North American Scholar

PRESCOTT, Henry Washington

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1874-07-30
  • Born City: Boston
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: Washington L. & Rebecca A. Boyce P.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1943-06-08
  • Death City: Berkeley
  • Death State/Country: CA
  • Married: Clara Walton, 27 Apr. 1905.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1895; A.M., 1896; Ph.D., 1901.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Lat. Trinity Coll. (Hartford, CT), 1898-9; instr. Gk. & Lat. Harvard, 1899-1901; instr. Lat. U. California, 1901-4; asst. prof, to prof, class, philol. U. Chicago, 1904-40; pres. APA, 1930-1; appointed prof.-in-res. AAR, but did not serve, 1940; fell. Andrew F. West Found. Princeton, 1941-3.

  • Dissertation:

    "De Daphnide Commentatio" (Harvard, 1901); partially published in "Two German Parallels to the Daphnis-Myth," PAPA 33 (1902) cv, and in "Notes on the Scholia and the Text of Theocritus," CR 17 (1903) 107-12.

  • Publications:

    "The Scene-Headings in the Early Recensions of Plautus," HSCP 9 (1898) 192-8; "A Study of the Daphnis Myth," HSCP 10 (1899) 121-40; "Magister Curiae in Plautus's Aulularia," TAPA 34 (1903) 41-8; "Notes and Queries on Utopias in Plautus," AJP 29 (1908) 55-68; "The New Fragments of Menander," CP 3 (1908) 199-200; "Studies in the Grouping of Names in Plautus," CP 4 (1909) 1-24; "The Versus Incondlti of Pap. Oxyrh. 219," CP 5 (1910) 158-68; "An Epigram of Posidippus," CP 5 (1910) 494-501; "Three Puer-Scenes in Plautus and the Distribution of Roles," HSCP 21 (1910) 31-50; "Marginalia on Apuleius's Metamorphoses," CP 6 (1911) 345-50; "The Position of "Deferred" Nouns and Adjectives in Epic and Dramatic Verse," CP 7 (1912) 35-58; "Hellenistic Literature," in Greek Literature (New York, 1912), 229-66; "The Amphitruo of Plautus," CP 8 (1913) 14-22; "The Interpretation of Roman Comedy," CP 11 (1916) 125-47; "The Antecedents of Hellenistic Comedy," CP 12 (1917) 404-25; 13 (1918) 113-37; 14 (1919) 108-35; "Inorganic Roles in Roman Comedy," CP 15 (1920) 245-81; "Callimachus's Epigram on the Nautilus," CP 16 (1921) 327-37; "The Doubling of Roles in Roman Comedy," CP 18 (1923) 23-34; "Horace's "Integer Vitae," CP 20 (1925) 276-7; The Development of Virgil's Art (Chicago, 1927); "The Present Status of the Vergilian Appendix," CJ 26 (1930-1) 49-61; "The Comedy of Errors," CP 24 (1929) 32-41; "Silent Roles in Roman Comedy," CP 31 (1936) 97-119; 32 (1937) 193-209; "Link Monologues in Roman Comedy," CP 34 (1939) 1-23, 116-126; "Criteria of Originality in Plautus," TAPA 63 (1932) 103-25; "The Unity of Catullus lxviii," TAPA 71 (1940) 473-500; "Exit Monologues in Roman Comedy," CP 37 (1942) 1-21.

  • Notes:

    Since he was born in Boston, perhaps it was natural for Henry Prescott to attend Harvard for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. After the master's he taught for a year at Trinity College in Hartford and then returned to Harvard as an instructor in Latin while he worked on the doctorate. In the fall of 1901 he became an instructor in Latin at the University of California in Berkeley, where he advanced to an associate professorship in comparative philology. His record as a teacher and as a productive scholar brought him an invitation from the University of Chicago, which he accepted in the fall of 1909 with the same rank and title. He was soon promoted to professor and his exacting scholarship and excellent teaching attracted many graduate students, both for master's and doctoral study. As P. W. Harsh said, "Few of his years at Chicago passed without the appearance of one or more doctoral dissertations written under his direction."When he was appointed second Sather Professor (winter term 1915), he had the distinction of being the first American to serve in that prestigious post, and he was the youngest among the first 50 appointees. By the time of his retirement in 1940 he had become one of the leading scholars in Hellenistic and Roman comedy. Those publications and his book, The Development of Virgil's Art, largely based on the work of Richard Heinze, are his monument and of the former, Harsh opined, "The total of his contributions in this field is impressive, and their soundness assures him a permanent place in the history of classical scholarship." He took sincere interest also in the problems of higher education, and suggested some solutions to them in a brilliant paper: "General Education: Its Nature, Scope, and Essential Elements."The year following his retirement in 1940 he was appointed visiting professor at the American Academy in Rome but war conditions made it impossible for him to fill the post. Fortunately for him and for classical scholarship, he spent the last two years of his life on the Andrew F. West Foundation at Princeton.

  • Sources:

    Gertrude Smith [Greenwood], PAPA 74 (1943) xvii-xviii; Philip W. Harsh, C7 39 (1944-5) 318-19; WhAm 2:431.

  • Author: John Francis Latimer