North American Scholar
TAYLOR, Herman Ward, Jr
Washington & Lee U., 1953-5; B.A. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1957; Ph.D., 1970.
- Professional Experience:
Instr. to prof. classics, Washington & Lee U., 1962-2001.
“An Introduction and Commentary to Book III of Quintilian's Institutio oratoria” (North Carolina, 1970).
Herman Ward Taylor, Jr., taught Latin and Greek at Washington and Lee University for four decades. Born in Washington, D.C. on 12 March 1935, he grew up in Raleigh, N.C., where he attended the local schools. He entered Washington and Lee with the class of 1957, but transferred in his sophmore year to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he graduated summa cum laude in classics and began graduate study in the department of B.L. Ullman, Walter Allen, Jr., and Henry R. Immerwahr. As a consequence of marrying his college sweetheart, Betsy Lloyd (also a Phi Beta Kappa classics major), and beginning a family (daughters Jennifer and Carol, and a son, Ward), he interrupted his study and returned to Washington and Lee in 1962 as instructor in Classics, teaching all the Latin and Greek for two years until a permanent appointment in Greek was made. In 1970 he completed his dissertation, a commentary on Book Three of Quintilian under George A. Kennedy.In class he was neither a performer nor pedant, but gave the appearance of extending the ongoing literary and philosophical conversations he maintained with many friends and students. He was impressive on his feet, walking his wits and turning out his arguments seemingly without effort or preparation, fostering the belief that all his material for any class simply resided in his head. His droll eye for the peculiarities and absurdities of human behavior led him early in his career to Catullus, Horace, Ovid, and Tacitus. In later years he gravitated to Plato and the Greek Orators. The texts in his upper-level classes were always OCTs, on the presumption that students should develop their own affinities with the classic authors free of interference from commentators. His affection for his students was genuine, his sensitivity to their interests and deficiencies was acute, and his loyalty was unquestioning and lifelong. Just as Herman's large house on Houston Street was distinctive for its number of unfinished improvement projects, so Herman's mind had many rooms that teemed with sophisticated views on drama in Cicero, justice in Plato, and friendship in Catullus, but the heavy demands of teaching and family over the years meant that neither the house nor the ideas ever approached anything like completion. Until he retired in 2000, Herman found real satisfaction in leading groups of students on tours of ancient sites where he could indulge his passion for photography and continue as a humorous and learned guide to sites, literature, and culture. Following the early death of Betsy in 1983, Herman entered a long and happy period of his life with his marriage to Betty Kahn of Lexington. When the end to a heroic decade-long struggle with cancer came, Herman had Betty by his side, surrounded by their loving families and wreathed in the love and admiration of generations of students
- Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.