North American Scholar

ROSENMEYER, Thomas Gustav

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1920-04-03
  • Born City: Hamburg
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2007-02-06
  • Death City: Oakland
  • Death State/Country: CA
  • Married: Lilo, 1951
  • Education:

    B.A., McMaster, 1944; M.A., U. Toronto, 1945; Ph.D. Harvard, 1949. 

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. to asst. prof. classics State University of Iowa, 1947-52; asst. prof. Smith College, 1952-5; asst, prof. to prof., University of Washington, 1955-66; prof. Greek & Comp. Lit., 1966-  vis. prof. ASCSA, 1961-2; vis. prof., Princeton, fall 1975.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Isle of Critias" (Harvard, 1949).

  • Publications:

    “The Family of Critias,” AJP 72 (1949) 404-10; “The Numbers in Plato's Critias. A Reply,” CP 44 (1949) 117-20; “The Verb ἁμαρτάνω in Homer,” CW 43 (1950) 211-14; “Eros, Erotes,” Phoenix 5 (1951) 11-22; “The Wrath of Oedipus,” Phoenix 6 (1952) 92-112; The Discovery of the Mind. The Greek Origins of European Thought (trans. from the 2nd ed. of Die Entdeckung des Geistes with the addition of one essay) (Oxford & Malden, MA: Blackwell; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953). REVS: CR n.s. IV 1954 299 Tate | CW XLVII 1954 107 Kirkwood | CB XXX 1954 59 Costelloe | G&R 2nd Ser. I 1954 92 | JHS LXXIV 1954 214 Rose | JPh LII 1955 349-358 Merlan | RSPh XXXIX 1955 133 Dubois | CJ LI 1956 346 Hoerber; “Gorgias, Aeschylus and ἀπάτη,” AJP 76 (1955) 225-60; “Phaedo 111c4ff,” CQ 50 (1956) 193-7; “Plato's Atlantis Myth. Timaeus or Critias?,” Phoenix 10 (1956) 163-72; “Hesiod and Historiography (Erga 106-201),” Hermes 85 (1957) 257-85 (repr. as "Hesiod und die Geschichtsschreibung" in Hesiod ed. E. Heitsch, Wege der Forschung 44 (Darmstadt, 1966) 602-48); “Plato and Mass Words,” TAPA 88 (1957) 88-102; “Platonic Scholarship, 1945-1955,” CW 50 (1957) 173-202 & 209-211; “The Shape of the Earth in the Phaedo. A Rejoinder,” Phronesis 4 (1959) 71-72; “Hubris and the Greeks,” Hubris, Man and Education. Papers Delivered at the Inauguration of J. L. Jarrett 1959 (Bellingham, WA: Western Washington Coll. of Educ. 1959) 19-30; “Plato's Hypothesis and the Upward Path,” AJP 81 (1960) 393-407; “Virgil and Heroism. AeneidXI,” CJ 55 (1960) 159-64;  “Seven against Thebes. The Tragedy of War,” Arion 1,1 (1962) 48-78; “Plato's Prayer to Pan (Phaedrus 279B8-C3),” Hermes 90 (1962) 34-44; The Masks of Tragedy. Essays on Six Greek Dramas, with decorations by D.L. Weismann (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963). REVS: CW LVI 1963 289 McKay | AJPh LXXXV 1964 220-221 Stow | Phoenix XVIII 1964 241 Shepherd | CJ LIX 1964 227-228 Levin | CPh LIX 1964 279-281 Burnett | REG LXXVII 1964 331 Dreyfus | RBPh XLII 1964 1092-1094 Janssens | MH XXII 1965 241 Hauser | Gnomon XXXVII 1965 334-338 Schwinge | CR XV 1965 197-198 Baldry; The Meters of Greek and Latin Poetry, (with J.W. Halporn & M. Ostwald) (London: Methuen, 1963; rev. ed., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980) REVS: Gnomon XXXV 1963 740-742 Korzeniewski | Latomus XXII 1963 540-541 Perret | Mnemosyne XVIII 1965 401-403 Koster | Phoenix XIX 1965 153-159 | Herington PACA XI 1968 67-68 Guite | CJ LXXVIII 1982 71-72 Fleming; “The Formula in Early Greek Poetry,” Arion 4 (1965) 295-311; “Alcman's Partheneion I Reconsidered,”GRBS 7 (1966) 321-59; "Theocritus and His Successors: The Loss of Discretion," in Actes du 4e Congress de l'Association Internationale de Literature Compare, Fribourg 1964 (The Hague, 1966) 1008-17; “Elegiac and Elegos,”CSCA 1 (1968) 217-31; “The Rookie. A Reading of Pindar, Nemean 1,” CSCA 2 (1969) 233-46; The Green Cabinet. Theocritus and the European Pastoral Lyric (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1969). REVS: CW LXIV 1970 87 Levin | CPh LXVI 1971 291-292 Pavlovskis | G&R XVIII 1971 104 Sewter | Phoenix XXV 1971 291 Grant | Hermathena CXI 1971 78-79 Stanford | CR XXII 1972 120-121 Clarke | Gnomon XLIV 1972 750-757 Köhnken | CJ LXIX 1973 160-163 Lawall | Mnemosyne XXVI 1973 191-193 McKay | PVS XIII 1973-1974 54 Currie | Arcadia IX 1972 182-183 Köhnken; “Ecloga epicurea,” in Philomathes. Studies and Essays in the Humanities in Memory of Philip Merlan, ed. R.B. Palmer & R. Hamerton-Kelly ( The Hague: Nijhoff, 1971) 447-60; “Notes on Aristophanes' Birds,”AJP 93 (1972) 223-38; "Interdisciplinary Studies: Forms and Limits," ADLF (Bulletin of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages) 4 (1972) 19-27; “Design and Execution in Aristotle, Poetics Ch. XXV,” CSCA 6 (1973) 231-52; “Irony and Tragic Choruses,” in Ancient and Modern. Essays in Honor of Gerald F. Else, ed. J.H. D'Arms & J.W. Eadie (Ann Arbor: Center for Coördination of Ancient & Modern Stud., Univ. of Michigan, 1977) 31-44; “Wahlakt und Entscheidungsprozess in der antiken Tragödie,” Poetica 10 (1978) 1-24; “On Snow and Stones,”CSCA 11 (1978) 209-25; “Drama,” in The Legacy of Greece. A New Appraisal, ed. M.I. Finley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981) 120-54; "Aristotelian Ethos and Character in Modern  Drama," Proceedings of the IXth Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association, Innsbruck 1979, vol. 1: Classical Models in Literature (Innsbruck, 1981) 119-25; "The Nouvelle Critique and the Classicist," CLS 18,3 (1981) 215-29; The Art of Aeschylus (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982). REVS: CJ LXXVIII 1983 264-266 Ganz | G&R XXX 1983 211-212 Silk | JHS CIV 1984 195 Garvie | Phoenix XXXVIII 1984 275-279 Podlecki | EMC XXIX 1985 155-162 Conacher | CO LXI 1984 99-100 Gantz | CompLit XXXVII 1985 178-180 Gagarin | AJPh CVI 1985 515-517 Lupher | CB LX 1984 106-107 Spindler; “History or Poetry? The Example of Herodotus,” Clio 11 (1982) 239-59; “φαντασία und Einbildungskraft. Zur Vorgeschichte eines Leitbegriffs der europäischen Ästhetik,” Poetica 18 (1986) 197-248; “Euripides' Hecuba. Horror Story or Tragedy?,” in International Meeting of Ancient Greek Drama, Delphi 8-12 April 1984, Delphi 4-25 June 1985, intro. by Nearchou Pericles (Athens: European Cultural Center of Delphi, 1987) 264-70;Deina ta polla. A Classicist's Checklist of Twenty Literary-Critical Positions, Arethusa monographs XII (Buffalo: State University of New York, 1988). REVS: CR XXXVIII 1988 423 Goldhill | GIF XLI 1989 132 Zizzari | AC LVIII 1989 309-310 Donnet; Senecan Drama and Stoic Cosmology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989). REVS: CR XL 1990 277-279 Mayer | JRS LXXX 1990 213-214 Costa | G&R XXXVII 1990 109-110 Fowler | RenQ XLIII 1990 641-643 Levitan | Isis LXXXII 1991 552-553 Santirocco | CPh LXXXVI 1991 248-252 Inwood | CW LXXXV 1991-1992 63-64 Makowski | Gnomon LXIII 1991 399-402 M. Billerbeck | AncPhil XII 1992 479-483 Brown | AJPh CXIII 1992 122-125 Boyle | LEC LIX 1991 298 B. Rochette | CompLit 45 1993 66-68 G. Braden; “Decision-Making,”Apeiron 23, 4 (1990) 187-218; “Apollonius Lyricus,” SIFC 10 (1992) 177-98; “Beginnings in Plutarch's Lives,” YCS29 (1992) 205-30; “Styles and Performances, and Plato's Merio,” in Philanthropia kai eusebeia: Festschrift für Albrecht Dihle zum 70 Geburtstag, ed. Glenn W. Most, Hubert Petersmann & Adolf M. Ritter (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993) 404-25;“Seneca's Oedipus and Performance: the Manto Scene,” in Theater and Society in the Classical World, ed. Ruth Scodel (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993) 235-44; “Elusory Voices: Thoughts about the Sophoclean Chorus,” in Nomodeiktes: Greek Studies in Honor of Martin Ostwald, ed. Ralph M. Rosen & Joseph Farrell (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993) 557-71; “Persuasion, Power, Possession,” SCI 12 (1993) 75-85; “Ironies in Serious Drama,” in Tragedy and the Tragic: Greek Theatre and Beyond, ed. Michael Stephen Silk (Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1996) 497-533; “Sensation and Taste in Lucretius,” SCI 15 (1996) 135-51; “Name-Setting and Name-Using: Elements of Socratic Foundationalism in Plato'sCratylus,” AncPhil 18,1 (1998) 41-60; “One Strike Will Do: A Lucretian Puzzle,” SCI 18 (1999) 25-44; “Seneca and Nature,” Arethusa 33,1 (2000) 99-119; “Myths by the Cluster: Review Article,” IJCT 7,1 (2000-2001) 66-81; “Le mythe moralisé: Review Article,” IJCT 7,4 (2000-2001) 541-8; “‘Metatheater’: An Essay on Overload,” Arion 3rd ser. 10, 2 (2002-2003) 87-119.

  • Notes:

    Tom Rosenmeyer fled his native Hamburg for England in the late 1930s, where he was interned as a German citizen and then trans­ferred to an internment camp in Canada. During and after the war, he completed an undergraduate degree at McMaster University near Toronto and went on to do his doctoral studies at Harvard. After highly successful years teaching Clas­sics at the State University of Iowa, Smith College, and the University of Washington, he arrived at Berkeley in 1966 to a joint posi­tion in Classics and Comparative Literature; and he im­mediately became one of the main shaping forces of that new, and soon preeminent, program. At Berkeley, Tom Rosenmeyer was admired and loved as a deeply learned, wide-ranging and loyal colleague, a warm friend and mentor, and a stalwart servant of his two departments and of the humanities. He served terms as chair of each department and as Acting Dean of Humanities, helped to organize what is now the Townsend Center for the Humanities, and was selected by the Academic Senate to be Faculty Research Lecturer in 1990. Upon his retirement in 1990 he received the Ber­keley Citation, the highest award available to faculty for a distinguished career of teaching, service, and scholar­ship. To mark his 70th birthday in that same spring, he was presented with a Festschrift with contributions from his friends, colleagues and former students entitled Cabi­net of the Muses. As a scholar, Tom Rosenmeyer became one of the lead­ing expositors in his generation of classical Greek litera­ture, with his distinctive combination of traditional philol­ogy and flexible, finely-nuanced literary analysis. He was able to draw skillfully both on philosophically-based aes­thetic theory (German as well as Anglo-American) as well as an impressive range of literary-critical models— the fruit of his formidably wide and deep reading. In his early career he published numerous articles on Plato. His first book, The Masks of Tragedy (1963), collected several provocative essays on Greek plays. The Green Cabinet: Theocritus and the European Pastoral Tra­dition (1969) is an excellent example of his compara­tive approach, as it brings a wide-ranging chronological and cultural perspective to the study of Greek and Latin poetry, points up interconnections between literature and philosophy, and shows the continuing relevance of the classics for the understanding of later literature. The Art of Aeschylus (1982) is likewise a remarkable tour de force, erudite, sophisticated, and pithily written; and, in a late turn to Latin literature, Senecan Drama and Stoic Cosmology (1989) argues for an original thesis concerning the interconnection of Stoicism with Seneca's tragedies. In these books and in numerous shorter contributions, such as his brilliant chapter on drama in M.I. Finley's The Legacy of Greece (1981), as well as in his work as an editor, the important characteristics of Tom Rosenmeyer's scholarship were these: sensitive and provocative attention to the ancient texts in the light of an immense range of ancient and modern literature; fa­cility in pinpointing those aspects and techniques of Re­naissance and modern texts which significantly borrow from, continue, or consciously modify ancient models; interest in the connections between literature and the contemporary currents of philosophical thought; scru­tiny of the interplay and tension between literary theory and literary practice; openness to the ambiguities and imprecisions of both literary expression itself and the interpretative strategies of scholars. Beyond Berkeley, the distinction of Tom Rosenmeyer was acknowledged by the award of two Guggenheim Fellowships, his election to both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and his service as President of the American Philological Association in 1989. He lectured both in this country and abroad. Before and after his retirement in 1990 he held a number of visiting appointments, in­cluding a semester as Visiting Professor at Harvard. Although hampered in his last years by deafness, which made it difficult for him to attend social gatherings and lectures, he maintained his one-on-one connections with his friends and colleagues, communicated far and wide by email, and pursued an active life of reading, research, and writing. He was physically and mentally active right up to the end.

  • Sources:

    Robert Alter, PAMPS 153,2 (June 2009) 233-7; WhWhWest; DAS 8,3: 448; Donald Mastronarde, Mark Griffith, Anthony Long, Robert Alter, APA Newsletter (February 2007).

  • Author: Donald Mastronarde, Mark Griffith, Anthony Long, Robert Alter