North American Scholar
PERRY, Ben Edwin
B.A. U. Michigan, 1915; M.A., 1916; Ph.D. Princeton, 1919.
- Professional Experience:
Instr. Urbana (OH) U. School, 1919-20; instr. Lat. Dartmouth, 1920-2; Western Reserve U., 1922-4; asst. prof, to prof, class. U. Illinois, 1924-60; Sather prof., 1951; vis. prof, class. U. Michigan, 1967; adv. counc. AAR; Guggenheim fell., 1930-1; 1954-5; asso. ed. CP, 1948-51; Goodwin Award, 1955.
"The Metamorphoses Ascribed to Lucius of Patrae, Its Content, Nature, and Authorship" (Princeton, 1919); printed (Lancaster, PA, 1920).
"The Significance of the Title in Apuleius' Metamorphoses" CP 18 (1923) 229-38; "Some Aspects of the Literary Art of Apuleius in the Metamorphoses," TAPA 54 (1923) 196-227; "On Apuleius' Metamorphoses II. 31-III. 20," AJP 46 (1925) 253-62; "Petronius and the Comic Romance," CP 20 (1925) 31-49; "An Interpretation of Apuleius' Metamorphoses" TAPA 57 (1926) 238-60; "On the Authenticity of Lucius sive Asinus," CP 21 (1926) 225-34; "On Apuleius' Hermagoras," AJP 48 (1927) 263-6; "On Apuleius' Metamorphoses 1.14-17," CP 24 (1929) 394-400; "The Story of Thelyphron in Apuleius," CP 24 (1929) 231-8; "Chariton and His Romance from a Literary-Historical Point of View," AJP 51 (1930) 93-134; "A Manuscript Fragment of the Prochiron," ByzZ 32 (1933) 362; "The Text Tradition of the Greek Life of Aesop," TAPA 64 (1933) 198-244; "The Greek Source of Rinuccio's Aesop," CP 29 (1934) 53-62; Studies in the Text History of the Life and Fables of Aesop, APA Monogr. VII (Haverford, PA, 1936); "The Early Greek Capacity for Viewing Things Separately," TAPA 68 (1937) 403-27; "The Origin of the Epimythium," TAPA 71 (1940) 391-419; Aesopica, vol. 1 (Urbana, 1952) (later volumes never appeared); The Origin of the Book of Sinbad (trans.) (Berlin, 1960); "Demetrius of Phalerum and the Aesopic Fables," TAPA 93 (1962) 287-346; Secundus, the Silent Philosopher, APA Philol. Monogr. XXII (Ithaca, NY, 1964); David of Sassoun: The Armenian Folk Epic (foreword) (Athens, OH, 1964); Babrius and Phaedrus (trans.), LCL (Cambridge & London, 1965); "The Egyptian Legend of Nectanebus," TAPA 97 (1966) 327-33; The Ancient Romances: A Literary-Historical Account of Their Origins, Sather Lectures, 37 (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1967).
Ben Edwin Perry typifies the best sort of American classical scholar of the generation that followed the founders. He never studied in Europe. He taught only in the United States. He was for 36 years loyal to one institution, Illinois, where for twenty years he served under W. A. Oldfather. He was equally adept in Greek and in Latin. The honors he received were all American ones. He composed erudite work of value that lasted. His only book that might be called popular was a Loeb edition of two minor authors.He decided at the start of his career to avoid epic and tragedy where too much, of which little lasts, is written. He chose rather to concentrate on two minor genres, fable and the ancient novel. For 50 years he published on the latter. He was able in his published Sather lectures to conclude to his own satisfaction his lifelong concern with the novel. He stressed the inventiveness of the individual writer against the historical evolution of a form that molds its practitioners, as argued especially by Rohde. The highest authorities lauded the book. Merkelbach [Gnomon 40  658) declared that "this book will long remain a standard work on the ancient romance" and H. H. O. Chalk at CR n.s. 21 (1971) 80 rightly extolled the "enormous common sense in a field where this is often lacking." For reasons that are not clear he never completed the "three or possibly four" concluding volumes of historical and literary commentary to his monumental Aesopica. The volume contains the authoritative editio maior of the Vita Aesopi, translated in 1961 by Lloyd Daly, the testimonia for Aesop's life, and the fables attributed to him. As a teacher he remained always in the shadow of Oldfather. He never formed a school. His most influential and original article treated an unexpected subject: "The Early Greek Capacity for Viewing Things Separately." His articles on the novel deserve to be collected.
J. L. Heller, CJ 64 (1968-9) 143-4; Classical Studies Presented to Ben Edwin Perry by His Students and Colleagues at the University of Illinois 1924-1960 (Urbana, 1969); WhAm 5:565.
- Author: William M. Calder III