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 It is unpublished but available from University Microfilms, under the name Valerie French Allen; she later gave up the name Allen and was known in her last decades by her maiden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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The new Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. In this post we honor Black History Month and focus on programs that support and encourage the engagement of black communities globally with the study of classical antiquity.

Advocacy, growth, and inclusion are the three new strategic priorities that the SCS is committing to for the immediate future. The following programs, funded by Classics Everywhere, exemplify these priorities by seeking out and fostering the perspective of black students, scholars, and artists in the study of classical antiquity and its legacy: an event celebrating the release of a new book on classical reception, a public panel in Ghana, and the creation of a new curriculum for young African Americans in New Orleans.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 02/28/2020 - 6:54am by .

“BA Program in the Archaeology, History, and Literature of Ancient Greece”

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 02/27/2020 - 10:15am by Erik Shell.

Languages of Ecology: Ancient and Early Modern Approaches to Nature

Colloquium at the Getty Research Institute
Getty Research Institute & Volkswagen Foundation
 
March 18, 2020 | Museum Lecture Hall
Organized by Jesús Muñoz Morcillo, GRI Volkswagen Foundation Fellow

Languages of Ecology: Ancient and Early Modern Approaches to Nature focuses on the origins, variety, and transformations of notions of ecology in antiquity and the early modern period.

The colloquium aims to initiate an interdisciplinar debate about epistemic and literary-based image production that led to popular, symbolic, and new scientific notions of ecology. Studies into the foundations and traditions of environmental thinking and ancient experiences of nature, including eco-critical attitudes, enable a better understanding of the different languages of ecology that emerged and co-existed during the early modern period and beyond.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Thu, 02/27/2020 - 9:02am by Erik Shell.

AGAMBEN AND HIS INTERLOCUTORS

April 2-3, 2020, Marshall University

Call for papers

The inaugural Agamben and His Interlocutors Conference will take place April 2-3, 2020, on the Huntington, WV campus of Marshall University. Giorgio Agamben is a contemporary political philosopher whose scholarship has had a lasting impact on a wide variety of fields, from political theory to classics and anthropology. The conference is being organized by three Marshall University faculty: Professor Robin Conley Riner (Anthropology), Professor Christina Franzen (Classics), and Professor Jeffrey Powell (Philosophy). As is suggested by the conference title and its organizers, it will be an inherently interdisciplinary affair, drawing from the various interlocutors with whom Agamben has engaged.

Abstract submissions should be no longer than 250 words and are due via email to conleyr@marshall.edu by March 16, 2020. Presenters will have an hour each for presentation and discussion. Abstracts will be accepted from undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.

Keynote speakers

  • Dr. Kevin Attell, Cornell University, English
  • Dr. Thomas Biggs, University of Georgia, Classics

Contact

Robin Riner

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Marshall University

One John Marshall Drive

Huntington, WV 25701

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 02/25/2020 - 3:16pm by Erik Shell.

Apply to be Nominated for a Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Fellowship or Seed Grant

Once again, the Whiting Foundation has invited the Society for Classical Studies to nominate four scholars for the Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Fellowships and Seed grants. SCS will be nominating two scholars selected last academic year, who have elected to use their nominations in this year’s application cycle. We are also issuing an open call for applications from which the Committee on Public Information and Media Relations will select two additional nominees.

Below you can read more about the fellowships and seed grants, and find guidelines for applying to SCS to be a nominee.

About the Whiting Public Engagement Programs:

These programs aim to celebrate and empower early-career humanities faculty who undertake ambitious, usually deeply collaborative projects to infuse the depth, historical richness, and nuance of the humanities into public life. The two programs are:

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 02/24/2020 - 9:51am by Helen Cullyer.

(Submitted by Mark Possanza)

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 02/19/2020 - 8:56am by Erik Shell.
Bellum ex altera parte: Social Status, Gender and Ethnicity in Ancient Warfare
(21st UNISA Classics Colloquium)
 
We are pleased to announce our first call for papers, inviting abstracts for the annual Unisa Classics Colloquium, to be held in Pretoria from 15 to 18 October 2020.
 
Ancient artists and writers focused heavily on the role of elite male citizens in their representations of warfare in the ancient world, and this was for the most part also the focus of scholarship on warfare up to the mid-20th century.  But an interest in ideologically excluded groups, often called the ‘other’ or the ‘subaltern’ in scholarship, gained ground in the second half of the 20th century, and in the last decade or two the subject of war itself is now being examined for information on groups that were not at the top of the social hierarchy (although from the 8th century BC to the 5th century CE the composition of these groups was certainly subject to fluctuation). Our theme this year therefore focuses on those who populated these categories within the context of warfare in the ancient world.
 
View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 02/19/2020 - 8:54am by Erik Shell.

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML)

Saint John’s University
Collegeville, Minnesota  56321

Heckman Stipends, made possible by the A.A. Heckman Endowed Fund, are awarded semi-annually. Up to 10 stipends in amounts up to $2,000 are available each year. Funds may be applied toward travel to and from Collegeville, housing and meals at Saint John’s University, and costs related to duplication of HMML’s microfilm or digital resources (up to $250). The Stipend may be supplemented by other sources of funding but may not be held simultaneously with another HMML Stipend or Fellowship. Holders of the Stipend must wait at least two years before applying again.

The program is specifically intended to help scholars who have not yet established themselves professionally and whose research cannot progress satisfactorily without consulting materials to be found in the collections of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library.

Applications:
Applications must be submitted by March 15 for residencies between July and December of the same year, or by October 15 for residencies between January and June of the following year.

Applicants are asked to provide:

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 02/19/2020 - 8:51am by Erik Shell.

Call for Abstracts: The 2020 meeting of the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies in Athens, Greece (June 10-14, 2020), held in conjunction with the American College of Greece.

The International Society for Neoplatonic Studies (ISNS) invites submissions of abstracts for the 2020 meeting in Athens, Greece (June 10-14, 2020).This year’s panels embrace a wide range of themes and topics in the Platonic tradition, spanning from antiquity to the modern period.

People may present in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, or Greek. Speakers presenting in a language other than English are encouraged to give printed copies of their papers.

All abstracts are due by February 24, 2020. Please submit abstracts (a maximum of one page) directly to the panel organizers’ emails, as listed on the official call for abstracts: https://www.isns.us/2020PanelsforAthensConference.pdf. Those presenting must be ISNS members before the meeting.

The ISNS also will be offering travel grants for students and early career scholars to attend this year’s meeting. More information about these awards can be found here: https://preview.tinyurl.com/ISNSTravelGrant.

For more information please visit the ISNS website: https://www.isns.us/.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 02/18/2020 - 11:23am by Erik Shell.

Judith Peller Hallett is Professor of Classics and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Emerita at the University of Maryland, College Park. Judy was born in Chicago, grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and earned her B.A. in Latin from Wellesley College in 1966. She received her M.A. in 1967 and her Ph.D. in Classical Philology in 1971, both from Harvard University. Her research focuses on women, the family, and sexuality in ancient Greece and Rome, particularly in Latin literature. She is also an expert on Classical education and reception in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her publications include Fathers and Daughters in Roman Society: Women and the Elite Family (1984) and a special edition of the journal The Classical World, entitled “Six North American Women Classicists,” with William M. Calder III (1996-1997). A lifelong feminist, she has edited or contributed to numerous collections that focus on women in the ancient world and in the discipline of Classics, such as Roman Sexualities (1997), the Blackwell Companion to Women in the Ancient World (2012), and Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly (2016).

CC: How did you come to Classics?

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 02/18/2020 - 6:10am by Claire Catenaccio.

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