In Memoriam Valerie French

Valerie French, Associate Professor Emerita of History in American University, Washington, D.C., died suddenly in her home in Washington, Dec. 8, 2011, in her 71st year. She was born in Toledo, Ohio, Jan. 16, 1941. She received her B.A. degree in chemistry from Cornell University, where her interest in ancient history was awakened in classes under Donald Kagan. She pursued ancient history at UCLA, where she gained her M.A. and Ph. D. (1971) degrees, learning her needed languages in graduate school. She taught at American University from 1969 until her retirement in 2005. She received multiple awards for teaching and for her work in administration. Ebullient and supportive towards all, she served several years as a dean. She published widely on the history and activities of women and children in antiquity and sustained by herself the program in ancient history at American University. Other colleagues will discuss her work in these areas. This notice will focus on her strictly scientific work. It has remained little known but is of the highest importance for Greek, especially Athenian, history.

Her dissertation at UCLA was “The First Tribute Stele and the Athenian Empire, 455-445 B.C.,” 173 pp. It is unpublished but available from University Microfilms, under the name Valerie French Allen; she later gave up the name Allen and was known in her last decades by her maiden name, Valerie French. The official copy of the dissertation is held by the Department of History, UCLA. The work is a highly detailed study of the texts of the first ten of the Athenian tribute lists inscribed on the famous First Stele, or Lapis Primus, preserved in the Epigraphic Museum, Athens. The tribute lists constitute a document second only to Thucydides for our knowledge of fifth-century history. In this study French rigorously brought to bear her scientific training and proposed many important new readings and hypotheses. In measuring and reading the often worn and fragmentary letters she had the advice of Markellos Mitsos, the director of the EM, and of two of America’s preeminent epigraphists, Professors Ronald Stroud and Stephen Tracy. She drew attention to the need for multiple measurements of all ambiguous letters and preserved her many original readings in the notes to her discussion. The result is the only precise study of the texts of the tribute lists since the edition of the lists, known to all as ATL, by Meritt, Wade-Gery, and McGregor (Cambridge-Princeton, 1939-1953). Any future editor of the lists will inevitably have to use French’s work on the texts.

She submitted her manuscript to the University of California Press, which replied that it would not “publish all those numbers,” that is, her many records of measurements of the letters in her endnotes. Discouraged by this reply, she apparently lost interest in pursuing another publisher and turned to interests in other fields. Her publications in fifth-century classical studies are essentially limited to essays in Festschriften dedicated to Truesdell Brown, Donald Kagan, and Mortimer Chambers. The result is that her work on the Athenian empire has been all but totally overlooked. McGregor, who heard about it, requested from her a photocopy of her dissertation but seems to have made no use of it. It is briefly mentioned by Raphael Sealey in his A History of the Greek City States (Berkeley-Los Angeles 1976 etc., pp. 286, 296), in a discussion of W.K. Pritchett’s suggestion that a decorative relief, perhaps containing one list on its back, was mounted on the first stele above list 1. French (pp. 38-41) examined the surface at the top of the first stele and concluded that there was probably “a decorative relief which has been totally destroyed,” but she reserved judgment about whether this hypothetical relief also carried a list of a year’s tribute.

As one specimen of the originality and importance of her work, we may look at the first line of List 9 as numbered by ATL. This line is designated as a prescript by ATL (that is, it supposedly follows the usual formula at the head of a year’s record, “under the ninth board of treasurers, for which ... was secretary,” following which would come a list of cities that paid tribute. The reader will note, however, that only three Greek letters in the whole line are printed in ATL. The first is a dotted (that is, by epigraphic convention, uncertain) alpha, which ATL understands as the first letter of á¼€[ρχε̃ς], “board.” Eight letter-spaces farther on, ATL printed ἐν[á½±τες], “ninth,” in which both epsilon and nu are undotted, that is, considered certain by the editors.

Through repeated measurements of these supposed letters and the location of letters under them in the list of states paying tribute, specifically the name of the city Μενδα[á¿–οι], French showed that the undotted epsilon and nu of ἐν[á½±τες] cannot be read and, more crucially, that the whole line is not, as ATL held,  the prescript heading the records of tribute for the year. She finally sketched and interpreted the preserved marks as rho, gamma, alpha, part of [Βε]ργα[á¿–οι], a city in the Thraceward region; and the column in question contains only Thraceward names, thus “Bergaioi is the most likely restoration.”

French’s results support those of David Lewis, ABSA 49 (1954) 25-28, who with George Forrest had rejected the supposed alpha of á¼€[ρχε̃ς] as “no more than an accidental nick on a much-worn stone.” For Lewis, there was “a distinct possibility that the letters [sc. epsilon, nu of ATL’s ἐν[á½±τες] are not part of a prescript.” Lewis could not accept ATL’s ἐν[ and finallysaw “no alternative to the reading [Βερ]γ[αá¿–οι],” which was to be French’s final suggestion. Note, however, that she read rho, gamma, and a possible alpha, thus carrying the decipherment beyond Lewis. Her work on these letters, it will be seen, is not confined to rediscovering the name of one city, but requires a whole reconsideration of ATL’s list 9.

There is not enough space here to discuss the other critical subjects that French surveyed in her dissertation, such as ATL’s very adventurous opinion (barely accepted, reluctantly, by Meiggs-Lewis in their collection, p. 135) that in the year 449/8 the Athenians collected no tribute whatever and resumed collection in the next year. Rejecting this conclusion after detailed argument, French writes, “there is no ‘missing list,’ no year in which tribute was not collected” (p. 63). On all such topics French maintains her iron concentration and clear, vigorous prose;  and she provides data available nowhere else. Her work, based on a direct, hands-on study of the famous Lapis Primus, will surely some day receive the attention that it deserves.

Mortimer Chambers

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To submit to the SCS program committee, see the following link and deadlines:

The program submission system is now open: https://program.classicalstudies.org/

You must be a current SCS member to log into the system. To renew you membership or check your membership status, check our membership site.

The deadlines for submitting proposals and abstracts via the program submission system are:

  • Monday, April 25th, 2022 at 11.59pm EDT:

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  • Monday, May 2nd, 2022 at 11.59pm EDT: 

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View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 04/05/2022 - 11:51am by Helen Cullyer.

The Classical Association of New England (CANE) invites you to this year's CANE Summer Institute, “Maiores a(n)d Posteriores: Imagining ‘classical antiquity’ into the future” on July 11-16, 2022. For the past several decades, CANE has offered a week-long program of mini-courses, professional development workshops, reading groups, and public lectures.

This summer, access to the institute will be offered in two formats: in person at Brown University (room and board options available) and online via CANE Zoom. Participants choose one format when registering. The mini-courses will be offered separately for in-person and online participants; workshops and reading groups will accommodate participants in both formats; public lectures will be in-person and live-streamed simultaneously. For information about this year’s offerings, including descriptions of our mini-courses, professional development workshops, reading groups, and public lectures, please visit www.caneweb.org/csi to link to the full program information and online registration option.

View full article. | Posted in Summer Programs on Mon, 04/04/2022 - 11:22am by .

AMPRAW is an annual conference that is designed to bring together early-career researchers in the field of classical reception studies, and will be held for the tenth year. It aims to contribute to the growth of an international network of PhDs working on classical reception(s), as well as to strengthen relationships between early career researchers and established academics.

AMPRAW 2022 will be held at Yale University from Thursday 3rd November to Saturday 5th November 2022, with the generous support of the Department of Classics at Yale University, the ARCHAIA program, and the Whitney Humanities Centre.

We anticipate holding this conference in a hybrid format. We hope that participants will be able to join us in person in New Haven, but will also allow remote access for both speakers and audience members.

This year’s theme is “Islands”. Possible topics may include, but need not be limited to, the following:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 03/30/2022 - 3:44pm by .
Penn Public Lectures - Co-Creating Antiquities

Co-Creating Antiquities

New Futures for the Greek and Roman Past

Featuring: Joy Connolly (President of the American Council of Learned Societies)

The Penn Public Lectures on Classical Antiquity and the Contemporary World aim to advance understanding of the many ways the past is put to use in building the present. They will be delivered by visionary scholars of ancient Greece and Rome, who will reimagine the role those ancient cultures have played over time in the building of later cultural forms, including the discipline of Classical Studies itself.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 03/30/2022 - 1:24pm by .

Arheologia is a research journal of the Institute of Archaeology, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine discussing problems of archaeology. The journal presents articles on ancient history and archaeology from prehistory till the Early Modern period, publications of new materials and research results regarding the sites situated on the territory of Ukraine and beyond, biographic materials, reviews and chronicles. The journal’s audience are historians, local lore researchers, teachers, students of historical departments, general public interested in the ancient history of Ukraine.

Arheologia is asking for direct support in the form of scholarship. The executive editor, Dr. Tetiania Shevchenko, has put out a call requesting non-Ukrainian submissions to the journal. The journal is open access (no publication fees) and accepts submissions in English. There's already a range of Classics relevant articles published in the journal, so additional relevant research in Classics is welcome.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 03/30/2022 - 11:20am by .
Books

New Directions in the Study of Women in the Greco-Roman World

Book Launch to Celebrate the Book and its dedicatee, Sarah B. Pomeroy

When: Monday, April 4, 2022, 1:00pm-2:30pm EDT

Where: Zoom (email Ronnie Ancona for information: rancona@hunter.cuny.edu)

Sarah Pomeroy’s groundbreaking Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves introduced scholars, students, and general readers to an exciting new area of inquiry: women in classical antiquity. Almost fifty years later, New Directions in the Study of Women in the Greco-Roman World builds upon and moves beyond Pomeroy’s seminal work to represent the next step in this interdisciplinary field.

View full article. | Posted in General Announcements on Wed, 03/30/2022 - 10:41am by .

(posted on behalf of Jakub Pigoń with details from Ukrainian Wikipedia entry)

Oleksandr Kyslyuk, a historian and classicist, was born in 1962. He graduated from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and was active as a language teacher (including ancient Greek) and, in particular, as a translator from Greek, Latin and other languages at the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary of the UOC-KP (1993-2005). Most recently, he was a senior lecturer at the Department of Theory and History of State and Law of the Institute of Political Science and Law of the National Pedagogical University MP Dragomanova, where he conducted classes in Latin and Roman law. Aristotle's Politics, Xenophon's Anabasis and a treatise by Thomas of Aquinas were among the works he rendered into Ukrainian. He died on March 5, 2022 in Bucha near Kyiv.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Tue, 03/29/2022 - 1:16pm by .
University of British Columbia - AMNE department

The Department of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies celebrates its new identity

Questioning and building upon what has come before

View full article. | Posted in General Announcements on Tue, 03/29/2022 - 10:14am by .
Roman Forum

This course in Italy will focus on creating antiracist curricula in the Latin classroom and will take place from July 18th - July 29th in Rome and the Bay of Naples. The course includes visits to many of the major sites in Rome and the Bay of Naples in afternoons or on full-day excursions. The Vergilian Society has scholarships available and the deadline to apply has been extended to April 11th. These scholarships often cover the entire tour apart from the flight.

This tour is intended as a collaborative experience where extensive resources will be shared, everyone's voice is welcome, and participants work as a group to envision a better model for the field at the PK-12 level.

More details can be found here: https://www.vergiliansociety.org/diversifying-the-latin.../

View full article. | Posted in Summer Programs on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 11:33am by Helen Cullyer.
Fortunatae Journal Cover in yellow

Fortunatae, Revista Canaria de Filología, Cultura y Humanidades Clásicas, is edited by the Classical Studies Section of the Classical, French, Arabic and Romance Philology Department at Universidad de La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain).

Since its origins in 1991, the Journal publishes original, new research papers, notes and reviews, written by National and International contributors. Its scope is ample, focusing on diverse literary manifestations, new perspectives, subjects and theories originated in the field of classical studies and its continuity in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Past issues of Fortunatae edited up to date show a periodical and prestigious publishing line, not only by the quality and originality of some of its contributions, but also by the bibliographical repertoire followed in the field of research to which it pertains. Published twice-a-year since 2019, Fortunatae accepts papers, being June and December the publication dates respectively.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 03/24/2022 - 8:21am by Helen Cullyer.

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