In Memoriam: Theodore V. Buttrey, Jr.

(Written by Sarah E. Cox, and shared with the SCS by Ofelia N. Salgado-Buttrey)

Theodore V. Buttrey, Jr.

29 December 1929 – 9 January 2018

Renowned educator, numismatist and classicist, Theodore V. (“Ted”) Buttrey, Jr., died on January 9, 2018, eleven days after his 88th birthday.  Born in Havre, Montana, as a child he attended the Peacock Military Academy in San Antonio, Texas, where he first encountered the coins of Mexico, a life-long interest.  His secondary education was at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, after which he entered Princeton University, graduating magna cum laude in 1950 in Classics.  In the summer of 1952, he participated in the inaugural Summer Seminar in Numismatics conducted by the American Numismatic Society, an experience that may well have been pivotal in setting the later course of his career.  In 1953, still at Princeton, he completed his Ph.D. thesis on a numismatic subject, “Studies in the Coinage of Marc Anthony,” a chapter of which was condensed and published as “Thea Neotera on Coins of Antony and Cleopatra,” ANS Museum Notes 6 (1954), pp. 95-109.  There followed a Fulbright scholarship to study in Rome.

In 1954 Ted joined the faculty of Yale University, where he remained for a decade, first as an instructor and then as assistant professor in the Department of Classical Studies; he also served as curator of the numismatic collection and, from 1962 to 1964, as assistant professor in the Department of Medieval Studies.  In 1964 he moved to the University of Michigan, where he remained until his retirement in 1985, starting as associate professor of Greek and Latin and rising to full professor in 1968.  From 1969 to 1971 he also served as Director of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.  After retiring from Michigan he moved to the University of Cambridge, to become an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Classics of Clare Hall College, where he had previously been a Visiting Fellow and Resident Member.  In addition, from 1988 to 1991 he served as Keeper of Coins and Medals at the Fitzwilliam Museum, and from 2008 until his death held the post of Honorary Keeper of Coins.  Ted was a life member of the SCS (the APA at that time) and the AIA, as well as a member of the Royal Numismatic Society and the Société Française de Numismatique, and he received a host of awards and honors, including the Medal of the Royal Numismatic Society, the Huntington Medal of the ANS, the medal of the Norwegian Numismatic Society, and the Wolfgang Hahn Medal of the Institut für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte of Vienna University.

Ted’s publications, both books and articles, totaled well over 100.  Most were concerned with topics in numismatics, especially antiquity, where the broad span of his interests encompassed Athenian coins, Republican denarii, Flavian coins, the coinage of Pescennius Niger, and even calculating ancient coin production.  The modern era of numismatics also consumed much of his time, and a challenge to the authenticity of a collector’s gold bars of the Spanish-American southwest even got his name in the newspapers.  But he never forsook his devotion to Classics, as evidenced by his early article, “Accident and Design in Euripides’ Medea,” published in AJP in 1958, while he was at Yale, and to an even greater extent by the television programs he produced for Michigan Media on Homer, Greek drama and theatre, Herodotus, Suetonius, and other classical subjects.  As recently as 2015, in conversations at the International Numismatic Congress in Taormina, he discussed plans for a book on the role of fate in Oedipus Rex, arguing against the idea of unshakeable destiny.

While never thought of as one who suffered fools gladly, he was a charismatic teacher and approachable mentor, encouraging of younger scholars, as well as a witty and engaging raconteur.  He will be greatly missed, but he leaves an immense legacy for his students, colleagues, and family to cherish and spread.

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


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The Classical Association of the Atlantic States (CAAS) seeks a Webmaster to work jointly with our current Webmaster beginning on or about June 1, 2014, and to assume full responsibility beginning October 11, 2014. The position has a three-year, renewable term, subject to annual review by the CAAS Board of Directors. The annual stipend will be $4,000, subject to approval by the Board.

The Webmaster will manage the online process of submitting and evaluating abstracts to support the Program Committee; maintain the platforms supporting the organization’s work (e.g. WordPress, Google Apps, Insightly) and identify new platforms as needed; facilitate document-sharing for Board meetings; manage email aliases for Board members, and so forth.

In consultation with CAAS senior officers, the Webmaster will have editorial oversight of articles posted on the website and will have responsibility for publishing announcements to the CAAS community online and via email. The Webmaster also will guide CAAS in implementing and overseeing social media in support of our mission.

Applicants should send a cover letter and a curriculum vitae by April 1, 2014, to the chair of the search committee: Professor Janet M. Martin, CAAS President, by email at <jmmartin@princeton.edu>.

View full article. | Posted in General Announcements on Tue, 03/04/2014 - 10:44am by Adam Blistein.

Unexpectedly spending a couple of extra days in Chicago this January, as I viewed quiet snowfall against the backdrop of the seasonal lights on the Wrigley Building and watched the gradual freezing of the Chicago River, I found moments of calm to reflect on the state of our APA as I had come to know it during my year as President-Elect. One deceptively simple word seemed to encapsulate the complex process of finding our way forward in this fast-paced world as an organization devoted to the distant past, and that word is service. The APA is a service organization, which has traditionally meant service to those who choose to be members but now increasingly means also service to others, to any and all who wish to participate in our various explorations of the classical world. How to frame the interaction of these two is our current challenge.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 11:00am by Adam Blistein.

The Digital Latin Library (DLL) will be a site on the Internet where people with varying levels of interest and expertise in Latin can find, read, discuss, study, teach, edit, and annotate Latin texts of all eras, whether for personal use or for open-access, peer-reviewed publication by one of the three learned societies affiliated with the project: the American Philological Association (APA), the Medieval Academy of America (MAA), and the Renaissance Society of America (RSA). Similar to a traditional public research library, the DLL will have a catalog, a variety of collections of texts and reference materials, and working space for both individuals and groups. Unlike a research library, it will also provide tools to facilitate the creation and publication of open, born-digital critical editions and other scholarly and pedagogical resources that take full advantage of powerful technologies and techniques such as Linked Open Data (LOD), information visualization, and visual data analysis, opening up new possibilities for the communication of scholarly ideas.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 10:55am by Adam Blistein.

In response to a request by members at the annual business meeting in Chicago last month, the APA Board of Directors has authorized me to publish the tabulation of votes in last summer’s referendum concerning the change of the Association’s name.  As members are aware, it has been the Association’s policy for almost two decades not to publish numerical tabulations when we report election results (although any individual member may request a tabulation from me).  The Board is willing to make an exception in this case because no individual candidate is included in the results below. 

The referendum question asked members to vote on the Board’s recommendation that the Association’s name be changed to the Society for Classical Studies provided that the new name was accompanied by the following subtitle:  “Founded in 1869 as the American Philological Association”.  In last summer’s election a total of 1,305 members cast a ballot on at least one slate.  On the referendum question

603 voted to approve the new name
552 voted to disapprove the new name
137 checked the box to abstain
13 cast no vote at all

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 8:57am by Adam Blistein.

The 2013-2014 Nominating Committee has submitted its report, which includes the slate of candidates for the election to be held this summer.  Members are reminded that it is possible to nominate additional candidates by petition.  Nominations of candidates not proposed by the Nominating Committee shall require the signature of twenty members in good standing (2014 dues must be paid) and must be reported to the Executive Director by April 15, 2014.  A current curriculum vitae of the candidate, who must also be a member in good standing, should be submitted by the same deadline.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 02/25/2014 - 2:33pm by Adam Blistein.

National Public Radio presents a talk by a classics teacher (among other things) with an unusual view of the subjunctive.

http://www.npr.org/2013/12/13/248195238/does-the-subjunctive-have-a-dark-side

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 02/17/2014 - 4:15pm by Adam Blistein.

Greek Myth is one of the standbys of Classics general-education courses at colleges and universities across the United States.  These courses often have high enrollments and are populated by students with little prior knowledge about the ancient Mediterranean world who are taking the course to fulfill a degree requirement.  They may take Myth because of a lifelong interest in the stories (or because they’ve read the Percy Jackson series), they may be inspired to major in Classics by the course, or they may never read or think about Graeco-Roman culture after the term ends.

A common way of teaching the Myth survey course is like a panorama, a wide-angle shot that tries to fit in as much content as possible from a high-altitude perspective.  I took a different approach in my fall 2013 Greek Myth course at Wake Forest University — a closeup, zooming in on one specific ancient myth-cycle in elaborate detail.  Rather than try to cover Graeco-Roman mythology from Chaos to Romulus, encountering tidbits of art and literature from Homer to Ovid, my course focused on just one mythic figure, and students studied every major visual and textual treatment of that figure that survives from the ancient world.

The myth-cycle I selected was Herakles/Hercules.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 02/17/2014 - 12:22pm by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad.

Due to bad weather conditions, the University of Pennsylvania has suspended normal operations for February 13, 2014.  The APA Office will therefore be closed as well.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 02/12/2014 - 8:27pm by Adam Blistein.

In my post last month I referred to the crucial role that study abroad played in my formation as a classicist, and the papers delivered at a panel on study-abroad programs at this year’s annual meeting showed that I am not alone. Those papers (by McGinn, Severy-Hoven, Thakur, Morris, and Romano) spoke eloquently of the profound impact on students of exploring the remains of ancient Greece and Rome and their continuities with the present. It is easy to dismiss the American form of “junior year abroad” as lightweight, but if we allow ourselves a broad perspective on what constitutes worthwhile learning in the humanities—as I argued we should last month—it is clear that study abroad provides unparalleled opportunities for such education.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 02/12/2014 - 4:16pm by Curtis Dozier.

Within the next two weeks we will post a link to the online system we will use this year to receive submissions of abstracts and proposals and reports for review by the APA Program Committee.  Proposals for at-large panels, committee panels, workshops, seminars, and roundtable discussion sessions; reports by organizer-refereed panels and affiliated groups chartered to present sessions in January 2015; and applications for charters for 2016 and beyond will be due on April 25, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. The deadline for submission of individual abstracts will be May 16, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT.  In the interim, see this document describing the materials required for each type of submission.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 02/07/2014 - 3:24pm by Adam Blistein.

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