You have been kind enough to say ('From the Editor's Disk,' Vol. 2, No. 5, 1991, p. 329) that Professor P.J. Parsons' Oxford Inaugural Lecture and my Valedictory Lecture 'would be interesting to see in print'. My lecture has appeared or will soon appear in a collection of essays names after it, Greek in a Cold Climate, to be published in the United States by Barnes and Noble. Readers will be able to judge whether it is, as the writer whom you quote called it, 'a bitter philippic'.
In the same number of your very useful journal (p. 327), W.M. Calder III informs us that the book he is reviewing 'documents the utter incompetence of the doctoral program' at Oxford. I do not think we have a 'doctoral program', that is at once our weakness and our strength, but some of our doctoral theses are not too bad. 'It took a generation', Professor Calder adds, 'for Fraenkel even to change Oxford dilettantism'. Even before Fraenkel became Professor in 1935, our faculty in Oxford included J.D. Beazley, E. Lobel and J.D. Denniston.
I am, sir, Yours, etc.
To All Classicists:
I am circulating this message on behalf of a classics operation that I believe deserves the encouragement and support of classicists everywhere.
The Institute for the History of Ancient Civilizations (IHAC) was established in 1984 at Northeast Normal University in Changchun, Jilin Province, People's Republic of China. While it is largely concerned with Assyriology, Egyptology, and other ancient eastern studies, IHAC is also the only place in all of China where Latin and Greek are being systematically taught today. The students of Classics (or "Western Classics" as they are naturally known in China) at IHAC are a select group from all over the country; they number about twenty five, both undergraduate and graduate. The more advanced students teach the beginners; for the higher level of instruction IHAC has been largely dependent on visitors from abroad. IHAC has also established a scholarly journal, The Journal of Ancient Civilizations, which appears to me to merit wide circulation, and not merely as a gesture. A fascinating account of IHAC by William Brashear can be found in Classical Journal 86 (1990), 73-78. A briefer report, also by Professor Brashear, appeared in the APA Newsletter for June 1991.
IHAC has some degree of academic relationship with the Oriental Institute of Chicago, the University of Michigan, Oxford, Cambridge, and other institutions. Partly through the largesse of foreign friends, they have begun to acquire a respectable working library. They have a good assortment of Loebs, both Greek and Latin, the Kleine Pauly, and quite a few standard editions, dictionaries, reference works, and collections of fragments. Only a very few journals. Miscellaneous, or perhaps haphazard, would perhaps be a fair description of the library at present.
My visit to IHAC turned into one of the high points of a recent trip to China. I was there to accompany my wife, Naomi B. Pascal, Editor in Chief of the University of Washington Press, who was on a Unesco mission concerning scholarly publishing. When I dropped in at IHAC for what I expected to be a mere courtesy call, I was immediately invited to give several lectures. It was very clearly an offer I could not refuse. I chose for my subject medieval Latin poetry. I had my copy of the Oxford Book of Medieval Latin Verse along (as ever!), so I was able to provide texts of the Dies Irae and of the Confession of the Archpoet. (IHAC is reasonably well equipped with such things as copying machines and word processors.) Given the short notice and the limited opportunity for preparation, my presentations of course had something of an impromptu character, but they were received with gratifying courtesy and apparent enthusiasm. Rarely have I gotten greater pleasure or satisfaction from lecturing. The subject was absolutely new to the students. It would make me particularly happy to find out some day that I may claim to have had a role in sparking an interest in medieval Latin in China! I was introduced by Professor Lin Zhi Chun, a scholar in his eighties for whom the word venerable might well have been invented. The most recent issue of IHAC's Journal of Ancient Civilizations (vol. 5, 1990) is dedicated to him, and includes the astonishing list of his publications. He has published on both Homer and Confucius, among many others. I think it is impossible for us even to imagine the hardships he must have experienced in pursuing his studies in recent decades. I was particularly favorably impressed by three graduate students, two men and a woman, who had recently collaborated on the first translation of Livy (Book I) into Chinese. They were serious and attentive, and they asked intelligent and hard questions. Naturally, they make no secret of the fact that they are ravenous to study abroad, and to this end they are willing to grasp at straws. The present regime places obstacles in the way of such students before they can even become eligible to apply, but nothing will stop them.
The occasion was by no means altogether serious. I was delighted by the brio with which the Chinese students joined me in singing stanzas of the Confession to the tunes of "Good King Wenceslas" and "Yankee Doodle," both of which are (more or less) in the Goliardic meter, and evidently thoroughly familiar in China.
Unfortunately, since she was away, I did not get to meet Dr. Yang Zhi, an Assyriologist (Ph.D., University of Chicago) who runs the day-to-day operation of IHAC. By all accounts she is a dynamo and a world-class winner. Her address: Dr. Yang Zhi / Vice Director, IHAC / Guest House / Northeast Normal University / Changchun, Jilin Province / PRC. She is the one to contact on all matters of business relating to IHAC. Any classicist who can promote the welfare of IHAC -- by gifts of books, services, or in any way -- will be, in my opinion, performing a professional service of a high order.
University of Washington
Ladies and gentlemen,
Although I still enjoy reading the e-version of BMCR, I feel compelled to state that not all of the reviewers are qualified. Lee T. Pearcy (BMCR 2.5), for instance, reviewing Wesley D. Smith's edition of Hippocrates. Pseudepigraphic Writings, says: "S. is the first since Littre (1861) and Putzger (1914) to conduct a fresh examination of the manuscript tradition of these ... writings." Apparently he does not know the edition of Dimitrios Th. Sakalis: Ippokratous Epistolai. Ekdosi kritiki kai ermeneutiki, Ioannina 1989 (cf. L'année philologique LX (1989), no. 2391). Sakalis has 296 pages of prolegomena; if that is no "fresh examination of the manuscript tradition", I do not know what else could be so called.
Might it be that the dictum Graeca sunt, non leguntur is still valid, but now with regard to modern Graeca?