North American Scholar

STAHL, William Harris

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1908-12-20
  • Born City: New York
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1969-04-20
  • Death City: Baldwin
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Mattielena Wallace, 18 Sept. 1934.
  • Education:

    B.A. NYU, 1929; M.A., 1930; Ph.D., 1934.

  • Professional Experience:

    A. Ogden Butler fell, class, instr. class. NYU, 1930-43; analyst & head res. branch New York office of Intelligence Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1943-5; asst. prof, to asso. prof, class. NYU, 1945, 1945-56; head dept. class., 1951-6; prof, class. & chair dept. class. & world lit. Brooklyn Coll., 1956-69; Fulbright lctr. U. Melbourne, 1956; Guggenheim fell., 1962-3.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Moon in Early Medicine" (NYU, 1934).

  • Publications:

    "Moon Madness," Ann. Med. Hist. n.s. 9 (1937) 248-63; "Geography and Astronomy in Macrobius," TAPA 73 (1942) 232-58; "The Greek Heliocentric Theory and Its Abandonment," TAPA 76 (1945) 321-32; "More Thoughts on Post-Classical Latin," CW38 (1944-5) 106-8; "The Ancient Greek Astronomers," CJ 47 (1951-2) 3-16; "First Annual Survey of College Textbooks," CW 44 (1950-1) 214-8; J. L. E. Dreyer, A History of Astronomy from Thales to Kepler (foreword by Stahl), 2d ed. rev. (New York, 1953); Macrobius. Commentary on the Dream of Scipio (ed. & trans.) (New York, 1952); Ptolemy's Geography: A Select Bibliography (New York, 1953); "Astronomy, History of," Encyclopedia Americana 2:454-60; "By Their Maps You Shall Know Them," Archaeology 8 (1955) 146-55; E. H. Bunbury, A History of Ancient Geography (intro. by Stahl) 2d ed. (New York, 1959); "Dominant Traditions in Early Medieval Latin Science," Isis 50 (1959) 95-124; "Science and the Neoplatonists," Trans. 10th Int. Cong. Hist. Sci. (1962) 1:19-22; Roman Science: Origins, Development, and Influence to the Later Middle Ages (Madison, WI, 1962); "The Systematic Handbook in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages," Latomus 23 (1964) 311-21; "To a Better Understanding of Martianus Capella," Speculum 40 (1965) 102-15; "Theoretical versus Practical: An Historical Approach," Christian Scholar 49 (1966) 42-9; Martianus Capella and the Seven Liberal Arts, vol. 1: The Quadrivium of Martianus Capella: Latin Traditions in the Mathematical Sciences 50 B.C.-A.D. 1250 (New York, 1971); vol. 2: The Marriage of Philology and Mercury, trans, with commentary by Stahl & Richard Johnson, with E. L. Burge (New York, 1977).

  • Notes:

    Stahl is chiefly remembered as a historian of ancient science, particularly astronomy, geography, and medicine. He was interested in astronomy early in his career; he edited Dreyer's history of astronomy and even informally advised groups of student astronomers at NYU. He then moved to the field of geography, compiling a bibliography of Ptolemy containing over 1500 items. His edition of Macrobius' commentary of the Somnium Scipionis contains an interesting treatise on the medieval influence of Macrobius. His most important book is certainly Roman Science, a survey of the lore and learning of both the handbook and encyclopedic varieties. Though the book was favorably reviewed, Stahl hoped to make numerous corrections, but he was prevented by his untimely death. At the time of his death he had virtually completed his contribution to the translation and commentary on Martianus Capella's Marriage of Philology and Mercury on which he collaborated with Richard Johnson of Melbourne.He was remembered by colleagues as an innovative teacher, initiating a course in Greek and Latin literature in translation and building it to the size of courses in American literature and history. He contributed to Classical Weekly yearly lists of books in teaching the classics and served on the APA Committee on Greek and Latin College Textbooks. According to Carl Boyer, "Bill was an academic joiner par excellence, and a genuine member in every case."

  • Sources:

    Isis 60 (1969) 528-34; NatCAB 54:481; NYTimes (22 Apr. 1969) 47.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.