Contributed by Hanna M. Roisman:
Cecelia Anne Eaton Luschnig passed away on June 16, 2022 in Moscow, Idaho. A distinguished classical scholar, she is best known as an authority on Euripidean drama who for decades produced research noteworthy for its originality on the one hand and its open-mindedness on the other. Her many scholarly contributions in this area include: Tragic Aporia: A Study of Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis (Berwick, Vic.: Aureal Publications, 1988); Time Holds the Mirror: A Study of Knowledge in Euripides’ Hippolytus (Brill, 1988); The Gorgon’s Severed Head: Studies in Alcestis, Electra, and Phoenissae (Brill 1995); Granddaughter of the Sun: A Study of Euripides’ Medea (Brill 2007); Euripides’ Alcestis: A Commentary (with Hanna M. Roisman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2003); Euripides’ Electra: A Commentary (with Hanna M. Roisman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2011). She also published numerous articles in such top-flight journals as AJP, CJ, CW, Dioniso, Mnemosyne, Ramus and Scholi, as well as book chapters. Celia’s devotion to students is evident in her pedagogical publications. As early as 1978 she wrote Latin and literacy: an essay on how and why to revive Latin in the schools. Later she co-edited The Worlds of Roman Women: A Latin Reader (with A. R. Raia and J.L. Sebesta. Focus, 2005); Latin Letters; Reading Roman Correspondence (Illustrated by Dona Black. Focus, 2006). With Lance J. Luschnig she wrote Etyma: An Introduction to Vocabulary -Building from Latin & Greek (University Press of America, 1982); as well as Introduction to Ancient Greek: A Literary Approach (1975; 2 nd ed. revised by Celia and Deborah Mitchell Hackett 2007). Celia was also a prolific translator of plays by the three Greek tragedians: Aeschylus’ Persians, Seven against Thebes; Sophocles’ Ajax; Euripides’ Alcestis, Trojan Women, Ion, Electra, Phoenician Women, Suppliant Women, Bacchae, Iphigenia at Aulis, Iphigenia among the Tauri, Orestes, Fragments of Neophron’s Medea; as well as Herodas, Selected Mimes (I, IV, VI); (all published either by Hackett or Diotima, or both. She had finished translating Euripides’ Hippolytus three weeks before she died and was working on the introduction when she passed away. The clarity and accessibility of her translations combined with their smooth rhythmic flow have earned her many readers and frequent performances. Recently her translations of Euripides’ Alcestis, Iphigenia in Tauris, and Ion were used in the Out of Chaos Theatre partnering with the Center of Hellenic Studies and the Kosmos Society in their presentation of Reading Greek Tragedy Online. Celia was also a novelist, a photographer, and a poet. She wrote under the name of Bartleby der Schreiber (county fair exhibits) and Corva Corax (published on Facebook).
Celia was born on March 22, 1942 in New York City to Jimmy Eaton, a Top 40s song writer, and Olive Findlay Eaton. She graduated from the prestigious Hunter College High School, then an all-female bastion of academic excellence, earned her undergraduate degree in Classics from City College of New York and her PhD from the University of Cincinnati. While teaching at Ohio University, she met her future husband, writer/photographer Lance Luschnig at a rescue archaeological dig. As newlyweds they lived in Italy for three years while Celia wrote her dissertation on “The Logos-Ergon Conflict: A Study of Euripidean Tragedy” (submitted in 1972) and Lance taught English. They loved Sicily, the people, the culture, and the archaeology—especially the catacombs. In addition to the University of Ohio, Celia also taught at the University of Washington and the University of Idaho, from which she retired. I wrote two commentaries with Celia, one on Euripides’ Alcestis and one on Euripides’ Electra. I found in Celia a wonderful and careful scholar, and an easy- going and cheerful person, unbiased, patient, and utterly dedicated to knowledge. Any differences we may have had in the interpretation of the text paled in comparison to the deep love we shared for the work of Euripides (as well as aversion to driving). Celia was a consummate educator and an inspirational teacher, unrivalled in her instinct for where and why a student might need help with the Greek. It is no wonder that her students not only admired but also adored her. She leaves behind the kind of memories all teachers wish our students to have. Celia’s generosity and consideration for others were exemplary. When I was about to finish my graduate studies and was heading back to teach in Israel, I told her that I might face some trouble getting the Greek textbooks from abroad in time for my class. Imagine my surprise when I found upon my return 15 gratis copies of Celia’s An Introduction to Greek awaiting my students. Although Celia was shy and modest, she could be impressively quick to respond when the occasion warranted it, as a driver who almost hit her learned not all that long ago when she broke the hood of the car with her walking stick. I am sad beyond words, and I am sure many of you who knew Celia are as well!
-Hanna M. Roisman