North American Scholar

OWEN, Eric Trevor

  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1882-05-28
  • Born City: Toronto
  • Born State/Country: ON
  • Parents: Trevor Randolph & Florence Paynter O.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1948-03-02
  • Death City: Toronto
  • Death State/Country: ON
  • Married: Elsie Una Maclean, 31 July 1909.
  • Education:

    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.

  • Publications:

    "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).

  • Notes:

    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.

  • Sources:

    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