Thursday, February 19, 2015


A Played Out Field

Dorrit Hoffleit, Misfortunes as Blessings in Disguise: The Story of My Life (Cambridge: American Association of Variable Star Observers, 2002), p. 127 (on her brother Herbert Hoffleit):
My brother had always wanted to live to a ripe old age. As Harvard at commencement always honored the oldest graduate who came to reunion, Herbert hoped to be the one so honored—simply for old-age flexibility. Instead, his last year, at age 76, he spent in a wheel chair and with too diminished eyesight to continue reading. And nobody seemed to be able to read his classics with the proper accents, certainly not I when I last visited him. With all the promise of scholarship he showed as a young man, I am aware of hardly half a dozen publications by him; his last was one of the Loeb classical series, a translation with annotations of Plutarch's Moralia, Vol. 8, Books IV-VI. His colleagues and friends honored his memory at a heart warming service at UCLA soon after his death. I could not help but think that his apparent low productivity over the years depended upon the fact that he had specialized in a field that was largely played out; hardly anything new was left to write about, whereas mine was a rapidly developing field with something new for anyone of any ability. Classicists were there to keep alive a subject of great importance for the understanding of the correct usage of our own language, the use of whose parts of speech and grammar seem to be steadily deteriorating.
The entry on Herbert Hoffleit (by Mortimer Chambers) in Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists, ed. Ward W. Briggs, Jr. (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994), pp. 286-287, lists the following publications:
"An Un-Platonic Theory of Evil in Plato," AJP 58 (1937) 45-58; "A Latin Medical Manuscript," Studies Rand, 133-41; Epigrammata: Greek Inscriptions in Verse from the Beginnings to the Persian Wars, with Paul Friedländer (Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1948); Plutarch, Moralia Vol. VIII Table-Talk, Books IV-VI (trans.) (Books I-III by P.A. Clement), LCL (Cambridge & London, 1969).
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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