Alan Lindley Boegehold, Professor Emeritus of Classics at Brown University, died on October 28, 2015 at his home in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, in the presence of his wife of 61 years, Julie, and other members of his family. Alan was born in Detroit, Michigan, on March 21, 1927; his father, a scientist, was a personal adviser to the president of General Motors. Alan graduated from the Detroit Country Day School in 1944. He had enlisted in a program run by the army, the Army Specialized Training Reserve Program, which during the second war sent men, normally of 17, to college campuses in the army Reserve to study engineering. Alan and I were in this program and were stationed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We met on our first day in the program and formed a friendship at once, partly because we had both studied Latin in school. This friendship became our closest one in classics and endured until his death.
After service in the army, he returned to Ann Arbor, obtained a B.A. in Classics, and went into business. I moved on to graduate school at Harvard and urged him in letters to come there, where he entered graduate school in Classics in 1952. At Harvard Alan and I became students of Sterling Dow, whose obituary we later wrote. Alan first taught Classics at the University of Illinois in 1957 and under Dow he wrote his doctor’s thesis at Harvard, “Aristotle and the Dikasteria,” 1958. In 1960 he moved to his permanent position at Brown. Alan’s second scholarly publication, 1960, was an article, “Aristotle’s Athenaion Politeia, 65.2: the ‘Official Token,’” in Hesperia,. the journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, known to all who have worked there as simply “the School.”
This article is a model of what any young scholar might wish to achieve. He explained, for the first time, how the Athenians determined by allotment where jurors should sit during a trial, in such a way as to prevent verbal pressure or cheering for either side. Alan followed his austere style in general in his scholarly publications, over 50 refereed articles for scientific journals.
His first major work was The Lawcourts at Athens (Princeton 1995), vol. 28 of the series “The Athenian Agora” published by the School. Most of the book is by Alan; there are contributions by five American colleagues, and throughout the book precise observations in correspondence from scholars far and wide. There are photographs of the various objects used in the law courts and, indeed, everywhere an encyclopedic treatment of all physical aspects of the courts. Above all, there are over 100 pages of “testimonia,” namely catalogues, with translations from Greek and comments, of references in ancient literature to courts, and descriptions of remains of buildings that can be related to courts. This book was formally launched with an international conference at New York University and speakers from Brown, Berkeley, Keele, and Milan.
There followed soon Alan’s second major book, When a Gesture Was Expected (Princeton 1999), which focuses on the gestures presumably performed, when there seems to have been a break in the action or narrative, by characters in texts from Homer downward. Again and again he invites us, even forces us, to follow the original author’s conceptions of what takes place in the narrative. It is only fair to say that Alan has offered us a new technique for the reading and understanding of written texts. The name of the book supplied the title for a Festschrift to Alan, Gestures (Oxford 2003), thirty articles by friends and colleagues following up his interpretations.
Throughout their years in Greece, Alan and Julie gained a deep love for the land and the people. They became fluent in modern Greek and now and then slipped away alone to some favorite valley for a day or two of solitude. Alan himself four times directed the summer tour of Greece, organized by the School and taken by visitors. As time went on, Alan was more and more recruited by various committees for the School. He was a Research Fellow in the Agora Excavations, a Visiting Professor, Chairman of the Managing Committee, and a Trustee of the School and of the Gennadius Library of Byzantine and later Greek literature. At a celebration in Athens for the 130th anniversary of the founding of the School, he was awarded the first Aristeia Award of the Alumni/ae Association, a kind of lifetime honor bestowed on those who have made significant contributions to the improvement and repute of the School.
Trained in Homeric poetry, Alan never lost touch with verse and even ventured to write poetry of his own. He published three slender volumes of highly personal poems (one group of four looking back twenty years to his father’s death), all illustrated in strong, daring modern paintings by George d’Almeida, a relative through marriage. On a higher level, he turned to the difficult poetry of Constantine Cavafy of Alexandria and in 2009 published his translations of 166 of Cavafy’s poems. Over the years at Brown, he served as visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley. In retirement he was visiting professor for two years at Amherst College and for a semester at Florida State University.
We often competed in squash and tennis, in which his son David, who lived in a building adjoining the home of Alan and Julie, sometimes took vigorous part. Our last singles match took place as we entered our 80s: one set all. It is hard to say good-bye.
Alan is survived by his wife Julie, his sister Barbara, brother David, sons David and Alan, daughters Lindley and Alison, and eight grandchildren. (I thank Professor Adele Scafuro for valuable research.)