North American Scholar

MOORE, John Andrew

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1918-05-10
  • Born City: Trenton
  • Born State/Country: NJ
  • Parents: Thomas P. & Stella H. M.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1972-06-22
  • Death City: Amherst
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1938; A.M., 1940; jr. fell. Society of Fellows, 1940-2; 1946-7; Henry fell. Wadham Coll., Oxford, 1938-9; M.A. (hon.), Amherst, 1958.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. to asso. prof, class. Amherst, 1947-58; Class of 1880 Prof. Class., 1958-72; sr. fell. AAR, 1955-6.

  • Publications:

    Sophocles and Arete, Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Prize Essays (Cambridge, 1939); Selections from the Greek Elegiac, Iambic, and Lyric Poets (Cambridge, 1947); Sophocles' Ajax (trans.) (Chicago, 1957).

  • Notes:

    J. A. Moore's career was an unusual one. A talented, precocious Harvard undergraduate, he attracted the attention of John H. Finley, Jr., and under his guidance wrote an undergraduate essay dedicated to his teacher. Published, it achieved acclaim far exceeding its worth. Moore called it "a reckless attempt to carve out an interpretation of a beautiful and most difficult poet" {Sophocles, xi). It was a well-written appreciative essay with no pretense whatsoever to scholarship by a remarkable young man. The thesis revived the classic notion, not untrue, that Sophocles extolled excellence. It predictably influenced Finley's second Sophoclean student, C. H. Whitman. After securing him a year with C. M. Bowra at Wadham, Finley succeeded in obtaining for him a Junior Fellowship, for which he was allowed three years of unsupervised reading. Three years, interrupted by war service, resulted in his second book, a welcome elementary text and commentary, grammatical and metrical, on selections from the Greek elegiac, iambic, and lyric poets. I attest from personal experience that the book was gratefully received by American undergraduates. Smyth's Greek Melic Poets was long out of print and far too technical. In 1967 David Campbell's Greek Lyric Poetry appeared and Moore was immediately forgotten. But for twenty years the book had made the Greek poets available to youthful readers. Its simple direct approach was its virtue. His last publication returned to his first. For nearly 40 years his elegant version of Sophocles' Ajax has been read with pleasure by the Greekless. For 25 years he taught the literature he loved to well-bred young men. The English dilettantism of Jowett, Sheppard, and Bowra formed his life, not German science.

  • Sources:

    DAS 1969:280; NYTimes (23 June 1972) 40.

  • Author: William M. Calder III