A.B. Harvard, 1878; studied law, 1878-80; study at Leipzig, 1881-2; Bonn, 1882; ASCSA 1882-3; Ph.D. Munich, 1884; LL.D., Iowa Coll., 1905; U. Missouri, 1913; Johns Hopkins, 1915; U. Michigan, 1915; U. Colorado, 1917; Princeton, 1920; U. Pennsylvania, 1921; Litt.D., U. Wisconsin, 1911; Brown, 1914; Harvard, 1925; D. Lettres & Philos. U. Liege (Belgium), 1924.
"De Platonis idearum doctrina atque mentis humanae notionibus commentatio" (Munich, 1884); printed Selected Papers, 253-313; trans. "A Dissertation on Plato's Theory of Forms and on the Concepts of the Human Mind" by R. S. W. Hawtrey, with preface by R. K. Sprague, Ancient Philosophy 2 (1982) 1-59.
- Professional Experience:
Adm. to Illinois Bar, 1880; prof. Lat. & philos. Bryn Mawr, 1885-92; prof. Gk. U. Chicago, 1892-1927; head class, dept., 1896-1927; ann. asso. dir. ASCSA, 1901-2; ed. CP, 1908-34; pres. APA, 1909-10; Turnbull lctr. (Johns Hopkins), 1912; Martin lctr. (Harvard), 1912; Roosevelt Exchange Prof. Berlin, 1913-4; Harris lctr. Northwestern, 1916; Sather prof., 1916, 1919, 1928; Lowell Inst. lctr. (Boston), 1916; Martin lctr. (Oberlin), 1930; mem. NIAL; AAAL, 1915-34.
"On the Implicit Ethics and Psychology of Thucydides," TAPA 24 (1893) 66-68; "The Idea of the Good in Plato's Republic," University of Chicago Studies in Classical Philology 1 (1895) 214-215; Horace. Odes and Epodes (Boston, 1898; rev. with G. J. Laing, 1910); The Unity of Plato's Thought (Chicago, 1903; repr. New York, 1968; New York, 1980); "Choriambic Dimeter and the Rehabilitation of the Antispast," TAPA 38 (1907) 57-88; "The Case for the Classics," School Review 18 (1910) 585-617; "American Scholarship," Nation 92, no. 2393 (11 May 1911) 466-9; review of White's Verse of Greek Comedy, CP 8 (1913) 99-104; "The Assault on Humanism," Atlantic Monthly 119 (June 1917) 793-801; ibid. 120 (July 1917) 94-105 (published separately as an Atlantic Monograph in 1917); "Fifty Years of Classical Studies in America," TAPA 50 (1919) 33-61; review of Wilamowitz' Griechische Verskunst, CP 17 (1922) 150-3; "The Issue in Greek Metric," CP 19 (1924) 169-74; The Creative Intelligence and Modern Life (Boulder, CO, 1928); "Evolution: A Conservative's Apology," Atlantic Monthly 142 (October 1928) 475-88; What Plato Said (Chicago, 1933); Plato. The Republic (trans.), LCL, 2 vols. (Cambridge & London, 1930 and 1935); Platonism Ancient and Modern (Berkeley, 1938); Selected Papers, ed. Leonardo Taran, 2 vols. (New York, 1980); The Roosevelt Lectures of Paul Shorey (1913-1914), trans. with notes by Edgar C. Reinke, ed. Ward W. Briggs & E. Christian Kopff, intro. E. Christian Kopff (Hildesheim: Olms, 1995).
Paul Shorey was the proponent of a famous theory of Plato, helped found and was managing editor of Classical Philology (1908-1934), was an able theorist and practitioner of the pedagogy of the Greek and Latin languages and was a well-known social and cultural conservative and nationalist. As the first Professor of Greek at the University of Chicago from 1892-1927, he directed over fifty dissertations and was an important influence in the development of classical philology in the United States from a philo-Germanic bias to a pro-English attitude.
Shorey was born in Davenport, Iowa, but afterwards his family moved to Chicago, Illinois. Although Shorey traveled as student and lecturer over much of Europe and the United States, he lived most of his life in Chicago and died there in 1934. Shorey’s father, Daniel Lewis Shorey, was a prominent Chicago lawyer with a taste for the classics, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago. Daniel and his wife, Maria Antoinette (Merriam), were not conventional Midwesterners. Shorey remembered, “Instead of prescribed Josephus or Fox’s Book of Martyrs, I read The Origin of Species aloud to my mother at the age of nine.” A youthful radical, he refused to attend even “a left-wing Unitarian Sunday school.” At his graduation from Chicago High School, the text for his commencement address was Shelley’s “Happiness and Science dawn, though late, upon the earth.” He went on to study at Harvard, where reading Plato freed him from the influence of Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). Harvard, “that hotbed of infidelity, destroyed my faith” in Spencer, Shelley, and evolution.
Shorey returned to Chicago to work at his father’s law firm and was admitted to the Illinois bar (1880). The law, however, was not his vocation, and he went to Europe to study at the Universities of Leipzig (1881-82) and Bonn (1882) and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (1882-83). He then went to Munich, where his dissertation (1884) was directed by Wilhelm Christ (1831-1906), who mentioned Shorey in his Platonische Studien (Munich, 1885: 3-4). Shorey had already begun his dissertation before going to Christ and was thoroughly at home in the classics, especially in the writings of Plato. His phenomenal memory and nearly total recall of Plato’s writings impressed the German scholar.
Shorey was among the faculty (which also included Woodrow Wilson) called to Bryn Mawr by M. Carey Thomas (1857-1935), the second president of the college. While at Bryn Mawr (1885-1892) he became friends with Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve (1831-1924) of Johns Hopkins University, who became his model and living proof that an American might hope to attain great things in classics. Shorey taught philosophy and Latin as well as Greek and worked on a school text of Horace’s Odes, which he finished during his early years at Chicago (1898; often reprinted). The edition devotes much room to parallels not only from the poet himself but from English poetry. The assiduous collection of parallels reflects Shorey’s wide reading and his pedagogy. “In no other way can the right atmosphere for the enjoyment of the Odes be so easily created.... The student should be taught to distinguish carefully conscious imitation, interesting coincidences, and the mere commonplaces of poetic rhetoric and imagery.” The text received a favorable review from J. P. Postgate (CR 15  230). When coeditor Gordon J. Laing removed some of the parallels from the revised edition of 1910, Basil Gildersleeve devoted a memorable “Brief Mention” to praise of Shorey and the first edition (AJP 31  485-6). Already at Bryn Mawr, Shorey was impressing and terrifying students with his vast recall of the poetry of Greek, Latin, French, and English. He insisted on command of meter and the value of reading aloud.
In 1892 Shorey returned to Chicago as first Professor of Greek at President William Rainey Harper’s (1856-1906) University of Chicago. He spent the years until 1903 developing a short but significant essay, “The Unity of Plato’s Thought.” To appreciate his insight, a little background is needed. Stylistic analysis, beginning with the great Scottish scholar Lewis Campbell (1830-1908), had been able to establish three main periods in Plato’s voluminous writings. It rather naturally became the fashion to analyze Plato’s own intellectual development as falling into those three periods. There are, however, problems with stylistic analysis based on this division. Some individual dialogues are hard to place, and the culmination of the second period, the Republic, begins with a book that is placed by stylistic criteria in the middle of the first period. Shorey burst into the (largely Germanic) scholarly discussion like a bull into a china shop. In his own words, “My thesis is simply that Plato on the whole belongs rather to the type of thinkers whose philosophy is fixed in early maturity (Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer), rather than to the class of those who receive a new revelation every decade (Schelling). And I have tried to show that the method which proceeds on the contrary assumption leads to misinterpretation of his writings.” (Shorey had said this already in AJP 9  276, and it also forms the basis for his discussion of Plato in his dissertation.) Although the idea of Plato’s gradual evolution remains the dominant one in Platonic studies, Shorey’s case (which resembles the views of Friedrich Schleiermacher [1768-1834]) has always won a minority assent, including that of such important scholars as Hans von Arnim (1859-1931) and Werner Jaeger (1888-1961) (see Jaeger’s Paideia [New York, 1943] 2:77-106, with favorable reference to Shorey on page 385, note 52).
Most of Shorey’s scholarly publications are devoted to Plato and most of the rest to Aristotle, his commentators, and other ancient philosophers. He did discuss over a period of years the change in metrical scholarship from the musical or rhythmical views of August Rossbach (1823-98), Wilhelm Christ (1831-1906), and Johann Schmidt (1843-1901) to the metrical views of Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff ( 1848-1931) and Paul Maas (1880-1964). The Rossbach view of ancient meter can still be met with in the metrical analyses of choral lyrics in Jebb’s Sophocles and Gildersleeve’s Pindar. They have disappeared from modern texts. The greatest American metrician, Shorey’s contemporary John Williams White(1849-1917), converted from the one system to the other. Shorey remained loyal to the system of Jebb and Gildersleeve for reasons he discussed in “Choriambic Dimeter and the Rehabilitation of the Antispast” (1907) and “The Issue in Greek Metric” (1924) as well as his reviews of White’s Verse of Greek Comedy, (1913), his response to White’s reply in the same volume (217-220) and his review of Wilamowitz’s Griechische Verskunst (1922). Shorey felt that it was not physically possible for human beings to pronounce verse without recourse to stress accent and metrical ictus. He denies Hephaestion’s authority over modern observation. (“I would accept no authority, and least of all that of Hephaestion, against a physiological and psychological necessity,” he tells White.) He insists that no one can read Greek verse with feeling and intelligence with the “New Metric,” while it is possible with the system of Rossbach and Schmidt. The last point should not be undervalued. Shorey was a teacher, and he was impatient with learning that was intelligible only to self- appointed experts. He notes with satisfaction that Gilbert Murray (1866-1957) and Wilamowitz read with a rhythmic stress. Shorey was again in a minority, but the debate is not yet over. W. S. Allen (1918-2004) has defended the existence of the ictus in Greek poetry in Accent and Rhythm (Cambridge, 1972), while Gunther Zuntz (1902-92) has argued that we can pronounce Greek verse with a musical and not a stress accent in Drei Kapitel zur griechischen Metrik (Vienna, 1984).
In another area Shorey was on the cutting edge of change. It was H. Meuss, in “Thukydides und die religiose Aufklärung” (Neue Jahrb. für Id. Philol. 146 ), who first presented a Thucydides who rejected traditional morality and the gods (N. Marinatos, Thucydides and Religion [Konigstein 1981] 1-16). Shorey’s article “On the Implicit Ethics and Psychology of Thucydides” (1893), argued that the two chief aspects of Thucydides’ criticism of life are 1) ethical positivism and 2) intellectualism.
This is a cynical Thucydides, for whom the ethical, the social and the religious are “sheath after sheath of decorous pretence” wrapped around the harsh reality “that the nature and conduct of man are strictly determined by his physical and social environment and by a few elementary appetites and desires.” Written with conviction and intelligence, the article still influences even those who have never read it. It was relevant to his Platonic studies. Shorey calls the society against which Plato is reacting “Thucydidean Athens,” e.g. in “The Idea of the Good in Plato’s Republic,” (1895).
Shorey also published extensively in nonprofessional journals on pedagogical, social, and cultural issues. He felt especially strongly on the subject of the weakening role of the humanities and the classics in education. His essay “The Assault on Humanism” which appeared initially in the Atlantic in 1917 and was published as an “Atlantic Monograph” that same year, concludes by predicting that the disappearance of Latin is only the first step to the elimination of reading the Great Books. A prophecy that must have seemed hysterical in 1917 has been fulfilled in such latter-day programs as the Stanford “Culture, Ideas, Values” curriculum. His essay “The Case for the Classics” (1910) was often republished. He appeared frequently on the conservative side in social and educational debates, even defending William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) in “Evolution: A Conservative’s Apology” in the Atlantic (1928). “I preached conservatism mainly because, though the ordinary Main Street American does not yet vote red, all intellectual America reads and talks pink” (The Creative Intelligence and Modern Life: 172).
“I have but twice had the good fortune to speak on the popular side of any question,” was Shorey’s ironic boast. One occasion was his support for United States entry into World War I and the accompanying anti-German and pro-English sentiments. Shorey’s attitude was rooted in his scholarly positions as well as his nationalism and conservatism. Germany was the prime mover behind the scholarship that taught Homeric analysis, the development of Plato, and the (literally unspeakable) New Metric. Germany was the home of the progressive in scholarship, theology, and philosophy. Shorey expressed his views in “American Scholarship” (1911). America suffers from “the divorce of our scholarship and our science from culture.... The chief cause, perhaps, is the fact that our professional scholarship has been in the past an importation . . . from Germany.” Not only is German culture not American, but German scholars do not know what German culture there is. “They do not know their own literature as Frenchmen and Englishmen know theirs. . . . The consequent crudity and amateurishness of their criticism of life and letters is their misfortune and not their fault.” Further, German obsession with originality in scholarship leads to narrow specialization and a contempt for the truth. “The chief objection to hunting for mares’ nests is that you are sure to find them. But the quest itself impairs the reasoning powers. . . . The big ambitious books of the Nordens, the Heinzes, the Reitzensteins, the Joels, the Dtimmlers, the Hirzels, the Wendlands, and even, alas! of the Wilamowitzes cannot be trusted.”
The editor of The Nation was a man of letters and a classicist, Paul Elmer More (1864-1937), who was later to teach in the departments of Philosophy and then of Classics at Princeton University and write a multi-volume study of The Greek Tradition from Socrates to the Council of Chalcedon (Princeton, 1921-1931). This work, a sensitive mixture of translation and interpretation of the development of the Socratic tradition and its influence on early Christianity, is marred by outbursts of irritation aimed at German culture, philosophy, and scholarship. More, with his Harvard classmate, Irving Babbit (1865-1933), and their disciples, was one of the leaders of the conservative intellectual movement of the twenties known as The New Humanism.
Although on the cutting edge of intellectual movements in his own country, his article was less popular in Germany, where a spiteful colleague broadcast word of it after Shorey was named Theodore Roosevelt Exchange Professor at the University of Berlin for 1913. The part of the exchange program that involved Shorey was managed by the German Ministerialdirektor of the Prussian Kulturministerium and the President of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947). Both men worked hard to smooth over the tempest in a teapot caused by Shorey’s piece, “the little paper that first established my war record three years before the war and got me into hot water in Germany” (“Fifty Years of Classical Studies in America,” 34). Shorey was to give a series of lectures on American culture in German and a seminar on a Classical subject. His suggestions of Plato’s Republic and Pindar’s Odes were vetoed by Wilamowitz, the Professor of Greek at Berlin. Shorey’s term in Berlin changed his mind on nothing, from the New Metric to the arrogance of German Kultur and its advocates. Nearly twenty years later Shorey’s student, President George Norlin (1871-1942) of the University of Colorado, spent a term as Visiting Professor at the University of Berlin and like Shorey returned to the United States committed to a campaign to alert the American people of the dangers of Germany.
After his retirement in 1927, along with many articles and reviews, both scholarly and popular, Shorey published the first volume of a text and translation of Plato’s Republic in the Loeb series. The text is conservative and the translation never burkes a difficulty. The second volume appeared in 1935 (edited by Stella L. Lange). His lively summary with notes of Plato’s Dialogues appeared in 1933 with the pugnacious title, What Plato Said. The battles with Wilamowitz continue and the notes are often worth consulting. Shorey’s last Sather lectures, Platonism Ancient and Modern, were published in 1938, edited by Procope S. Costas of Whitman College. Although a tribute to Shorey’s phenomenally wide reading, they are not generally considered one of the more important contributions to the Sather series.
Shorey received eleven honorary degrees, including one from the Université de Liège in Belgium, 1924, where he gave a series of lectures. He was later elected Associé de l’Académie Royale de Belgique (1929). Among his activities in professional organizations, he was President of the American Philological Association in 1910; Professor of Greek at Chicago from 1892 and head of the Greek Department from 1896; and managing editor of Classical Philology from 1908-1934. He retired from his professorship in 1927 but continued to teach until the summer term of 1933. He was Annual Associate Director of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens in 1901-1902 and Roosevelt Exchange Professor in 1913. He delivered the Harris lectures at Northwestern University, the Lowell Lectures at Boston, and the Sather Lectures at Berkeley in 1916-17, 1918-19 and 1928-29.
Shorey married a graduate student in Latin at Chicago, Emma L. Gilbert, in 1895. They had no children.
Paul Shorey was a significant figure in the creation of Bryn Mawr College and the University of Chicago. He founded a major graduate program at Chicago and a very important scholarly journal. His ideas are still taken seriously, as the reprinting of his minor writings (1980) and translation of his dissertation (1982) indicate. Several of his books are still in print. He took an important part in the educational and cultural debates of his time. In his conservatism and his creativity he was a worthy peer of Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve and William Abbott Oldfather (1880-1945).
R. J. Bonner, CJ 29 (1933-4) 641-3; CJ 31 (1935-6) 2; CP 29 (1935) 185-8; A. Dies, "Un platonisant d'Amérique: Paul Shorey," BAGB 24 (1929) 1-21; E. Christian Kopff, "Wilamowitz and Classical Philology in the USA: An Interpretation," in Wilamowitz Nach 50 Jahren, ed. H. Flashar et al. (Darmstadt 1985), 558-80, esp. 569-76; idem, "Paul Shorey," Classical Scholarship: A Biographical Encyclopedia, ed. Ward W. Briggs & William M. Calder III (New York, 1990), 447-53; Gordon J. Laing, "Paul Shorey," DAB 9 (1935-1936), 125-6; John Francis Latimer, "Paul Shorey: A Bibliography of his Classical Publications," CP 81 (1986) 1-31 (Latimer numbers Shorey's total publications at 833); George Norlin, "Paul Shorey—The Teacher," ibid., 188-91; Emily James Putnam, Atlantic Monthly 161 (June 1938) 795-804; see also Atlantic Monthly 142 (Oct. 1928) 475-6.
- Author: E. Christian Kopff