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TRACY, Theodore James, S.J.

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  • Date of Birth: January 02, 1916
  • Born City: Chicago
  • Born State/Country: IL
  • Parents: Theodore J., wholesale jewelry salesman, & Honor Evelyn Higgins T.
  • Date of Death: October 02, 2006
  • Death City: Clarkson
  • Death State/Country: MI
  • Education:

    B.A., Loyola University (Chicago) 1938; joined Society of Jesus, 1939; M.A. (Classics & Philosophy), Loyola University (Chicago), 1942; ordained, 1950; S.T.L., West Baden (IN) College, 1951; M.A. Princeton, 1954; John H. Page Fellow, 1954-5;  Ph.D., 1962.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Latin, Greek & English, Loyola Academy, 1944-7; instr. classics, Xavier University, 1955-6; instr. to asso. prof. classics, Loyola University (Chicago), 1956-70; chair, Dept. Classical Studies, 1960-70; Board of Trustees, 1959-61, 1972-85; Distinguished Professor of the Year, 1970; asso. prof. University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, 1970-81; acting head, classics dept., 1974-5; Fulbright Fellow, 1960-1; press. Chicago Classical Club, 1963-5; first v. p., CAMWS, 1977-8; mem. examining bd. Latin, ETS (College Entrance Board), 1969-71; ed. bd., ICS, 1974-6.

  • Publications:

    “Plato, Galen, and the Center of Consciousness,” ICS 1 (1976) 43-52;  “Perfect Friendship in Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics,” ICS 4 (1979) 65-75; “The Soul as Boatman of the Body. Presocratics to Descartes,” Diotima 7 (1979) 195-9; “The Soul-Boatman Analogy in Aristotle's De Anima,” CP 77 (1982) 97-112; “Ultimate Reality and Meaning in Aristotle. A Classicist's View,” in Ultimate Reality & Meaning 5 (1982) 210-29; “Heart and Soul in Aristotle, II,” in Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy, II,  ed. J.P Anton & A. Preus (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983) 321-39; “Who Stands behind Aeneas on the Ara Pacis?,” Daidalikon: Studies in Memory of Raymond V. Schoder, ed. Robert F. Sutton (Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 1989) 375-96.

  • Notes:

    Born on the West Side of Chicago, Ted Tracy moved with his family in 1926 to the East Rogers Park neighborhood, on the North Side of Chicago, where he remained a resident throughout most of his life. During the Great Depression, Ted worked to help support his family and to pay for his education at Loyola Academy and Loyola University. As a teenager, he held a summer job as office boy to Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the founder of the Chicago Tribune. As a student at Loyola Academy, he played guard on the football team, an amazing feat for a man of his size. He took particular pride in having played in the Prep Bowl, an annual game that since 1929 has been played in Soldier Field by the champions of the Catholic and Public Leagues of Chicago.


    Ted eventually joined the faculty at his alma mater and as chair of the Classics Department was instrumental in establishing the doctoral program in Classics at Loyola. In the same year that the faculty conferred upon him the honor of  “Distinguished Professor of the Year,” he resigned his position at Loyola to accept an appointment as associate professor of Classics at the new Chicago campus of the University of Illinois, where he spent the next 11 years of his teaching career.


    It is impossible to overstate Ted’s contribution to the formation and growth of the Classics faculty at UIC. When he arrived in 1970, the campus was a mere five years old. As Ted told his colleagues at Loyola, he felt drawn to this new public university in Chicago, where the majority of students were the first in their families to attend college. Under Ted’s wise and gentle leadership, the department grew to comprise ten full-time faculty and offered degrees in Ancient Greek, Latin, and Classical Civilization, as well as courses in Arabic, Modern Greek, and Catholic Studies.  


    After Ted’s retirement from UIC in 1981, he served one year as superior of Ignatius House, a satellite community of Jesuit priests which he helped found near the Loyola campus, then joined for a time the staff of the Institute for Spiritual Leadership. Later, in 1990, he took a position at Loyola, where for the next 15 years he served as a retreat leader and spiritual director.


    Ted’s scholarly publications were primarily in the field of ancient philosophy. He wrote his Princeton dissertation under the direction of Whitney J. Oates, and he took one or two classes from Harold Cherniss at the Institute for Advanced Study. His investigation sought to elucidate the notion of the term mesotes (“the mean”) in Aristotle in the light of Greek medical theory, a connection that had been posited by Werner Jaeger. Ted credited Tony Raubitschek with inspiring him to pursue that path of research. When his dissertation was published in 1969, reviewers praised it especially “in [its] discussion of Aristotle, where the De Anima and the biological writings are brought into relation with the Eudemian Ethics, the Nicomachean Ethics, and the Politics.” (Phillips, CR 22 [1972], 420); and it was described as offering “a splendid exposition of sensation in the De anima and a convincing interpretation of the living organism as ‘an embodied mesotes’” (Sprague, CP 66 [1971], 292).


    After his retirement from UIC in 1981, Ted became a self-taught practitioner of yoga and devoted himself primarily to pastoral care, but he returned briefly to Classics to publish “Who Stands behind Aeneas on the Ara Pacis?” In this article, he made a very persuasive case for identifying the broken figure, of which we have only a draped arm, not with Achates, or Iulus-Ascanius, or a hypothetical figure of Pax Romana, but rather with the goddess Venus.


    Of all his honors, the highest tribute was paid to him by his colleagues at UIC, who established in 1984 an annual lecture named in his honor. Those who knew him invariably use the words “kind,” “gentle,” “sympathetic,” and “pastoral” to describe his approach to life and his relations with others. He was beloved by students and colleagues alike.

  • Sources:

    John Ramsey, APA Newsletter (Fall 2007) 25-7; Andrew Reinhard,; WhAm (1976-7) 3164; DAS 8; WhAm 1976; Who's Who in Religion, 2nd ed.
  • Author: John T. Ramsey