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.

---

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


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Helen Hansen, a Plan II and public relations freshman at the University of Texas-Austin, wrote an impassioned defense of the Classics Department in her column in The Daily Texan this week.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 10/02/2011 - 2:06pm by Information Architect.

The deadline has been extended to nominate primary and secondary school Classics teachers for the Awards for Excellence in Teaching at the Precollegiate Level that we present jointly with the American Classical League.  October 11, 2011 is the new deadline for receipt of nomination materials in the APA Office.  Thanks to a gift to the APA's Campaign for Classics by Daniel and Joanna Rose, these awards carry a larger honorarium and include a stipend for the awardee's school to use for the purchase of educational materials.  Full details are available on the APA web site.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 09/26/2011 - 5:34pm by Adam Blistein.

A new programme to revive Latin and Greek in our schools

Peter Jones writes in Spectator.co.uk:

Some 15 years ago, at the behest of the then editor Charles Moore, I wrote a jovial 20-week QED: Learn Latin column for the Daily Telegraph. It attracted a huge following, and I still have four large box-files full of letters from users. The majority of them expressed one of three sentiments: ‘I learned Latin at school x years ago, loved it and am delighted to renew my acquaintance’; ‘I learned Latin at school, hated it, but now realise what I have missed’; and ‘I never learned Latin at school and have always regretted it’.

These responses have stayed with me ever since, but they prompt a question: anecdotal evidence about the value people place on Latin is all very well, but would it be possible to produce something a little more objective? Can we demonstrate unconditionally that, as Gilbert Murray argued to the Classical Association in 1954, our pearls are real?

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 09/25/2011 - 7:45pm by Information Architect.

From The Daily Texan's letters to the editor:

“Greek studies” is not about to be eliminated either as a field of study or as a major here, as the story titled “Greek studies to be eliminated from UT majors,” which ran in The Daily Texan on Thursday, suggests. The classics department continues to offer a wide range of courses on the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome (classical studies), and UT students will continue to have multiple options for pursuing degrees that include advanced work in the language and culture of ancient Greece.

Yes, the Higher Education Coordinating Board has directed UT to eliminate one of our majors: the bachelor’s in Greek. But students still have four other degree options that require advanced work in ancient Greek language and culture: classics, classical archaeology, ancient history and classical civilization and Latin. The classics major requires advanced work in both Greek and Latin language. The classical archaeology and ancient history majors require advanced work in classical culture and also in either Greek or Latin. Even the bachelor’s in Latin requires advanced work in either Greek or classical culture.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 7:56pm by Information Architect.

"UT is the only public university in Texas to offer an undergraduate degree in Greek studies, but students entering the University after the current academic year will no longer be able to declare a major in the program. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board directed UT to eliminate its degree in Greek studies following this academic year. The board has suggested colleges cut certain degree programs with low enrollment in order to ease state-wide budget cuts to education." Read more at The Daily Texan …

For clarification, see Professor Stephen White's letter to the editor of The Daily Texan.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sat, 09/24/2011 - 12:43pm by Information Architect.

In support of the Gateway Campaign for Classics in the 21st Century the APA and Boston University will host a benefit on October 6th featuring classically themed readings by four poets.

Boston, Home of the Muses: Classical Translations and Inspirations by Four Eminent Poetswill be held on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 8 p.m. at the Metcalf Trustee Center at Boston University. The evening will feature readings and a reception with

David Ferry, poet, translator, and recent winner of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement.

George Kalogeris, poet and teacher of English Literature and Classics in Translation at Suffolk University.

Robert Pinsky, former United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. 

Rosanna Warren, poet and Emma MacLachlan Metcalf Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.

A pre-performance dinner with the poets for top-tier ticket purchasers will be held at the former President’s residence, known as The Castle, one of Boston University’s most elegant buildings.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Fri, 09/23/2011 - 2:50pm by Adam Blistein.

The Packard Humanities Institute has made its database of Classical Latin texts available online at http://latin.packhum.org/index. Click on "Word Search," then click on the symbol next to the "search" button for directions.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Wed, 09/21/2011 - 12:50am by .

"Before he became a Professor of literature at Harvard, and way before he wrote his classic Shakespeare biography, Will in The World, Stephen Greenblatt was an I'll-read-anything kind of kid. One day, he was standing in the campus book store, and there, in a bin, selling for ten cents (good price, even in 1961) he noticed a thin, little volume called On the Nature of Things, by a Roman writer named Lucretius. When he opened it, he found a description of how the universe came to be. Because Lucretius lived a couple of generations before the birth of Jesus, Stephen was expecting a tale of how gods, goddesses, earth, air, fire and water and an assortment of miracles created everything we see, but as he turned the pages, he says 'his jaw dropped' and 'his head began to burst open,' because Lucretius' creation story doesn't feel remotely ancient. First of all, it's a radically secular account, ignoring gods, goddesses, heaven, hell, life after death, and intelligent design, but more surprising, its logic is eerily, almost spookily modern." Read more, or listen to the interview at NPR.org.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 09/19/2011 - 5:20pm by Information Architect.

"Fragments of ancient, rare manuscripts of Greek classical poetry, Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian Scriptures are being retrieved from papier-mâché-like mummy wrappings on loan to Baylor University -- all part of an international project that will give undergraduate humanities students rare hands-on research. The project, called the Green Scholars Initiative, eventually will include more than 100 universities, with Baylor University as the primary academic research partner. Professor-mentors will guide students through research and publication of articles about rare and unpublished documents, among them an ancient Egyptian dowry contract on loan to Kent State University and an ancient papyrus of Greek statesman Demosthenes' famed "On the Crown" Speech, said Dr. Jerry Pattengale, initiative director and a Distinguished Senior Fellow with Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion." Read more at baylor.edu …

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 09/14/2011 - 1:59am by Information Architect.

"New technology developed by Oxford University’s classics department could help reveal the secrets of historical documents. A spin-out firm is commercialising the scanning device, which uses different wavelengths of light to detect faded or erased ink, for analysing manuscripts and archived documents, as well as modern forgeries. ‘The technical leaps we made mean many ancient documents that were previously unreadable can now be scanned and read,’ said Dr Dirk Obbink, head of the research group that developed the scanner."

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 09/14/2011 - 1:57am by Information Architect.

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