Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Mercifully Short

Mortimer Chambers, "Grant, John Ratcliffe," in Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists, ed. Ward W. Briggs, Jr. (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994), pp. 229-230 (at 230):
Grant's dissertation closed a long Harvard tradition by being the last ever written in Latin; he always spoke in favor of this custom because it tended to keep dissertations mercifully short.
The dissertation was De decretis Atticis quae e memoria scriptorum veterum tradita sunt. Chambers gives the date of the dissertation as 1948, and it is summarized in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 58/59 (1948) 223-226. But was the date really 1948? See the citation in Martin Ostwald, "The Athenian Legislation against Tyranny and Subversion," Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association (1955) 103-128 (at 111, note 40): "diss. Harvard 1946; typewritten". According to the Harvard Library, the date was 1947. The dissertation wasn't all that short: Ostwald cites pp. 163-65.

Thanks to Michael Hendry, who draws my attention to J.A. Willis, "The 'Silvae' of Statius and Their Editors," Phoenix 20.4 (Winter 1966) 305-324 (at 323):
That all doctoral dissertations should be written in Latin, and failed for bad Latin (e.g., magistro meo, qui studiis meis semper favuit, which I have seen on a printed title-page), seems to me another very simple step which might help to halt the decay. At the same time it would tend to lessen the length of theses, which would again be an advantage.

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