feb. 1911.
  • Education:

    Study at CCNY, 1894-7; A.B. Cornell, 1902; study at Halle, 1902-3; Ph.D. Munich, 1907; fell. ASCSR, 1908-10; M.A. Oxford, 1920; D. Litt. Oxford, 1936; LL.D. U. North Carolina, 1946; D.Litt. Nat. U. of Ireland.

  • Dissertation:

    "Die ältesten Kalendarien aus Monte Cassino" (Munich, 1907); printed (Munich, 1908).

  • Professional Experience:

    Lctr. palaeog. Oxford, 1913-27; reader, 1927-48; Sandars reader Cambridge, 1914; res. asso. palaeog. Carnegie Inst. (Washington), 1911-53; prof, palaeog. IAS, 1936-45; consult, palaeog. Lib. Congress; hon. fell. Corpus Christi Coll., Oxford; Chichele lctr. All Souls Coll., Oxford, 1961; Haskins Medal Med. Acad. Am., 1957; Gold Medal Award Bibliog. Soc. (London), 1959; fell. Med. Acad. Am.; AAAS; corr. fell. British Acad.; corr. mem. Acad. Hist. (Madrid); Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften; Accademia dei Lincei (Rome); Inst, de France; hon. mem. Royal Irish Acad. (Dublin).

  • Publications:

    Studia Palaeographical A Contribution to the History of Early Latin Minuscule and to the Dating of Visigothic Manuscripts (Munich, 1910); The Beneventan Script: A History of the South Italian Minuscule (Oxford, 1914; 2nd rev. ed. by Virginia Brown, Rome, 1980); The Bobbio Missal: A Galilean Mass-Book, with Andre Wilmart & H. A. Wilson, 3 vols. {Facsimile; Text; Notes and Studies) (London, 1917; 1920; 1924); A Sixth-Century Fragment of the Letters of Pliny the Younger, with E. K. Rand (Washington, 1922); Codices Lugdunenses Antiquissimi (Lyons, 1924); English Handwriting, with Robert Bridges and Roger Fry (Oxford, 1926); "Handwriting" in The Legacy of the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1926) 197-226; Regula S. Benedicti (Oxford, 1929); Scriptura beneventana, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1929); Codices Latini Antiquiores: A Palaeographical Guide to Latin MS prior to the Nineteenth Century, 11 vols. & Supplement (Oxford, 1934-71; 2d ed. of vol. 2, 1972); two further supplements in Medieval Studies 47 (1985) 317-66 and 54 (1992) 286-307; English Uncial (Oxford, 1960); Handwriting: Our Medieval Legacy, with W. Braxton Ross (Rome, 1969).Kleine Schriften: Palaeographical Papers 1907-1965, ed. Ludwig Bieler, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1972).

  • Notes:

    The accomplishments of E. A. Lowe, the premier Latin palaeographer of his generation, establish him as one of America's foremost classical scholars. Curiously enough, his contributions to classical scholarship resulted from his eventual abandonment of a conventional career in classical philology. Upon completing undergraduate studies in Greek and Latin literature at Cornell, Lowe continued his classical education under Georg Wissowa at Halle. After a year there, Wissowa thought that it would contribute to Lowe's development to spend a semester in Munich with Ludwig Traube. So taken was Lowe by Traube's personality and approach to Latin literature (with its emphasis on the manuscript traditions of the literature) that he never returned to Halle. Although Traube's suggested dissertation subject, "Monte Cassino as a Center for the Transmission of Latin Classics," need not have entailed the abandonment of a conventional career in classical philology, the way in which Lowe decided to address the proposed subject did entail such an abandonment. He approached the problem on the most fundamental level by initiating an exhaustive study of the handwriting used in South Italy, on the basis of which extant manuscripts might be assigned to Monte Cassino as their place of origin and then be given their appropriate dates. The script of South Italy did preserve a considerable number of classical Latin texts—including some of which it was the unique preserver—but these would be overwhelmed by texts of biblical, liturgical, and patristic content, and it is actually among these latter texts that Lowe would spend most of his long professional life. What enabled him nevertheless to do more for classical scholarship than he probably would have done as a philologist is the happy fact that the rules presiding over the development of Latin script, which can be satisfactorily derived only from the masses of extant Christian texts, apply, once derived, equally to classical texts.The Beneventan Script, the ultimate product of his dissertation research, was both methodically and substantively trailblazing when it first appeared and it still serves, together with the facsimiles in Scriptura Beneventana, as the model for treating the history of a script. Lowe next turned his attention to the uncial script, thanks in part to his and E. K. Rand's chance encounter with an uncial fragment of the letters of Pliny the Younger that was about three centuries older than any previously known copy. In order to establish a reliable date of origin for the Pliny fragment, Lowe began to assemble a list of all the objectively dated uncial manuscripts that he could find and then noted when various palaeographical or codicological features made their first appearance in these manuscripts. The collecting and evaluating of data of this kind continued through the 1920s, well beyond the publication of the Pliny text, and eventually inspired Lowe's Codices Latini Antiquiores, a monumental project describing and supplying a facsimile of every surviving Latin literary manuscript antedating the ninth century. Work on this project began in 1929 and the final proofsheets of the last, supplementary volume were in Lowe's hands when he died 40 years later. Codices Latini Antiquiores, which naturally treats all the older manuscripts of the Latin classics, constitutes Lowe's greatest and most lasting contribution to scholarship, but concurrently with it he continued to publish seminal studies on a variety of other palaeographical subjects, now reassembled in his Palaeographical Papers.

  • Sources:

    Bernhard Bischoff, Bay. Akad. Wiss. Jahrb (1970) 199-203; Julian Brown, "E. A. Lowe and Codices Latini Antiquiores," Scrittura e Civilta 1 (1977) 177-97; DAS 1969H:314; James J. John, "E. A. Lowe and Codices Latini Antiquiores," ACLS Newsletter 20 (Oct. 1969) 1-17; idem, "A Palaeographer among Benedictines: A Tribute to E. A. Lowe," American Benedictine Review 21 (1970) 139-47; Hope Mayo & Sunil Sharma, "The E. A. Lowe Papers at the Pierpont Morgan Library," Scriptorium 46 (1992) 90-107; WhAm 5:442.

  • Author: James J. John