North American Scholar
OWEN, Eric Trevor
B.A. Trinity Coll., U. Toronto, 1903; M.A. U. Toronto, 1904; study at Oxford.
- Professional Experience:
Prof. Gk. Trinity Coll., U. Toronto, 1912-23; prof. Gk. Univ. Coll., U. Toronto, 1923-48.
"What is Poetry?," Dalhousie Review 10 (1931) 463-79; "Tragedy and the First Tragedian," UTQ 3 (1934) 498-510; "Sophocles the Dramatist," UTQ 5 (1936) 228-50; "The Oresteia of Aeschylus," UTQ 8 (1939) 440-51; "Drama in Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus," UTQ 9 (1940) 46-59; "The Drama of the Agamemnon," UTQ 11 (1942) 140-53; The Story of the Iliad as Told in the Iliad (Toronto, 1946; repr. Bristol, Eng., 1989); The Harmony of Aeschylus (Toronto, 1953).
Owen was the quiet, self-effacing counterpart to his friend and colleague Gilbert Norwood in University College, Toronto. Norwood tended to be volcanic, fiercely argumentative, or urbane by degrees; Owen was always gently affirmative, cautiously disputatious, a serene embodiment of thoughtful scholarship and refinement. Students respected Owen as a master of appreciation, insightful and sensible in his penetrating glosses on Homer and the Greek tragedians, uniquely gifted as a sympathetic, responsive lecturer to undergraduate students at every level. Norwood, his respectful colleague, paid a generous tribute to Owen's Story of the Iliad, a perennial favorite in classical civilization classes across Canada: "sweeping aside that notorious and many-headed bogey, the Homeric Question, with a few politely devastating words . . . [Owen] lighted up the whole poem for every student." Owen's design to produce a full-scale study of Aeschylean tragedy was frustrated by death. Completed material (Oresteia) and his graduate seminar lectures were compiled and edited by his son in The Harmony of Aeschylus.
MacDCB 1978; G. Norwood, Phoenix 2 (1947-8) 35-6; T. A. Reed, A History of Trinity College, Toronto: 1852-1952 (Toronto, 1952) 11, 121, 133, 150; Toronto Globe and Mail (3 Mar. 1948); A. S. P. Woodhouse, in University College: A Portrait, 1853-1953 (Toronto, 1953) 67-70 ("a literary critic unsurpassed in sensitivity, penetration and independence of judgement," 70).
- Author: Alexander G. McKay