Phillip Howard De Lacy—he published his surname both with and without a space--was born 4 May 1913 in Seattle WA to John Byron and Abigail Green De Lacy. His father, a University of Wisconsin graduate, taught history and English in the Seattle high school system. De Lacy married Estelle Allen on 19 December 1936. Among his many honors, he served the American Philological Association as President in 1966-67. He died on 17 June 2006 in Oak Harbor, Washington. Phil received his B.A. degree (ΦΒΚ) at the University of Washington in 1932. He was the very first President's Medalist at his University of Washington commencement. He was awarded the M.A. at the same institution a year later. Some contemporary observations from the Tyee (UW Yearbook 1933, p. 35):
“Philip [sic] De Lacy, now working for his Master of Arts degree in Greek, was the winner in 1932 of the President’s Medal, presented to the student having the highest scholarship during his four years of college work. De Lacy has received straight “A” grades throughout his college years. His ambition is to be a University professor, and Greek literature, Greek philosophy, and the Greek language are his passion. He reads Greek as readily as English; but during this year he spent much time studying Greek philosophy, which he believes is his most sincere interest. Though he is a Phi Beta and a Greek student, De Lacy is not a grind. Tennis he finds a great pastime. During the summer months he spends hours in work on the farm owned by the De Lacy family, and last summer he built a house on the property.”
He took his Ph.D. at Princeton University with a dissertation written under Robert M. Scoon (Chair of Princeton’s Philosophy department, 1934-1952) entitled "The Problem of Causation in Plato's Philosophy" (1939; published in part in CPh 1939; vide infra). He taught at the following research institutions: Instr. classics, Princeton, 1936-38; asst. prof., Stanford, 1938-40; instr. Latin, U. of Chicago, 1940-3; asst. prof., 1943-49; prof. classics, chair of department, Washington U., 1949-61; acting dean College of Liberal Arts, 1958; dean, 1959-60; prof. classics Northwestern, 1961-65; vis. prof. classics Cornell, 1958-59; prof., 1965-67; prof. classical studies, U. of Pennsylvania, 1967-78; chair of dept., 1967-73; Guggenheim fellow, 1960-61; NEH fellow 1975-76. He served (1971-75) on the American Council of Learned Societies as a delegate, presumably for the APA. De Lacy was president of CAMWS, 1963-4; of the APA, 1966-67. He edited TAPA from 1949 to 1952; and was acting editor of CJ, 1955-56.
De Lacy’s publications included editions and studies of Greek philosophy and medicine. He researched the Hippocratic corpus, Plutarch, and Galen. His studies also investigated Greek and Latin Epicurean philosophy, including Lucretius. He collaborated with the legendarily learned Benedict Einarson, his Chicago friend, to edit, annotate, and translate Plutarch’s Moralia, volumes vii and xiv for the Loeb Classical Library. The latter volume gathers Plutarch’s anti-Epicurean essays. De Lacy’s prose is notably clear, even when he was working on obscure problems in medicine and philosophy. As a teacher he was generous in class, but he carefully guarded his research time (Lateiner enrolled in his small Lucretius course at Cornell in 1966).
Bonnie Catto, one of his (few) PhD students at Penn (Douglas Minyard, Ellen O’Donnell, and Eva Thury were others: 1970 and 1976, three on Lucretius), wrote: “In the fall of 1978 Dr. De Lacy, although already retired, agreed to supervise my doctoral dissertation on the concept of natura in Lucretius and Vergil’s Georgics. As a graduate student who had just passed the doctoral preliminary exams, I had little sense of what I was asking of him and, thus, what he had agreed to undertake. At the time I was teaching full-time in Massachusetts while he was retired in New Jersey; thus our interactions were all by “snail-mail.” As a dissertation advisor he exhibited Epicurean ataraxia and instilled it in me. I would send a chapter with foreboding, and it would soon arrive back in my box with supportive words and gentle suggestions. Dr. De Lacy was a beneficent mentor, and his quiet, guiding hand enabled me to complete the dissertation in the fall of 1980.”
De Lacy’s APA Presidential Lecture of 1967 entitled “The Search for Certainty” circulated privately (non vidi). It would be good to have it published, as David Armstrong noted to me, should someone possess and share a copy.
Indicative of his high level of scholarship and philology are the Loeb Moralia VII, 1959, and especially the eagerly awaited Epicurean essays, Moralia XIV, 1967, an immense help to students of Epicureanism. Both were produced with the very particular and fussy Benedict Einarson’s full approval and full collaboration. (Cf. William Calder’s obituary of this even more reclusive scholar, Gnomon 1979). The Plutarchan F.H. Sandbach’s enthusiastic reviews of VII in CR 10 1960, 214-215, and of XIV, CR 18, 1968, 47-48 (“scholars may be advised to use the Loeb rather than the Teubner for these four works”) compensate for petty fuss suggested by lesser reviewers. “The two Loebs are not just translations but indispensable contributions to the text. Moralia XIV is therefore still very valuable to students of Epicureanism,” as Armstrong added.
David Armstrong comments about Phil and Estelle’s On Methods of Inference, 1941: “This was undertaken when the papyrus, P, was inaccessible both because of the Naples Library’s methods and the coming war. They worked from a rather primitive edition by Gomperz, the early O drawings, which Gomperz was dependent on, and their own wits. Gigante, Longo, and Tepedino Guerra at Naples helped them do P, over 35 years later (!), as vol. 1 of La Scuola di Epicuro, so the second edition of 1978 is at last a full account of P, according to microscope readings which showed Phil and Estelle they should have sometimes been far more cynical about [the supplements suggested by Robert] Philippson, as well as many vital corrections in the text, now shorter and better. (Kleve Gnomon 54, 1982, 79-80). A happy story.”
Galen’s de placitis is a great achievement, as John Scarborough’s review (Isis 71 1980 334-335) makes clear: “De Lacy's text of De placitis is now standard, completely superseding Muller and making the Kuhn edition superfluous. We await with relish the second volume, Books VI-IX, and a third volume, which will be a most valuable index and list of references. De Lacy has made one of Galen's core works accessible to those without Greek and, for those with Greek, has provided a superb text drawn from all the major manuscripts and scholia. For either of these achievements, De Lacy would have the widespread gratitude of scholars and students in the history of medicine and science, the history of philosophy, and Greek philology. For both the accurate text and succinct translation, one can offer fulsome congratulations, appreciation, and the ultimate honor of placing this edition on the list of necessary works for the understanding of Roman medicine.” cf. Scarborough in Sudhoffs Archiv 65.1981, “The Galenic question," 1-31, @ 30.
Armstrong further observes that Phil’s articles tended to be short and to the point, and the best are still cited in the back of Companions to the Stoics or Epicureans to this day because they started a line of thought that pointed to topics that still have interest in the much more organized world of Hellenistic Philosophy studies that has evolved from the 1980s onwards (e.g., Long and Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers 1987). Phil’s publications pointed to valid, legitimate new topics more in the style of current scholarship. All of them have been gone beyond, sometimes FAR beyond, but they retain first-man-up-to-this-particular-plate rights even now. They’re also still fun to read because Phil was a determined enthusiast from the first of Epicurus, Lucretius, and Philodemus on a high intellectual plane.
Vivian Nutton adds: “Phil loved walking on the shore at Barnegat Light, picking up wood for the stove, and was amused to find after a storm that the local fisherman had brought some of the best flotsam and put it by his door, a sure sign that they regarded him as one of their community, unlike the Philadelphia lawyers with weekend cottages – and from his time in Washington state he knew his timber.
“He thought of himself as a sort of journeyman classicist, editing texts because he thought they would be interesting if made accessible, and working hard on the material left to him by Ben Einarson, his friend and colleague. He came to Galen via the Stoics and Plutarch, and his edition of de placitis Hippocratis et Platonis was in many ways a milestone. He was working in the Dark Ages of Galen, before computers brought material to one’s desk, and when commentaries (and editions) had to depend on one’s own knowledge rather than on computerised summaries. His edition, like his Loebs, is understated; it tells you what you need to know without ostentation. It marked a milestone in making a major Galenic philosophical text available in English for the first time – and was soon used in Cambridge [England] as the basis for a series of seminars run by the ancient philosophers. His interests were in the history of thought, which gave him a different perspective. I [Nutton] continued to write to him, but he seemed to fade away, perhaps deliberately. It took a while even for news of his death to reach me, and I never found a good obit. of him. His sort of scholarship is no longer fashionable, but without it, the classical world would be a lot poorer. He was a humble man, devoted to Estelle, and glad to have done what he could for philosophers of the past.”
His chief contributions to Classical Studies are both highly specialized texts, commentaries, and translations of poorly known medical texts for scholars and more accessible essays of Plutarch for the educated public (the two Loeb volumes). His Galenic texts and commentaries in the series Corpus Medicorum Graecorum re-established study of that author in philosophy and medical history. Ralph Rosen writes of De Lacy’s achievement: “sound, no frills, practical scholarship on texts that really needed to brought into the light for the first time (at least in the Anglophone world). He was a pivotal, early scholar in the current renaissance of interest in ancient medicine.”
Anthony and Jennifer Podlecki add from personal experience: “Phil & Estelle were remarkable friends. We felt really lucky to have known them. Phil was Tony's first boss at Northwestern & they really looked after us: entertaining us, being relaxed and friendly, and we were devastated when they left Northwestern to go to Cornell. We all landed in Pennsylvania, we at Penn State & Phil at University of Pennsylvania. We visited them several times in Philadelphia and at their retreat on the Jersey shore. We admired the orderliness of his work arrangements and the meticulousness with which he devoted a good part of each day--he rose very early--to his research. We remember being very much impressed by the scope and range of his library, where the literary authors seemed to be as well represented as the philosophical and scientific. Jacques Jouanna, expert in Hippocratic research, said that (paraphrased) Phil was the outstanding English-speaking scholar working in this field. They were keen gardeners & even made a fine garden out of a yard filled with sand. On a trip west in their early 80's they decided to retire back to the West coast. One of their traditions was to have a strong drink at 5 p.m.—always a “Manhattan”. We used to think they led long & healthy lives because of this. They were joyous people and had many what they called young disciples. We were glad to be included!”
Daniel Harmon points out that Phillip's brother Allan C. De Lacy was a Professor of Fisheries at the U. of Washington for many years. Another brother, Hugh De Lacy, a well-known Seattle leftist, leader of the Washington Commonwealth Federation, and member of the Seattle City Council, served one term as a member of the US Congress (1944-46). He introduced Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger to the term “hootenanny” when they were touring and singing at union pot-lucks in summer 1941 (Wikipedia and Stewart Hendrickson, http://pnwfolklore.org/hootenannies.html, consulted 16 May 2016.
Phil, the embodiment of Epicurean ΑΤΑΡΑΞΙΑ wrote about it with Lucretian passion. He was humble in conversation, a shy colleague but always gentle, good humored, and gentle and friendly especially to the young. He supervised several dissertations, among them at Penn on subjects such as John Douglas Minyard’s "Metrical regularity of expression in the De Rerum Natura of Lucretius," 1970, Eva Maria Thury’s "Nature species ratioque: poetic image and philosophical perspective in the De rerum natura of Lucretius," 1976, Ellen O'Donnell’s, "The transferred use of theater terms as a feature of Plutarch's style," 1975, and Bonnie Arden Catto, "The concept of natura in the De rerum natura of Lucretius and the Georgics of Vergil: its characteristics, powers, and effects upon the earth, man and man's labor," 1981. A friend to many who welcome this SCS opportunity to recollect his fine spirit and many achievements of the scholar, former Editor of TAPhA, and APA President.
Estelle Allen De Lacy was born 16 December 1911 and died 8 August 2009. She was graduated in Classics and Philosophy from the University of Washington (1931, ΦΒΚ). She completed a doctorate at the University of Chicago (1938) on “Meaning and Methodology in Hellenistic Philosophy.” She taught at Roosevelt University in Chicago, published Euclid and Geometry (1963), and with her husband Philodemus. On Methods of Inference (1941, 1978). The couple retired from the University of Pennsylvania to their summer cottage in Barnegat Light, New Jersey, and later to Oak Harbor, Washington, the state from which they came. Estelle was a warm and welcoming, insightful person. The De Lacys worked together on many philosophical and philological projects and were thoughtful hosts. Her extreme modesty deprived many acquaintances of awareness of her considerable learning and achievements.
The De Lacys endowed a fund for fellowships in both the University of Washington Classics department and Philosophy department. Another substantial De Lacy bequest, part of which helped fund the De Lacy Classics Library Endowment, went to the Classics collection in the same university’s libraries.
Donald Lateiner gratefully acknowledges the generous and enthusiastic assistance of Anthony and Jennifer Podlecki, Daniel Harmon, David Armstrong, Bonnie Catto, Georgia Machemer, Vivian Nutton, Ralph Rosen, and Robert Kaster.
Sources: personal recollections of the author and his e-mail correspondents listed above; WhAm 40 (1978/9) 808; W.W. Briggs, Database of Classical Scholars (WWW), “Classical News from Denny Hall” (University of Washington Classics Newsletter) 41 (2006) and 44 (2012) [see also that department’s website]. The middle photo of Phillip De Lacy, dated 2 July 1976, was taken at the author’s wedding reception by Karen Smith (as was the photo of Estelle De Lacy); the photograph on the right was taken at William McDermott’s University of Pennsylvania retirement party, 21 April 1975, by Georgia Machemer Minyard.