North American Scholar

PEASE, Arthur Stanley

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  • Date of Birth: 1881-09-22
  • Born City: Somers
  • Born State/Country: CT
  • Parents: Theodore Claudius, a minister, & Abby Frances Cutter P.
  • Date of Death: 1964-01-07
  • Death City: Concord
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Married: Henrietta Faxon, 23 June 1909.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1902; A.M., 1903; Ph.D., 1905; student, ASCSR, 1905-6; LL.D. Williams, 1931; Amherst, 1933.

  • Dissertation:

    "De Sancti Hieronymi commentariolis tractatibusque in Psalmos quaestiones variae" (Harvard, 1905).

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. class. Harvard, 1906-9; asst. prof, to prof, class. U. Illinois, 1909-24; curator Mus. Class. Art & Arch., 1911-24; prof. Lat. Amherst, 1924-7; pres., 1927-32; Pope prof. Lat. lang. & lit. Harvard, 1932-50; pres. APA, 1939-40; vice pres. AAAS, 1934-41; trustee LCL, 1935-64.

  • Publications:

    "Notes on Some Uses of Bells among the Greeks and Romans," HSCP 15 (1904) 29-59; "Notes on St. Jerome's Tractates on the Psalms," JBL 25 (1907) 107-31; "Notes on Stoning among the Greeks and Romans," TAPA 38 (1907) 5-18; "A Harvard Manuscript of St. Augustine," HSCP 21 (1910) 51-74; "The Omen of Sneezing," CP 6 (1911) 429-43; "Notes on the Delphic Oracle and Greek Colonization," CP 12 (1917) 1-20; Index Verborum quae in Senecae fabulis necnon in Octavia praetexta reperiuntur, with W. A. Oldfather and H. V. Canter, 3 vols. (Urbana, 1918; repr. Darmstadt, 1964); "On the Authenticity of the Hercules Oetaeus," TAPA 49 (1918) 3-26; "The Attitude of Jerome towards Pagan Literature," TAPA 50 (1919) 150-67; M. Tulli Ciceronis De divinatione (Urbana, 1920; repr. Darmstadt, 1963, 1973); Aeneas Tac-ticus, Asclepiodotus, Onbsander, trans, with W. A. Oldfather et al., LCL (Cambridge & London, 1923); "Things without Honor," CP 21 (1926) 27-42; "The Love of the Plants," CP 22 (1927) 94-8; Publi Vergili Maronis Aeneidos liber quartus (Cambridge, 1935; repr. Darmstadt, 1967); "Oelbaum," "Oleum," in RE 17.2 (1937) 1998-2022, 2454-74; "Caeli enarrant," HThR 34 (1941) 163-200; Sequestered Vales of Life (Cambridge, 1946); Cicero, De Natura Deorum, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1955-8); Generic Names of Orchids: Their Origin and Meaning, with Richard Evans Schultes (New York, 1963). Bibliography: HSCP 60 (1951) 1-10.Papers: The Houghton Library at Harvard has approximatley 4,600 items and 45 volumes, chiefly correspondence, together with diaries & botanical notes of Essex County, Massachusetts. There are also extensive archives at Amherst College.

  • Notes:

    Arthur Stanley Pease, professor of Latin at Harvard, is best known for his exhaustive editions of Cicero's De Divinatione and De Natura Deorum and the fourth book of Virgil's Aeneid. Born in his grandfather's parsonage, Pease imbibed from his father, a minister who died shortly after accepting a professorship at Andover Theological Seminary, an abiding interest in religion. During his tenure as president of Amherst, despite considerable opposition, he played a key role in discontinuing the 23-"year-old honor system, in dropping a Bible course which he believed was duplicated in the philosophy department, and in opposing student hazing. He was known as a quiet and able administrator, with an extraordinary resemblance in appearance and manner to President Calvin Coolidge; and he, too, seldom used unnecessary words.Pease wrote of his method that he was by nature a collector, whether of plants or of facts and ideas. "When enough of a kind are amassed," he remarked, "they are outspread, classified, digested, written down, dehydrated, and lo! an article, or more rarely, a book" would emerge, "boiling down, like Aristotle and the maple-syrup makers, a thousand gallons of facts to a half-pint of principles." His was truly an extraordinary talent for organization of material and for seeing the interconnection of apparently disparate facts.His commentaries on Cicero's De Divinatione and De Natura Deorum and on Virgil's Aeneid, Book 4, which are primarily interpretive rather than textual, are marked by meticulous care in the description of manuscripts, a very conservative approach to textual criticism, sound judgment, wise restraint, an enormous amount of common sense, extraordinary fullness and precision in citation of ancient parallels, and exhaustiveness of bibliographical and illustrative information, frequently correcting the references in his predecessors. They are thus extraordinarily useful as works of reference. He would, for practical purposes, memorize the text on which he was commenting, and then read through everything in Greek and Latin literature from Homer to Boethius, seeking to shed light upon it. Despite the length of these commentaries (for the Aeneid, there are, at most, four lines of Virgil on a page, with double columns of commentary in small print below), his introductions are extremely concise and, indeed, almost telegraphic. Inasmuch as all the work upon which he commented dealt largely with religious matters, his commentary frequently dwells on their influence on Church fathers and on medieval and Renaissance and modern works of religion. Where there are controversies, Pease presents the issues at length, cites the secondary literature exhaustively, and frequently remains agnostic himself at the conclusion. Many of his notes are articles of such encyclopedic nature that they might well be treatises in themselves, particularly in the area of folklore and religion. Notable examples from his commentary on the Aeneid are his comments on owls (he cites 40 parallels from the classics and 46 from modern writings), the remarriage of widows, dreams, the all-seeing sun, sunsets, purple dyes, dragons, magic, tigers, tattooing, blond hair, bare feet in ritual, and beating the breast (he gives, for example, over a hundred passages on this last motif). Notable discussions in his commentary on Cicero's De Natura Deorum are his notes, often entertaining, on atheism, "eye of the mind," poets' representations of the gods, isonomy, salamanders, monkeys, worshiping the new moon, villages noted for the stupidity of their inhabitants, "one finger too many," natural law, deified heroes, cardinal virtues, and the ancient worship of fishes. In short, his commentaries are truly monumental, veritable encyclopedias, comprising, in effect, a library of antiquarian lore. They provide valuable material for the historian of ideas, particularly in the fields of religion, mythology, and folklore. Some reviewers objected that the author's own views were frequently not revealed, but Pease replied that he sought objectivity, and cited the precedent of Cicero in offering materials so that the reader might form his own opinion.Pease also made important contributions to botany, as noted by his friend and mentor, Professor Merritt L. Fernald, in his article "Arthur Stanley Pease, the Botanical Explorer." His Sequestered Vales of Life contains a number of charming essays on plants, people, and places. His very first article was on "Some Wild Flowers of Andover"; and his Vascular Flora of Cods County, New Hampshire, issued in 1924, has remained standard. Five plants were named for him. He was the authority consulted on the accentuation of Latin names in the seventh edition of Gray's Manual of Botany (1908); for the eighth edition he checked the derivations of 9,000 names of Greek or Latin origin

  • Sources:

    Merritt L. Fernald, "Arthur Stanley Pease, the Botanical Explorer," HSCP 60 (1951) 11-21; "Goodbye, Messrs Chips," Time (3 July 1950) 59; NYTimes (8 Jan. 1964) 37; Sequestered Vales of Life; W.A. Oldfather, “Arthur Stanley Pease as a Classical Scholar,” (Amherst, 1927) 264-267; WhAm 4:741.

  • Author: Louis H. Feldman