North American Scholar

WESTERINK, Leendert Gerrit

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1913-11-02
  • Born City: Velp
  • Born State/Country: Holland
  • Parents: Reiner Marinus & Petronella Johanna W.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1990-01-24
  • Death City: Buffalo
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Barbara Wilhelmina Schmidt, 1945.
  • Education:

    Doctorandus (class, langs.) U. Nijmegen, 1939; doctorandus (Engl. lang. & lit.) 1945; Litt. D., 1948.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchr. Engl., Gk., Lat. Munic. Lyceum (Emmen, Neth.), 1945-65; prof, class. SUNY Buffalo, 1965-74; dist. prof, class., 1974-90; Andrew V. V. Raymond prof, class., 1975-84; corresp. Royal Neth. Acad. Sci., 1966; vis. sch. Dumbarton Oaks, 1971; researcher, Nat. Ctr. Sci. Res., Ministry Educ, France, 1973-4; ed. Arethusa mongr. ser., 1969-85; Goodwin award, 1979.

  • Publications:

    Psellus: De Omnifaria Doctrina (Utrecht, 1948); Proclus: Commentary on the First Alcibiades of Plato (Amsterdam, 1954; 2d ed., 1982); Olympiodorus: Commentary on the First Alcibiades of Plato (Amsterdam, 1956); Damascius: Lectures on the PhUebus (Amsterdam, 1959; repr. with corrections, 1982); Anonymous Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy (Amsterdam, 1962); Pseudo-Elias-Pseudo-David: Lectures on Porphyry's Isagoge (Amsterdam, 1967); Proclus: Théologie Platonicienne, with H. D. Saffrey, 5 vols. (Bude) (Paris, 1968-87); Arethae Archiepiscopi Caesariensis Scripta Minora, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1968, 1972); Porphyry: Cave of the Nymphs (Buffalo, 1969); Olympiodorus: In Platonis Gorgiam Commentaria (Leipzig, 1970); Nicetas Magistros: Lettres d'un exilé (928-946) (Paris, 1973); Nicholas I, Patriarch of Constantinople: Letters (Dumbarton Oaks, 1973); The Greek Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo, vols. 1-2 (Amsterdam & New York, 1976-7); Theodore Daphnopates: Correspondance (Paris, 1978); Theophylactus Simocates: On Predestined Terms of Life (Buffalo, 1978); Germanus I: On Predestined Terms of Life (Buffalo, 1979); Nicholas I: Miscellaneous Writings (Washington, DC, 1981); Photii Patriarchae Constantinopolitani Epistulae, with B. Laourdas, 6 vols. (Leipzig, 1983-8); Stephanus: Commentary on Hippocrates' Aphorisms, vols. 1-2 (Berlin, 1985, 1992); Damascius: Traité des premiers Principes, 3 vols. (Paris, 1986-91); George Pachymeres: Hypomnema eis ton Parmeniden Platonos, ed. & trans. Thomas A. Gadra et al., intro. by Westerink (Athens, Paris, Brussels, 1989); Prolegomènes à la philosophic de Platon, with A. P. Segonds (Paris, 1990); Psellus: Poemata (Berlin, 1993); and many articles and reviews.Festschrift: Gonimos: Neoplatonic and Byzantine Studies Presented to Leendert G. Westerink at 75, ed. John Duffy & John Peradotto (Buffalo, NY, 1988).Kleine Schriften: Texts and Studies in Neoplatonism and Byzantine Literature: Collected Papers (Amsterdam, 1980).

  • Notes:

    Born the son of a Dutch Protestant minister, Leendert Westerink was made a Litt.D. of Nijmegen in 1948. The outline of his career was as simple as it was unusual. A dearth of professorships at Dutch universities, added to his personal modesty, led him to teach for many years in a lyceum, but the quality of five scholarly books in the field of neo-platonism which he published in that period led, on the unanimous recommendation of Festugiere, Dodds, Solmsen, and Cherniss, to his direct appointment as a tenured professor at Buffalo in 1965. There he worked for the rest of his life, prolific in output and a devoted teacher and director of research. He was recognized as a leading authority on the philosophy, theology, and medicine of the Byzantines and on the problems of editing their most abstruse writings. Buffalo became his second home and, aside from visiting appointments, he left it mainly to go on a long series of private expeditions in quest of Greek manuscripts in places ranging from Leningrad to Patmos and the monasteries of Mt. Athos. Alone or collaboratively he produced some 25 definitive books, including a dozen volumes in the Teubner series and nine in the French Budé series of classical texts. He was with good reason acclaimed as a Distinguished Professor.In character he combined in high degree the qualities of economy of effort, mildness, and solicitude for others. He had a special gift for leading students on to be collaborators with him, and he saw to it that their names were put to published work resulting from his seminars. His sense of irony and humor was keen but never unkind. Everyone who met him benefited from his natural gentility. And he had a sudden, bright, salvific smile which, while it gently rallied the over-solemn, simultaneously spelled reassurance to the worried, hope to the despondent, and light to the perplexed.

  • Sources:

    DAS 82:525; John Peradotto, APA Newsletter (Apr. 1990) 15; personal knowledge.

  • Author: Charles Garton