North American Scholar

WIESEN, David Stanley

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1936-05-27
  • Born City: New York
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: Seymour & Mae Halperin W.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1982-08-16
  • Death City: Los Angeles
  • Death State/Country: CA
  • Married: Ellen Cohen, 23 June 1963.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1957; Ph.D., 1961; Fulbright study at Munich, 1957-8.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. class. Cornell, 1961-3; asst. prof. Swarthmore, 1963-6; prof, class. Brandeis U., 1966-73; chair dept., 1967-73; Samuel Lemberg prof, class., 1973-5; U. Southern California, 1975-82; chair dept., 1975-80; dean hum., 1980-2; fell. NEH, 1970-1.

  • Dissertation:

    "St. Jerome as a Satirist" (Harvard, 1961); printed (Ithaca, 1964).

  • Publications:

    St. Augustine, City of God, Books 8-11 (trans.), LCL (Cambridge & London, 1965); "Juvenal 10.358," CP 64 (1969) 73-80; "Isdem artibus victus est. Tacitus Annates iv,l,3," Mnemosyne, ser. 4, 23 (1970) 402-7; "Juvenal and the Blacks," C&M 31 (1970) 132-50; "Classis numerosa. Juvenal Satire 7.151," CQ n.s. 21 (1971) 506-8; "Virgil, Minucius Felix, and the Bible," Hermes 99 (1971) 70-91; "Juvenal and the Intellectuals," Hermes 101 (1973) 464-83; "The Contribution of Antiquity to American Racial Thought," in Classical Traditions in Early America, ed. John W. Eadie (Ann Arbor, 1976) 191-212; "Herodotus and the Modern Debate over Race and Slavery," AncW 3 (1980) 3-16; "The Great Priestess of the Tree, Juvenal VI, 544-545," CJ 76 (1981-2) 14-20; "Two Problems in Horace's Satires," Mnemosyne, ser. 4, 34 (1981) 87-95; "A 'Decency Corruption' in Juvenal," Eranos 79 (1980) 99-103; "Cornelius Felton and the Flowering of Classics in New England," CO 59 (1981-2) 45-8.

  • Notes:

    Satire in all its aspects fascinated David Wiesen, not only as a literary genre but also as a modality, a way of looking at the world. David was a thoroughgoing humanist, deeply learned in the Greek and Latin classical tradition, but also able as few classicists are to frame the Greeks and Romans with the whole of the later European and American cultural traditions they engendered. His published interests embraced St. Jerome and St. Augustine, Juvenal, Virgil, Tacitus, and the classical tradition in America; his friends also knew him as a learned authority on Renaissance art and history, modern European history, and modern poetry and literature. He excelled in the drawing of surprising and illuminating convergences among these spheres in a way that was itself gently satirical of ancients and moderns alike; one of his colleagues and friends remembers still David's early and mordant dismissal of Lyndon'Johnson's career as "Themistoclean," at a point where the force and justice of this tag were not visible to almost anyone else. The administration of the University of South California appointed David Wiesen dean of humanities in 1980; at his death a scant two years later David had begun the process of integrating humanities at USC into the larger cultural life of Southern California in ways that bore testimony to his own extraordinary sense of the importance of literature and the arts. He was only two years into his post as dean of humanities when he suffered a sudden stroke in his office and died a few days later. He was memorialized by a David Wiesen Lecture at USC.

  • Sources:

    In Memory and Celebration of the Life of David Wiesen (Los Angeles, 1983); WhAm 8:426.

  • Author: Carolyn DeWald