North American Scholar

PRITCHETT, William Kendrick

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  • Date of Birth: 1909-04-14
  • Born City: Atlanta
  • Born State/Country: GA
  • Parents: Leon C. & Katherine Mustin P.
  • Date of Death: 2007-05-29
  • Death City: Berkeley
  • Death State/Country: CA
  • Married: Elizabeth Dow, December 1942
  • Education:

    A.B. Davidson, 1929; A.M. Duke, 1930; Ph.D, Johns Hopkins, 1942.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Five Attic Tribes after Kleisthenes" (Johns Hopkins, 1942; privately printed, Baltimore, 1943).

  • Professional Experience:

    Member, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1936-41; 1945-6; lecturer, Princeton, 1946-7; instr. classics, Muhlenburg College (Allentown, PA). 1947-8; asso. prof. classics, University of California, Berkeley, 1948-53; prof. 1953-76; chair, Dept. Classics, 1966-70; curator, classical epigraphy, Museum of Anthropology, 1960-76; Edward Capps fellow, ASCSA, 1940-1 (prevented from occupying the fellowship because of World War II); ann. prof., 1962-3; mng. comm., 1960-76; Fulbright research fellowship, 1951-2; Guggenheim fellow, 1951, 1955; sr. fellow NEH, 1967; ed. CSCA, 1968-71; hon. memb., Royal Irish Academy; core. fell., British Academy; German Archaeological Institute; Goodwin Award, APA, 1976.

  • Publications:

    “Note on the Attic Year 307-306,” AJP 60 (1937) 220-22; “A Decree of the Year of Koroibos,” AJP 60 (1937) 329-33; “A New Fragment of the Sarapion Monument,” AJP 61(1938) 343-5; “The Composition of the Tribes Antigonis and Demetrias,” AJP 63 (1940) 186-93; “The Term of Office of Attic Strategoi,” AJP 63 (1940) 469-74; “Greek Inscriptions,” Hesperia 10 (1940) 97-133; “Note on the Priests of Asklepios,” AJP 64 (1941) 358-60; “Greek Inscriptions,” Hesperia 11 (1941) 262-83; “A Note on Epigraphic Methodology,” Hesperia 11 (1941) 391-7; “The Tribe Ptolemais,” AJP 65 (1942) 413-32; “Greek Inscriptions,” Hesperia 12 (1942) 230-49; “Months in Dorian Calendars,” AJA 50 (1946) 358-60; “Greek Inscriptions,” Hesperia 15 (1946) 138-68; The Calendars of Athens with Otto Neugebauer (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1948) REVS: JHS LXVIII 1948 165-166 Woodward | Archaeology I 1948 228 Mylonas | AJPh 1949 422-425 McGregor | AJA 1949 322-323 Woodhead | CR 1949 120-122 Gomme | AHR LIV 1949 333-337 Dinsmoor | Gnomon 1949 129-135 Klaffenbach | MH 1949 227 Collart | RPh 1950 88 Daux; “Julian Dates and Greek Calendars,” CP 42 (1947) 235-43; “Greek Inscriptions,” Hesperia 16 (1947) 184-92; “Epheboi of Oineïs” in Commemorative Studies in Honor of Theodore Leslie Shear, Hesperia Suppl. VIII (Princeton: ASCSA, 1949) 273-8; “Liquid Rubber for Greek Epigraphy,” AJA 56 (1952) 118-20; Epigraphical Honor and the Hesperia Index,” AJA 56 (1952) 161-68; “Further Notes on Liquid Rubber,” AJA 57 (1953) 197-8; “The Attic Stelai, I,” Hesperia 22 (1953) 225-99; “Marble in Attic Epigraphy,” (with N. Herz) AJA 57 (1953) 71-83; “Sales Taxes in Ancient Athens,” Archaeology 7 (1954) 112-13; “The Conditional Sentence in Attic Greek,” AJP 76 (1955) 1-17; “Corrigenda to Index Aristophaneus,” CP 51 (1956) 102; “Fourth-Century Athenian Sales Taxes,” CP 51 (1956) 100-2; “The Attic Stelai, II,” Hesperia 25 (1956) 178-317; “Calendars of Athens Again,” BCH 81 (1957) 269-301; “New Light on Plataia,” AJA 61 (1957) 9-28; “Μή with the Participle,” AJP 79 (1958) 392-404; “Index to the Attic Stelai, Parts II-III,” Hesperia 27 (1958) 307-10; “New Light on Thermopylai,” AJA 62 (1958) 203-13; “Observations on Chaironeia,” AJA 62 (1958) 307-11; “The Athenian Lunar Month,” CP 54 (1959) 151-7; “Toward a Restudy of the Battle of Salamis,” AJA 63 (1959) 251-62; Marathon, University of California Publications in Classical Archaeology IV, 2 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960). REVS: CW LIV 1960 61 Starr | REA LXII 1960 511-513 Payrau | AC XXIX 1960 530 Cloché | AJA LXV 1961 402 McLeod | RPh XXXVI 1962 93 Will | Phoenix XVI 1962 121-122 Forrest | Mnemosyne XV 1962 78-80 Janssen | REG LXXV 1962 542-544 Lévêque | ArchClass XIII 1961 265 Colonna | JHS LXXXIII 1963 192 Beattie | AAHG XVI 1963 228 Schachermeyr; “Xerxes' Route over Mount Olympos,” AJA 65 (1961) 369-75; “Five New Fragments of the Attic Stelai,” Hesperia 30 (1961) 23-9; “Herodotos and the Themistokles Decree,” AJA 66 (1962) 43-7; Ancient Athenian Calendars on Stone, University of California Publications in Classical Archaeology IV, 4 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963) REVS: REA LXVI 1964 209-211 Pouilloux | MH XXII 1965 249 Meyer | AC XXXIV 1965 634-636 Donnay | RPh XXXIX 1965 298 Roesch | AJPh LXXXVI 1965 301-306 Huxley | AHR LXX 1965 840 McGregor | Gnomon XXXVIII 1966 475-480 Samuel | RH 1966 Nᵒ 235 498-501 Will | Mnemosyne XIX 1966 89-90 Woodhead | DLZ LXXXVII 1966 995-998 Koerner | ArchClass XXIII 1971 185-186 Ritti; “Xerxes' Fleet at the ‘Ovens’,” AJA 67 (1963) 1-6; “The Myth of Stoichedon Style,” in Akte des IV. internationalen Kongresses für griechische und lateinische Epigraphik (Wien, 17. bis 22. September 1962, μνήμης χάριν J. Keil (Cologne, Vienna: Böhlau, 1964) 331; “The Three-Barred Sigma at Kos,” BCH 87 (1963) 20-23; “Expenditures of Athena, 408-406 B.C., and the Hellenotamiai,” BCH 88 (1964) 455-81; “The Battle of Pylos and Sphacteria,” AJA 68 (1964) 198; “Thucydides V, 20,” Historia 13 (1964) 21-36; “An Open Question in List 9,” AJA 68 (1964) 400-1; “Suggested Changes in the Troizen Inscriptions,” (with D.A. Hardy) ABSA 59 (1964) 30-31; “Epigraphica restitute,” AJP 85 (1964) 40-55; “The Width of the Lapis Primus, A Correction,” CP 59 (1964) 272; “The Height of the Lapis Primus,” Historia 13 (1964) 129-34; Studies in Ancient Greek Topography, I , with an appendix by E. Vanderpool, University of California Publications in Classical Studies I (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965)  REVS: Phoenix XX 1966 175-176 Eliot | CW LIX 1966 194 Urdahl | Helmantica XVII 1966 158 Rodríguez | Gnomon XXXVIII 1966 587-592 Meyer | RPh XLI 1967 290-293 Roesch | CPh LXII 1967 147-148 Oost | REA LXXI 1969 159-160 Payrau; “The Thucydidean Summer of 411 B.C.,” CP 60 (1965) 259-61; “New Epigraphical Techniques and IG I 304B,” AJA 69 (1965) 173; “Gaming Tables and I.G. I² 324,” Hesperia 34 (1965) 131-47; “IG I² 220, Prepis or Menekles?,” AJA 70 (1966)  173-5; “The Top of the Lapis Primus,” GRBS 7 (1966) 123-9; “The Koan Fragment of the Athenian Monetary Decree,” (with A. Georgiadès) BCH 89 (1965) 400-40; “Engraving Techniques in Attic Epigraphy,” (with C.G. Higgins) AJA 69 (1965) 366-71; “The Location of the Lapis Primus,” GRBS 8 (1967) 113-19;  “The Intercalary Month at Athens,” CP 63 (1968) 53-4; “‘Five Lines’ and IG I² 324,” Calif. Stud. in Class. Ant. I (1968) 187-215; Studies in Ancient Greek Topography, II: Battlefields, University of California Publications in Classical Studies IV (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969) REVS: CPh LXV 1970 279 Oost | LEC XXXVIII 1970 413 Wankenne | AJP XCII 1971 365-367 Geagan | ArchClass XXIII 1971 309-314 Sommella | CR XXII 1972 130-131 Cook;  “Two Illustrated Epigraphical Notes,” AJA 73 (1969) 367-70; “The Case of the Disappearing Island,” Phoenix 23 (1969) 159-80; “The Transfer of the Delian Treasury,” Historia 18 (1969) 17-21; The Choiseul Marble University of California Publications in Classical Studies V (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970). REVS: REA LXXII 1970 435-437 Pouilloux | ArchClass XXIII 1971 185-186 Ritti | RPh XLV 1971 130 Roesch | CR XXII 1972 256-259 Lewis | CPh LXIX 1974 156-158 Calder; “The Name of the Game is Restoration,” CSCA 3 (1970) 199-214; Ancient Greek Military Practices, I, University of California Publications in Classical Studies VII (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971) REVS: AC XLI 1972 732-734 Daubies | JHS XCIII 1973 254-255 Hammond | RH XCVII 1973 N° 250 456-458 Will | RPh XLVII 1973 328 Gauthier | CR XXIV 1974 247-249 Snodgrass; “The Bridge over the Strymon. A Correction,” AJA 75 (1971) 92; “Kallias. Fact or Fancy?,” CSCA 4 (1971) 219-25; “Lucubrationes epigraphicae,” CSCA 5 (1972) 153-82; “IG I² 220, Affidavits,” (with T. Drew-Bear) REG 86 (1973) 35-44; “The Woodheadean Interpretation of Kleon's Amphipolitan Campaign,” Mnemosyne 26 (1973) 376-86; The Greek State at War, I (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974) REVS: G&R XXIII 1976 89-90 Percival | TLS LXXV 1976 444 Meiggs | CW LXXX 1976 278 Fornara; The Greek State at War, II (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974) REVS: G&R XXIII 1976 89-90 Percival | TLS LXXV 1976 444 Meiggs | CW LXXX 1976 278 Fornara ; CR XXVII 1977 70-71 Snodgrass; “The Calendar of the Athenian Civic Administration,” Phoenix 30 (1976) 337-56; “Non-Evidence for the Omitted Day,” ZPE 30 (1976) 185-92; “The Athenian Count of Days,” CSCA 9 (1976) 181-95; The Liar School of Herodotus (Amsterdam: Gieben, 1993) REVS: AC 1995 64: 284-285 Véronique Krings | CR 1995 45 (1): 15-17 Hugh Bowden | G&R 1995 42 (1): 90 Hans Van Wees | JHS 1996 116: 175-178 Rosalind Thomas | Lampas 1994 27 (3): 242-248 Albert Rijksbaron | LEC 1995 63 (1): 76-77 Marie-Laure Freyburger-Galland | BMCRev 1994 5: 159-162 Michelle Kwintner | Talanta 1994-1995 26-27: 220-223 Jan P. Stronk.

  • Notes:

    During his tenure as Professor of Greek in the Department of Classics at Berkeley and continuing well on into his retirement, Pritchett built an impressive international reputation as one of the most prolific and innovative scholars in his field. He was the author of more than thirty books and over one hundred articles on a wide range of topics including ancient Greek grammar and syntax, literature and historiography, topography and the arts of war, religion and political institutions, chronography and the study of inscriptions carved on marble. He was also a revered teacher at all levels of instruction. Remarkably, in view of his senior status, he insisted on continuing to teach Elementary Greek to beginning students as often as he could. In recognition of his devotion to teaching at this level, the Department of Classics established the Pritchett Prize in Greek, awarded annually to the most promising student completing Elementary Greek.

    Born in Atlanta, Pritchett retained his Southern manners and accent for the rest of his life. He attended a public high school in Atlanta—“four years of Latin and three of Greek”—where his closest friend was Dean Rusk, who was later to become Secretary of State.

    At the Institute for Advanced Study he served as assistant to the distinguished Greek epigraphist Benjamin D. Meritt, with whom he collaborated in publishing his first book, The Chronology of Hellenistic Athens. It was at this time also that Pritchett began to publish several recently discovered Greek inscriptions from the excavations of the American School of Classical Studies in the Athenian Agora and to make his mark as a first-rate epigraphist.

    Soon after Pearl Harbor, after being rejected by the Marines because he was too small, Pritchett enlisted in the Army Air Force, where he served with distinction from 1942 to 1945, rising from private to the rank of Captain. He was stationed first in the South Pacific and later in Germany, where he participated in the collection and presentation of evidence for the Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi war-criminals. As a future expert on ancient Greek warfare, Pritchett often echoed Edward Gibbon’s wry observation that his service as “the Captain of the Hampshire Grenadiers…has not been useless to the historian of the Roman empire.” He passed up a promising career in the military to return, after the Second World War, to the Institute in Princeton for one more year before taking up a teaching post at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. In 1948 came to Berkeley, where he remained for the rest of his career.  Upon his retirement he received The Berkeley Citation, the highest award the campus grants to one of its own members. His alma mater, Davidson College, awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1987 and instituted a student W. Kendrick Pritchett Prize. Duke University established a similar prize in his honor. 

    His years as Chairman of the Classics Department are considered especially formative for the department’s modern shape and distinction. He set high personal standards for the combination of teaching and research, while fostering a spirit of collegiality and building a team of devoted younger scholars, rather than attempting to bring in academic “stars” from outside. Among his lasting contributions at this time were the foundation of the Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology in 1968, which has won international recognition as the premier interdisciplinary program of graduate study in the field, while still maintaining rigorous requirements in at least two ancient languages. With his friend, August Frugé, Director of the University of California Press, he was the moving force in establishing the periodical California Studies in Classical Antiquity, which has now grown into the semiannual journal Classical Antiquity.

    It was also under Pritchett’s chairmanship that the officials of the Main Library on the Berkeley campus recognized the eminence of the Classics Department by expanding and upgrading its facilities into a world-class research and teaching unit within the Library.

    Through his numerous publications and innovative approaches, Pritchett became one of the most highly regarded authorities in the fields of Greek topography, military science and practice, and the intricacies of the Athenian calendar and time-reckoning. His Studies in Ancient Greek Topography in eight parts (1965-1992), the fruit of numerous trips to Greece and intense fieldwork, set new standards for thoroughness and accuracy, leading often to the confirmation of the veracity of historians like Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Polybios, in the face of attacks on their reliability from armchair pundits. Many of these excursions in Greece were in the company of Eugene Vanderpool and, later, John Camp, later Director of the Agora Excavations.

    To visit an ancient battlefield or site with Pritchett was like being accompanied by a library, for he had mastered in advance the texts of all the ancient authors, the accounts of the travelers of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and all contemporary scholarship. The emphasis fell on making new discoveries. Pritchett’s magisterial The Greek State at War in 5 volumes explores all aspects of military engagement including battle strategy and tactics, provisioning, soldiers’ pay, pre- and post-battle religious observances, the distribution of booty and a host of other topics. In addition to becoming the classic work of reference in its field, this book, in the words of Moses Finley, then Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge, “amounts to a reexamination of the Greek city-state of the fourth century B.C. with a shattering critique of several received views.” In 1976 the second volume of this great work received the Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit of the American Philological Association.

    Kendrick Pritchett was a combative scholar who flourished in the rough and tumble of scholarly debate. While still at Princeton, before he was forty, he published Calendars of Athens with Otto Neugebauer, a leading historian of ancient science at Brown University. Renouncing published views he earlier shared with his mentor and collaborator, B. D. Meritt, Pritchett mounted a spirited defense of a lunar-observed calendar in ancient Athens and of the organization of the year of the Council of Five Hundred as described by Aristotle in his Constitution of the Athenians. Meritt adopted a more flexible constitutional system and relied more heavily on the evidence for the calendar in Athenian inscriptions. Hence was born a long and often bitter controversy between the two leading scholars in America on Attic time-reckoning and inscriptions. It was to continue until Meritt’s death in 1989. Discussion of the details of the Athenian calendar became in their hands so abstruse that for decades few other scholars have ventured into the jungle. This episode in the study of ancient Athens awaits its impartial historian.

    Among his many contributions to the field of Greek inscriptions, in which he broke new ground by involving geologists and pioneering novel methods, is his meticulous investigation and publication of a series of at least ten marble slabs carrying the record of a public auction of the confiscated properties of Alcibiades and his associates, convicted of treason in Athens in 414 B.C. Preserved are minute details about their slaves, land, furniture, even their pottery, all listed separately with the sales tax added: “The Attic Stelai” in Hesperia (1953-1961).

    Upon his retirement in 1976, Pritchett embarked on a virtual second career. Free of teaching and administrative duties, he devoted himself almost exclusively to research and publication, maintaining a rigorous daily schedule of five hours of study in the early morning, followed by a hike on the steep trails of nearby Tilden Park, and then five more hours in the late afternoon and evening. He followed this regimen seven days a week, including all holidays, for almost three decades. Pritchett continued to drive to campus twice daily until well into his nineties. The Classics seminar room in the Main Library where he worked has been named in his honor.

    As a connoisseur of fine wines, Pritchett amassed an impressive cellar in his Berkeley home and was often called in for special tasting by wine-merchants in Berkeley and San Francisco. Pritchett’s wife was the sister of the distinguished Harvard historian and epigraphist, Sterling Dow.

  • Sources:

    R.S. Stroud, APA Newsletter (June 2007) 7-9; WhAm 40 (1979) 2625; DAS, 8,3.

  • Author: Ronald S. Stroud