North American Scholar

NOTOPOULOS, James Anastasios

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  • Date of Birth: 1905-07-04
  • Born City: Altoona
  • Born State/Country: PA
  • Parents: Anastasios Nicholas & Helen Varveris N.
  • Date of Death: 1967-10-17
  • Death City: West Hartford
  • Death State/Country: CT
  • Married: Jean McKerihan, 1 May 1934.
  • Education:

    A.B. Amherst, 1928; A.M. Oxford (Jesus Coll.), 1934.

  • Professional Experience:

    Dist. mgr. Penware, Pennler, Alpenn Theatres Corp, western PA, 1933-6; instr. Gk. Trinity Coll. (Hartford, CT), 1936-8; asst. prof, class., 1938-46; Hobart prof. of class., 1946-67; univ. seminar asso. class, civ., Columbia, U., 1959-67; exec. comm. ASCSA, 1950-4, vis. prof., 1952-3; Guggenheim fell., 1952-3; Lat. comm. Coll. Board Entrance Exams, 1955-67; vis. prof. Princeton, 1955-6; Harvard, 1961-2; pres. CANE, 1963-4.

  • Publications:

    "Movement in the Divided Line of Plato's Republic,1'' HSCP 47 (1936) 57-83; "Mnemosyne in Oral Literature," TAPA 69 (1938) 465-93; "The Slaves at the Battle of Marathon," AJP 62 (1941) 352-4; "Plato's Epitaph," AJP 63 (1942) 272-93; "Ferguson's Law in Athens under the Empire," AJP 64 (1943) 44-55; "The Method of Choosing Archons in Athens under the Empire," AJP 65 (1944) 149-66; "The Symbolism of the Sun and Light in the Republic of Plato," CP 39 (1944) 163-72, 223-40; "The Conciliar and Civil Calendar in I.G.., P, 324," AJP 66 (1945) 411-4; "The Date of the Creation of Hadrianis," TAPA 77 (1946) 53-56; "Parataxis in Homer: A New Approach to Homeric Literary Criticism," TAPA 80 (1949) 1-23; The Platonism of Shelley : A Study of Platonism and the Poetic Mind (Durham, NC, 1949); "The Generic and Oral Composition in Homer," TAPA 81 (1950) 28-36; "Continuity and Interconnexion in Homeric Oral Composition," TAPA 82 (1951) 81-101; "Homer and Cretan Heroic Poetry: A Study in Comparative Oral Poetry," AJP 73 (1952) 225-50; "Homer and Geometric Art," Athena 61 (1957) 65-93; "Homer, Hesiod, and the Achaean Heritage of Oral Poetry," Hesperia 29 (1960) 177-97; "The Homeric Hymn as Oral Poetry: A Study of the Post-Homeric Tradition," AJP 83 (1962) 337-68; "Studies in Early Greek Oral Poetry," HSCP 68 (1964) 1-77; "Archilochus, the Aoidos," TAPA 91 (1966) 311-15.

  • Notes:

    James A. Notopoulos is best known for his studies of Plato's influence on Shelley and of Homer as an oral poet. His interest in Plato and his influence culminates in The Platonism of Shelley, which was hailed by reviewers as a work of unusual scope and depth. Notopoulos went on to write essays on classical influences on Byron, Keats, Emerson, Yeats, T. E. Lawrence, and Kazantzakis. A second major interest was in Greek epigraphy, to which he had been introduced by two masters, Tod of Oxford and Ferguson of Harvard. Continuing the work of Ferguson, who had discovered that the twelve Athenian tribes had provided secretaries for the government of Athens in regular and predictable cycles down to the time of Sulla in the first century B.C.E., Notopoulos showed that this "law" continued into the third century C.E. He thus provided the framework for re-dating many official inscriptions and for establishing the chronology of Athens under the Roman Empire. Notopoulos' third major interest was in continuing the work of Milman Parry and Albert Lord in viewing Homer as an oral poet. In 1952-3, while holding a Guggenheim Fellowship and while serving as visiting professor at the ASCSA, Notopoulos went to the hinterlands of Greece and Crete, as Parry and Lord had previously gone to Yugoslavia. On long field trips to the mountainous villages there, he recorded the oral epics and ballads still being sung and improvised by poets and traveling minstrels, some of which went back to the Middle Ages but some of which dealt with the Greek War of Independence in the 19th century and even the Nazi invasion of Crete during the World War II. The result of this study was the recording of more than 1,500 folk songs and ballads on tape, which were copied and deposited in the Library of Congress and excerpts of which were embodied in the C. N. Jackson Lectures delivered at Harvard in 1962 and published in a lengthy article, "Studies in Early Greek Oral Poetry." Notopoulos' original recordings and slides, as well as his unfinished book on oral literature in Greece, were given to Harvard after his death and are stored there in the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature.

  • Sources:

    CJ 63 (1967-8) 143-4; NYTimes (19 Oct. 1967) 47; WhAm 4:709.

  • Author: Louis H. Feldman