EDWARDS, Mark William
B.A. (Latin, first class), Bristol, 1950; B.A. (Greek; first class), 1953; M.A., 1956, study at University College, London, 1953-4; study at Princeton, 1954-5.
- Professional Experience:
Service in British Army, 1950-2; instr., & asst. prof., Brown, 1955-62; asso. prof. to prof, Queen’s University, (Kingston, Ont.), 1962-9; Prof. Stanford, 1969-91; Chair Classics Dept., 1970-4; acting chair, 1975-7; 1980-1; Martin Classical Lectures, Oberlin, 1998; President, California Classical Association, 1973-4; Philological Association of the Pacific Coast, 1980-1; managing comm., ICCS, 1971-84; co-editor, Far Western Forum, 1972-6; Pacific Coast Philology, 1978-80; editor, 1980-1; co-editor, Oral Tradition, 1984-2016.
“Representations of Maenads on Archaic Red-Figure Vases,” JHS 80 (1960) 78-87; “The Expression of Stoic Ideas in the Aeneid,” Phoenix 14 (1960) 151-65; “Intensification of Meaning in Propertius and Others,” TAPA 92 (1961) 128-44; “Some Features of Homeric Craftsmanship,” TAPA 97 (1966) 115-79; “Some Stylistic Notes on Iliad xviii,” AJP 89 (1968) 257-83; “On Some ‘Answering’ Expressions in Homer,” CP 64 (1969) 81-7; “Homeric Speech Introductions,” HSCP 74 (1970) 1-36; “Type-Scenes and Homeric Hospitality,” TAPA 15 (1975) 51-72; “Agamemnon's Decision. Freedom and Folly in Aeschylus,” CSCA 10 (1977) 17-38; “The Structure of Homeric Catalogues,” TAPA 110 (1980) 81-105; Convention and Individuality in Iliad I,” HSCP 84 (1980) 1-29; “Philology and the Oral Theory,” Pacific Coast Philology 17 (1982) 1-8; “The Conventions of a Homeric Funeral,” in Studies in Honour of T.B.L. Webster, ed. John H. Betts, James T. Hooker, & John Richard Green (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1986) 84-92; “Homer and Oral Tradition. The Formula I,” Oral Tradition 1 (1986) 171-230; “Topos and Transformation in Homer,” in Homer, Beyond Oral Poetry. Recent Trends in Homeric Interpretation, ed. J.M. Bremer, et al. (Amsterdam: Grüner, 1987) 47-60; Homer. Poet of the Iliad (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1987); “Homer and Oral Tradition. The Formula, Part II,” Oral Tradition 3 (1988) 11-60; “Neoanalysis and Beyond,” Classical Antiquity 9 (1990) 311-25; The Iliad: a Commentary V: Books 17-20,ed. with G.S. Kirk (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 1991); “Homer and Oral Tradition. The Type-Scene,” Oral Tradition 7 (1992) 284-330; “Character and Style: Achilles in Iliad 18,” in De gustibus: Essays for Alan Renoir ed. John Miles Foley (London & New York: Garland, 1992) 168-84; “The Cohesiveness of the Iliad,” Laetaberis: The Journal of the California Classical Association, n.s. 9 (1992-3) -17; “Homeric Style and ‘Oral Poetics’,” in A New Companion to Homer, ed. Ian Morris & Barry B. Powell (Leiden: Brill, 1997) 261-83; “Foreword,” in Selections from Homer’s Iliad, ed. Allen Rogers Benner (repr. Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 2001) ix-xxvii; Sound, Sense, and Rhythm: Listening to Greek and Latin Poetry, (Princeton: Princeton U. Press, 2002); “Homer and the Oral Tradition,” Oral Tradition 18 (2003) 65-7; “Homer’s Iliad,” in A Companion to Homer, ed. John Miles Foley (London & new York: Blackwell, 2005) 302-314; “Origen’s Platonism: Questions and Caveats,” Zeitschrift für Antike Christentum = Journal of Ancient Christianity 12 (2008) 20-38; xxxxxxxxxxxxx The Homer Encyclopedia, ed. Margalit Finkelberg, 3. Vols. (London & New York: Blackwell, 2011)
Raised in Evesham, England, in a lower middle-class family, Edwards completed his undergraduate degree under the Plautus scholar William Beare (1900-63) and spent two years in the British army working in the artillery corps. He returned to Bristol to study Greek with H.D.F. Kitto (1897-1982), the translator of Greek drama, Edwards was convinced by the two to pursue a master's degree.
While pursuing his MA at Bristol, in 1953, Edwards accepted a research grant to study with T.B.L. Webster (1905-74) at University College London. The subject of his research was the early history of Dionysius, relevant in the wake of Michael Ventris' decipherment of Linear B earlier in that year (Dionysius' name—Di-wo-nu-so-jo—was discovered on the tablets). Edwards’s subsequent research focused on the connection between literary references and visual depictions of Dionysius (and generally, the Dionysian) in early red-figure pottery. This was the subject of his first publication.
Edwards subsequently received a grant to study with Anthony Raubitschek (1912-99) at Princeton University. There, he would finish work on his MA thesis. Edwards believed Raubitschek to be responsible for his hiring as a professor at Brown University. Edwards received his MA the year after being hired by Brown, teaching classes on the Iliad, the philosophy of Cicero, and Latin. The course on the Iliad was his first sustained engagement with Homer, the subject that would form the core of his subsequent scholarship. Unfortunately, in 1962, he was not awarded tenure at Brown and left at the end of academic year. During this period, he published on a variety of other topics (Stoicism, the style of Propertius, and so on)—work that grew out of his teaching at Brown.
At Queen's University Edwards published on the topic of Homeric formulae. He was influenced by James A. Notopoulos' (1905-67) work on epichoric formulae, and subsequently encountered the work of Milman Parry (1902-35), partly through Notopoloulos' work on parataxis in Homer. He was likewise influenced by Howard N. Porter (1916-93), who wrote on early Greek hexameter, as well as Eugene O'Neill, Jr. (1910-50) who wrote on the localization of metrical word-types in epic hexameter. Edwards' subsequent research in this area would focus on how formulae worked within epic hexameter. Most of this work was published in the 1960s, but he continued to publish on the topic through the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.
Edwards left Queens for Stanford University, where he taught classes in the introductory freshman program, as well as "Epic in Translation," something that influenced his subsequent work, especially his book Homer: Poet of the Iliad(1987). As chair, he oversaw the creation of the endowed Stanford in Greece Fund, which (despite administrative changes over time) still forms the basis for funding Classics students' travel to the Mediterranean. He also oversaw the creation of the Webster Fund, which continues to fund the annual Webster Lecture, delivered at Stanford.
It was largely at Stanford that Edwards made contributions on two Homeric questions. The first was on Type Scenes—that is, formalized, repeating scenes that appear throughout epic. The other question, related to type scenes, was story-patterns and “neoanalysis,” an approach that analyzes Homeric epic alongside other lost works in the epic cycle, on the assumption that literary motifs in the former were borrowed from the latter. Edwards first covered the topic in a 1990 article, "Neoanalysis and Beyond." Neoanalysis formed part of Edwards' perspective in Homer: Poet of the Iliad, as well as in his 1991 commentary on the Iliad (the fifth in Cambridge's six-volume series, overseen by G.S. Kirk). Finally, he contributed an article on neoanalysis (along with others) to the Wiley-Blackwell Homer Encyclopedia (ed. Finkelberg) in 2011.
Following his retirement in 1991 Edwards taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz, as Visiting Professor in 1993 and 1994. Here, he taught undergraduate classes on the Iliad and on Greek tragedy. This was his last teaching post. He continued to write, publishing Sound, Sense, and Rhythm: Listening to Greek and Latin Poetry in 2002. He wrote articles for compendia such as A New Companion to Homer (Brill, 1997) and A Companion to Ancient Epic (Blackwell, 2005).
In 2003, Edwards retired to Villa Marin, a retirement community in San Rafael, CA. There, he taught informal seminars on western culture, classical literature, and Greek history to fellow residents (though he preferred the term "reading group").
Edwards, M. (2016) Academic Autobiography [Unpublished]; Edwards, M. & Pyzyk, M. (March 18, 2016, March 31, 2016). “Oral Interview” Stanford Historical Society; Stanford University. https://exhibits.stanford.edu/oral-history/catalog/tz106dc5291; WhAm 40 (1978-9) 936.