In Memoriam: Edward Courtney

(Text provided by Tony Woodman, Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics Emertius at the University of Virginia, and Sara Myers, Professor and Chair of Classics, UVA)

Edward Courtney, Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Virginia, passed away peacefully on 24 November 2019. He was born in 1932 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and retained his Belfast accent throughout his life. After an outstanding career as an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin, where he won medals for his translations into Greek and Latin verse, he was a Research Lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford, before being appointed in 1959 to a Lectureship at King’s College, London, eventually being promoted to Professor. In 1982 he and his family emigrated to the United States, where he was Ely Professor of Classics at Stanford University; but, when the Gildersleeve Chair of Classics was inaugurated at the University of Virginia, Ted became its first holder in 1993, retiring in 2002.

He started publishing in 1954 with a review of A.Y. Campbell’s edition of Horace, a favourite author, and amongst his many publications, which in total amount to over 130 items, are eleven books: critical editions of Valerius Flaccus (1970), Ovid’s Fasti (1978, in collaboration), Juvenal (1984), the poems of Petronius (1984), and Statius’ Silvae (1990); commentaries on Juvenal (1980), the fragmentary Latin poets (1993), Latin verse inscriptions (1995), and archaic Latin prose (1999); in collaboration with his friend Niall Rudd he also wrote a more elementary commentary on selected satires of Juvenal for use in schools (1977). He said at the time that A Companion to Petronius (2001) would be his last book, and so it proved, but for the next decade and a half he continued to produce a stream of incisive articles on a wide range of Latin texts. Reviewing his Fragmentary Latin Poets in 1999, Michael Reeve said that ‘it is hard to think of any other scholar alive today who could have tackled with such erudition and such independence of judgement the whole range from the minor works of Ennius to Tiberianus and Symmachus’. Twenty years later these words serve as an appropriate memorial of the friend and scholar we have lost.

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

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