North American Scholar

SAMUEL, Alan Edouard

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1932-07-24
  • Born City: Queens
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: Edgar Aaron & Hortense Kesner
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2008-08-15
  • Death City: Toronto, ON
  • Death State/Country: Canada
  • Married: Doris Lichtenthal, 10 June 1953; Deborah Hobson, 13 June 1964; Valerie Stevens, 15 February 1975; Sandra Campbell
  • Education:

    B.A. Hamilton College, 1953; M.A., Yale, 1957; Ph.D., 1959.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. classics, Yale, 1959-63; asst. prof., 1963-6; asso. prof., U. Toronto, 1966-9; prof. anc. hist., 1969-97; Guggenheim fell., 1983-4; sec.-treas. American Society of Papyrologists, 1963-73; pres. American Society of Papyrologists, 1973; ed. BASP 1963-72; ed. American Studies in Papyrology, 1963-72; pres. A.M. Hakkert, Ltd.; pres. Rostovtzeff-Wells Library; pres. Edgar Kent Publ, 1997-2005.

  • Dissertation:

    "Ptolemaic Chronology: Soter, Philadelphus, and Euergetes" (Yale, 1959). 

  • Publications:

    “Six Papyri from Hamilton College,” JJP 13 (1961) 33-51; Ptolemaic Chronology, Münchener Beitr. zur Papyrusforsch. 43 (Munich: Beck, 1962). REVS: AC XXXIV 1965 322-324 Bingen | CW LVII 1963 136 Robinson | RD XLI 1903 648-650 Bonneau | Gnomon XXXVI 1964 694-696 Volkmann | CR XIV 1964 316-319 Fraser | CE XXXIX 1964 216-220 Préaux | CPh LIX 1964 284-286 Oost | BO XXI 1964 309-313 Uebel | Lychnos 1963-1964 406-407 Collinder; “Plutarch's Account of Solon's Reforms,” GRBS 4 (1963) 231-6; “Illumination by Castor Oil,” BASP 1 (1963-4) 32-8; “P. Beinecke Inv. 4, A New Fragment of Demosthenes,” BASP 2 (1964) 33-40; “P. Yale (Beinecke) Inv. 1789, A Certificate for Work on the Embankments,” BASP 2 (1965) 105-8; “Alexander's Royal Journals,” Historia 14 (1965) 1-12; “Year 27 = 30 and 88 B.C.,” CE 40 (1965) 376-400; “The Role of Paramone Clauses in Ancient Documents,” JJP 15 (1965) 221-311; The Mycenaeans in History (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1966). REVS: CW LX 1966 164 Lang | Athene (Chicago) XXVII,3 1966 30 Rexine | CB XLIII 1967 47-48 Rexine | Phoenix XXI 1967 135-137 Buck | CR XVII 1967 113 Boardman | Archaeology XX 1967 313 Vermeule | RPh XLII 1968 320 Will; “The Internal Organization of the Nomarch's Bureau in the Third Century B. C.,” ASPap 1 (1966) 213-29; “The Judicial Competence of the Oikonomos in the Third Century B. C.,” Atti dell'xi Congresso internazionale di Papirologia, Milano 2-8 settembre 1965 (Milan: 1st. Lombardo di Scienze e Lett., 1966) 444-50; “The Days of ‘Hesiod's’ Month,” TAPA 97 (1966) 421-9; Yale Papyri in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, I, ed. with J.F. Oates & C.B. Welles (New Haven: American Society of Papyrologists, 1967). REVS: RD XLVII 1969 89-93 Modrzejewski | ZRG LXXXVI 1969 448-459 Wolff | CE XLIII 1968 395-405 Préaux | Iura XIX 1968 363-364; “An Early Papyrus Text of Isocrates. P. Yale Inv. 2082,” in Essays on Manuscripts, Books and Printing Written for H. P. Kraus (Berlin: Mann, 1967) 17-23; “P. Tebt. 703 and the oikonomos, II,” in Studi in onore di Ed. Volterra, I-VI (Milan: Giuffrè, 1969-1970) 451-60; “The Greek Element in the Ptolemaic Bureaucracy,” Proceedings of the Twelfth International Congress of Papyrology, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 12-17 August 1968, ed. D.H. Samuel (Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1970) 443-53; “The Joint Regency of Cleopatra and Cesarion,” EPap 9 (1971) 73-9; Death and Taxes. Ostraka in the Royal Ontario Museum, with W.K. Hastings, A.K. Bowman, & R.S. Bagnall (Amsterdam & Toronto: Hakkert, 1971). REVS: CE XLVIII 1973 381-382 Bingen | BO XXX 1973 216-218 Wagner | Phoenix XXVII 1973 80-88 Derow P. S. & E. O. | JEA LIX 1973 273-274 Parsons | BASP X 1973 99-101 Shelton; I. von Mueller Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, I. Abt., 7. Tei: Greek and Roman Chronology. Calendars and Years in Classical Antiquity, with others (Munich: Beck, 1972). REVS: CR XXV 1975 69-72 Lewis | REG LXXXVII 1974 420-421 Daux | Augustinus XX 1975 200 Orosio | Th&Ph XLVIII 1973 303 Podskalsky | ChHist XLII 1973 421-422 Simon | AC XLII 1973 343-344 Muszynski | BBF XVII 1972 880-882 Ernst | RD L 1972 615-616 Bickerman | CE XLVII 1972 328-329 Bingen | Byzantion XLII 1972 623 Muszynski; Ostraka in the Royal Ontario Museum, II, with R.S. Bagnall (Toronto: Stevens, 1976); Treasures of Canada (Toronto: Samuel-Stevens, 1980; 2nd ed. 1995, 3rd ed. 1998); From Athens to Alexandria: Hellenism and Social Goals in Ptolemaic Egypt, Studia Hellenistica 26 (Leuven 1983); “Between Marathon and Salamis. Aristotle's View, II,” in Μνήμη Γεωργίου #Α. Πετροπούλου (Petropoulos) 1897-1964, II, ed. A. Biscardi, J. Mélèze-Modrzejewski, Hans Julius Wolff & P.D. Dimakis (Athens: Sakkoulas, 1984) 285-309; “The Money Economy and the Ptolemaic Peasantry,” BASP 21 (1984) 187-206; “The Earliest Elements in the Alexander Romance,” Historia 35 (1986) 427-37; The Promise of the West. The Greek World, Rome and Judaism (London: Routledge, 1988). REVS: G&R XXXVI 1989 125 Walcot | TLS 1989 93 Goodman | RPh LXII 1988 351-352 des Places | CW LXXXIV 1990-1991 60 Papalas | LEC LX 1992 176-177 H. Leclercq | RBPh 1991 69 (1): 224-225 Pierre Salmon; The Shifting Sands of History. Interpretations of Ptolemaic Egypt, Publ. of the Assoc. of Ancient Historians 2 (Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America, 1989). REVS: CR XL 1990 507-508 Thompson ; CW LXXXIV 1990-1991 260-261 Bianchi ; Phoenix XLV 1991 361-365 Green ; Gnomon LXIII 1991 463-465 E. Van't Dack; The Greeks in History (Toronto: Kent, 1992). REVS: BMCRev 4 1993 60-62 M. Lang | CR 44 1994 101-102 H. Bowden | CW 87 1993-1994 521-522 J. D. Harrington | Phoenix 1995 49 (1) 78-79 Luis A. Losada; “The Ptolemies and the Ideology of Kingship" in Hellenistic History and Culture, ed. Peter Green (Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1993) 168-210; “Athenian Democracy and the Idea of Stability,” in The Eye Expanded: Life and the Arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity, ed. Frances B. Titchener and Richard F. Moorton (Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1999) 52-61; Heirs of Achilles (Toronto: Edgar Kent, 2008).

  • Notes:

    Alan Samuel spent three years in the U. S. Navy before entering the graduate program in Classics at Yale University in 1956. His first book, Ptolemaic Chronology,  was the published version of his dissertation (1959), written under the direction of C. Bradford Welles. After his Ph.D., he was appointed to the faculty at Yale, where he taught until 1966. He moved in that year to the University of Toronto, where he was Professor of Greek and Roman History until his retirement in 1997.

    Samuel had an extraordinary range of scholarly interests, some distant from the concerns of the American Society of Papyrologists, of which he was the effective leader through its first decade, or of either of the departments he served. His second book, for example, was The Mycenaeans in History, an attempt (as the title suggests) to treat the late Bronze Age as an historical, rather than archaeological subject. And his later books for a general or student audience, The Promise of the West: The Greek World, Rome and Judaism (London 1988) and The Greeks in History (Toronto 1992), bore witness to the sweep of his interests. They were interspersed with books closer to his original focus on chronology and Ptolemaic history. He was also co-editor, with Welles and John Oates, of P.Yale I, and co-editor (with Alan Bowman and Roger Bagnall) of the two volumes of Ostraka in the Royal Ontario Museum. It would be fair to say, however, that Samuel was principally an historian rather than an editor of texts.

    This list of books, however, gets no closer than the facts of Samuel’s career to giving a sense of the distinctive individual behind them. Most importantly, he was never just an academic. His restless nature would never have permitted that. While at Yale, he became involved in politics, leading an effort to get Connecticut to support the nomination of Adlai Stevenson for president, for a third time, in 1960. He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Connecticut’s congressman-at-large position in 1962 and was involved in SANE (an organization against nuclear weapons) in the following years. In Toronto, he became involved in community organizing against large-scale destructive redevelopment of inner-city neighborhoods (in one of which he lived) and then in city-wide politics, as a group of his friends sought to take control of city government away from the friends of the developers. A number of these friends were elected aldermen, and in my graduate school years the Samuel house was perpetually the center of politics—this in a city to which Samuel had moved relatively recently and in a country (Canada) of which he was not yet a citizen.

    Somehow, all of this was going on at the same time as he was running the publication operations of the Society, with its growing number of monographs leading to the creation of a Toronto subsidiary of Adolf M. Hakkert’s firm (at that time located in Amsterdam); the acquisiton of Welles’s library after his death and its cataloguing (with the help of public job-creation funds); the transfer of the unpublished Hibeh papyri from London to Toronto; and much else including the ROM ostraka editing project, for which he had a grant from the Canada Council. He had exceptional gifts of persuasion, and he understood the art of getting grants far before most scholars in the humanities even thought of trying. The first papyrology summer school benefited from one of the earliest grants of what was to become the National Endowment for the Humanities. Over the course of time, publishing came to take over more and more of his time, as his firms took various corporate forms and published in a variety of fields unrelated to antiquity, and his university roles less. In 1974 he began farming wheat, spelt and soybeans, an activity that continued through the rest of his life alongside, later on, a new publishing firm. His later writing included Canadian history and two novels. He was a brilliant and charming talker, with ideas cascading forth continually. He was also strikingly less formal than most professors, rather in the spirit of the sixties, and at a substantive level he had absorbed Welles’s habit of treating students as younger colleagues.

    Alan Samuel was the engine of the ASP’s first decade. The senior figures of the discipline were also heavily engaged, and Samuel always credited Welles above all with understanding the need for an ASP if papyrology, then almost vanishingly small, was to have a future in North America. But the program of annual meeting, Bulletin, American Studies in Papyrology, and summer seminars would not have materialized except for Samuel’s energy and organization. The latter may seem a strange term for the chaotic figure described in the preceding few paragraphs, but in fact he was gifted at organization and working with boards, and he was a director of the American Philological Association and a member of the Comité International de Papyrologie, both at a young age.

    Like many products of Yale in that era, above all John Oates, Alan Samuel had a strong sense of the Rostovtzeff tradition and his place in it. As Welles had become a kind of son to the childless Rostovtzeff, Samuel saw himself as one of Welles’s scholarly offspring.

  • Sources:

    WhAm 38 (1974-5) 2688; Roger S. Bagnall, BASP 46 (2009) 7-9.

  • Author: Roger S. Bagnall