In Memoriam: Albert Henrichs

Albert Henrichs (December 29, 1942 – April 16, 2017)

On June 14, 1969, Albert Henrichs arrived in Vienna from Cologne, carrying four lumps of ancient leather in a cigar box. An expert Austrian conservator gradually unpeeled what turned out to be 192 pages of a tiny book measuring 1.4 x 1.8 inches, written in Greek and dating from the fifth century CE. By evening the following day, Henrichs had transcribed the text. It was a sensation for the history of religion: a detailed tract about Manichaeism, a rival of Christianity, founded in Mesopotamia in the third century by a young mystic called Mani, whose autobiographical account of his divine revelations is quoted in the text. Henrichs was 26. His publication of this astonishing codex, together with Ludwig Koenen, curator of papyri at Cologne, sealed his reputation as a Wunderkind of classical scholarship.

            As a baby, Henrichs was rescued from the carpet-bombing of Cologne to spend his early years in Bad Ems, originally a settlement on the northern border of the Roman empire. After the war, American GIs barracked in a nearby villa made the cherubic toddler their mascot, spoiling him with oranges and peanuts; Henrichs later attributed his affinity for the United States to that early memory from a war-stricken childhood. Subsequently educated at Cologne (PhD 1966), he spent two years working on the papyri collection at the University of Michigan, returning to Cologne for his Habilitation and then moving to Berkeley in 1971. He was appointed with tenure at Harvard in 1973 at the precocious age of thirty. In 1984 he was appointed the tenth Eliot Professor of Greek Literature, the first to have been neither born in the United States nor educated at Harvard.

            Henrichs’ training as a papyrologist afforded him a second sensational coup: the publication of 46 fragments from a second-century papyrus codex containing excerpts from a lurid Greek novel, Phoinikika (“Phoenician Saga”), by an otherwise unknown Lollianos. In it, a frank account of the protagonist’s loss of virginity pales into insignificance beside a subsequent episode, in which the protagonist, having joined a band of robbers in Egypt, participates in an act of human sacrifice and cannibalism, consuming the heart of a murdered boy to seal his oath of allegiance to the gang. All this Henrichs pieced together and explicated from the most daunting jigsaw of broken pieces. Unparalleled command of ancient Greek and its literature, profound knowledge of the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, and the papyrologist’s tenacious attention to detail were the hallmarks of his scholarship.

            In his latter years, with his halo of white hair and rotund form, Henrichs resembled Silenus, a prominent figure in the boisterous revelry accompanying Dionysus, Henrichs’ favorite god and a persistent theme in his scholarship. In the latter half of the twentieth century, scholarship on Greek religion focused on ritual. Henrichs brought it back to the question of the gods, and what made them so: immortality, anthropomorphism, and power. He showed that the dancing of the tragic chorus, hitherto interpreted as a vestige of the ritual origins of tragedy, is a unique element of each play, crafted by the playwright to reflect an emotional response to the unfolding of the plot. His scholarly publications—nearly 200 in all—always bloomed afresh, rooted in the history of scholarship, which he knew intimately. The reception of Dionysus in modern culture also fascinated him, as did writers and cultural icons as varied as Rilke, Yeats, Mark Twain, Jim Morrison, and Lawrence of Arabia. His writing, whether in his native German or (flawless) English, was clear, compelling, and electric with insight.

            As a teacher, Albert Henrichs was unforgettable. His learning was legendary, and yet in every class he approached the text with the excitement of somebody discovering it for the first time. He taught until shortly before his death, stopping only when he could no longer reach Boylston Hall. At home, his hospitality was worthy of a devotee of Dionysus. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is mourned by generations of devoted students and colleagues the world over, and by his wife, Sarah Nolan; his children by his first marriage, Markus and Helen; their mother, Ursula; and two grandchildren.

Submitted by Kathleen M. Coleman, Harvard University, with gratitude to Sarah Nolan for much vivid detail.

---

(Photo: "Candle" by Shawn Carpenter, licensed under CC BY 2.0)   

Categories

Follow SCS News for information about the SCS and all things classical.

Use this field to search SCS News
Select a category from this list to limit the content on this page.

From the SCS Board of Directors, approved 6/3/20

The Society for Classical Studies condemns the relentless horror of police brutality and murder of black men, women, and children, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Rodney King, to name just a few of the victims. Brutality perpetrated by the police and others stands with mass incarceration and unequal access to healthcare, education, and housing as symptoms of longstanding systemic, structural, and institutional racism in American and European cultures. These are deep problems in society that will not be fixed without radical policy changes at every level of government and across all institutions.   

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Wed, 06/03/2020 - 6:20am by Helen Cullyer.

The new Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. In this post we focus on digital projects that engage with ancient texts and discuss the study of Classics during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/29/2020 - 7:55am by .

Fellowships, Scholarships, and Grants, January – April 2020

Some of our short-term fellowship and Classics Everywhere award winners are deferring use of their awards until Fall 2020 or 2021 owing to COVID-19. However, we congratulate everyone who was awarded a scholarship, fellowship or grant this spring, and we thank our selection committees for their hard work.

TLL Fellowship:

Amy Koenig

Pearson Fellowship:

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 05/27/2020 - 5:32pm by Helen Cullyer.

Please see below a message from the SCS President, followed by a listing of 2020 graduates:

With in-person celebrations ruled out by the coronavirus pandemic, the Society for Classical Studies is proud to recognize the many graduates at all levels across North America who have chosen to make serious and sustained study of the ancient Mediterranean world a significant part of their education.  For those who are earning PhD’s, we welcome the new contributions to knowledge that each of you has made, and we pledge our support and guidance as you negotiate an even more challenging professional landscape than you signed up for.  We warmly salute all degree-recipients who are pursuing careers in the vital enterprise of K-12 education.  For those who are going in other directions, we take great satisfaction in the variety of paths you will be following.  We hope the classical world will remain an important part of your lives, and we invite you to visit our website, read our blog, and join the SCS as “Friends of Classics.”  And we count on you as lifelong advocates for the value of studying Greco-Roman and ancient Mediterranean history and culture: please take every opportunity to spread the word that the ancient world still presents us with new questions to investigate and with multiple points of reference for thinking through our present-day concerns.  Heartfelt congratulations to all!

View full article. | Posted in Presidential Letters on Mon, 05/25/2020 - 12:11pm by Helen Cullyer.

The Arabic and Latin Glossary (hereafter al-gloss) is a free, online dictionary of the vocabulary used by medieval translators, primarily working in eleventh- to thirteenth-century Italy and Spain, to render the Arabic versions of Greek scientific and philosophical texts and original Arabic compositions into Latin. It is parallel, in terms of its scholarly goals and methodology, to the database Glossarium Graeco-Arabicum (hereafter gloss-ga), which is also run out of Germany but by a different team. In this review, I will refer to gloss-ga because it offers a point of comparison for assessing al-gloss’ editorial decisions and accessibility.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/22/2020 - 3:23pm by .
Books

Loeb Classical Library Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Classics

2021-2023

The Trustees of the Loeb Classical Library Foundation announce funding of four two-year postdoctoral fellowships to be held in the academic years 2021–2023. [A further four fellowships will be funded for the academic years 2022–2024] The details for the first round of competition for these fellowships are as follows:

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 05/21/2020 - 2:30pm by Helen Cullyer.

Many congratulations to Erik Shell who graduates today with his M.A. in Education Policy from NYU. Erik has been working part-time on his degree while working full-time for SCS in many roles. He runs the the Placement Service, works on social media and our website, coordinates our departmental membership program, edits video, and does so many other things. Thank you, Erik, for everything you do for SCS and its members, and congratulations on a well-deserved Masters degree!

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 05/20/2020 - 8:09am by Helen Cullyer.

Have you ever thought about a terminal MA in Classics?

I have to confess, I hadn’t before coming to teach at Boston College, where we have such a graduate program. I had firsthand experience with Classics BAs in colleges that only granted undergraduate degrees, BAs and MAs in PhD-granting departments — heck, even a combined BA/MA program. But a freestanding MA degree that was a purposeful end goal rather than an add-on, an along-the-way, or a no-more-thanks? It never crossed my mind. To judge from the conversations that I’ve had since joining a department with a terminal MA program, I think that’s true of a lot of Classics faculty, as well as for a lot of students. And I also think that has led to some unfortunate misunderstandings about terminal MAs and their contributions, both to the field as a whole and to the personal and professional development of individual students.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/15/2020 - 8:26am by Christopher Polt.

Barbara K. Gold is Edward North Professor of Classics at Hamilton College, Emerita. She received her B.A. at the University of Michigan in 1966, her master’s degree in 1968 and her doctorate in 1975, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on Greek and Roman literature, particularly Roman elegy, lyric, and satire; medieval literature, culture, and history; Roman social history; women in the ancient world; and feminist criticism. A prolific author and recipient of numerous grants and awards, Professor Gold was the first woman editor of The American Journal of Philology from 2000 to 2008 and is currently Vice President for Professional Matters of the Society for Classical Studies. She has also served on numerous college committees and was Associate Dean of Faculty at Hamilton College (1997-2001).

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 05/08/2020 - 5:01am by Claire Catenaccio.

THE ERICH S. GRUEN PRIZE

On behalf of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS), the Erich S. Gruen Prize Committee invites all graduate students in North America to enter the first annual competition for the best graduate research paper on multiculturalism in the ancient Mediterranean. This year the prize will be a cash award of $500. 

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Thu, 05/07/2020 - 6:55am by Erik Shell.

Pages

Latest Stories

Public Statements
Presidential Letters
Please see below a message from the SCS President, followed by a list

© 2019, Society for Classical Studies Privacy Policy