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BENARIO, Janice Marguerite Martin

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  • Date of Birth: February 19, 1923
  • Born City: Baltimore
  • Born State/Country: MD
  • Parents: J. Elmer & Gladys Martin M.
  • Date of Death: December 2, 2020
  • Death City: Atlanta
  • Death State/Country: GA
  • Married: Herbert W. Benario, December 23, 1957.
  • Education:

    A.B. (Latin) Goucher College, 1943; A.M. (Classics), Johns Hopkins, 1949; Ph.D., 1952.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Structure of Horace's Odes" (Johns Hopkins, 1952).

  • Professional Experience:

    Lieutenant (J.G.) USNR, 1943-6; Ford Foundation grant. 1953-4; teaching intern, St. Johns College, 1953-4;; Fulbright fell., 1957; instr. classics, Sweet Briar, 1954-7; asst. prof. 1957-8; vis. lectr. 1959-60; asst. prof. classics, Georgia State U., 1960-2; asso. prof., 1962-84; asso. prof. foreign languages, 1984-9; co-professor-in-charge, ICCS Rome, 1984-5; asso. prof. classics, Emory, 1989-94; Agnes Scott, 1997; editor, Vergilius, 1960-3; 1973-9; editorial board, 1963-73; pres., Classical Society of the AAR, 1963-9; pres., Classical and Modern Foreign Language Assn., 1969-71.  

  • Publications:

    “Book 4 of Horace's Odes, Augustan Propaganda,” TAPA 91 (1960) 339-52; “Some Books on Italy,” with Herbert W. Benario, CW 62 (1969) 348-50; “Dido and Cleopatra,” Vergilius 16 (1970) 2-6; “Some Books on Italy,” with Herbert W. Benario, CW 63 (1970) 296-7; “Book 2 of Horace's Odesamicitiaurbanitashumanitas,” in The Two Worlds of the Poet: New Perspectives on Vergil, ed. Robert McKay Wilhelm & Howard Jones (Detroit: Wayne State U. Press, 1992) 257-67; “Horace, Humanitas, and Crete,” Amphora 2,1 (Spring 2003) 1-3.

  • Notes:

    Even before Janice Benario began her heroic work for classics, building a Classics Department at Georgia State, editing Vergilius, teaching at three different universities, sometimes simultaneously, co-directing programs in Italy for the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, and serving CAMWS in numerous positions, she was already a decorated hero of World War II. 

    A native of Baltimore, Janice graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College, one of the seven women’s colleges chosen with decoding the Enigma code used by the Germans in World War II.  English professor Ola Elizabeth Winslow (1885-1977), who had won a Pulitzer Prize for her biography of Jonathan Edwards, was gathering ten English and Classics majors to learn cryptology. The women met in a secret blacked-out location and in two months Janice was an ensign in the Women’s Navy Unit (WAVES), assigned to the Naval Communications Annex in Washington working on the ultra-top-secret unit called ULTRA, whose purpose was to break the German U-Boat code transmitted on a machine called Enigma. By the time Janice arrived, British and American experts had solved the code, and Janice’s unit deciphered German messages and gave them to the women’s unit or processing. Janice would read the decoded messages and between German commanders and decide which American officers needed to see which messages. Janice served in the immediate post-war years in the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Fall Church, Virginia and was demobbed in 1946 as a lieutenant junior grade, with decorations for her service. Sworn to secrecy under penalty of treason, Janice told no one about her service until the information was declassified and written up in a book, which contained a photo of her unit. Janice shouted and finally told her family and the world at large of her wartime experiences. 

    Janice returned to Baltimore where she would receive the M.A. and in 1952 the Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins, where she met her future husband. In 1957 she gained both a husband and a Fulbright and took both to the American Academy in Rome. They moved to Atlanta in 1960, where she began the Classics program at Georgia State University and sustained it for 30 years with important hires and excellent teaching.  For the latter she received the APA’s National Teaching Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics. After retiring from Georgia State, she taught at Emory. A list of her services and papers to CAMWS would exceed all reasonable length. Suffice it to notice that she received an Ovatio in 1986 and in 2010 the couple were awarded CAMWS’s Special Service Award for their long devotion to classical studies. Herb established the Janice and Herbert Benario Award to fund summer travel and research.

    Later in life she became a notable ballroom dancer, a hobby she maintained until her death at age 97.

  • Sources:

    WhoAmWomen (1998) 354.

  • Author: Ward Briggs