d.m. Colin Wells (obituary)

This is Susan Treggiari’s obituary of Dr. Wells as it appeared in the Canadian Classical Bulletin (used with permission):

Colin Wells died on 11 March, at Bangor in North Wales, with his family around him, after a short illness. He was born on 15 November 1933. After Nottingham High School, where he was very well taught, he went up to Oriel College, Oxford, to read Lit. Hum. After taking Honour Moderations, he interrupted his studies in order to do his military service, during which he was stationed in Egypt and enjoyed early-morning riding in the desert. Returning to Oxford, he completed his Greats work. At this stage, he was especially interested in philosophy. But he nearly opted for a military career. Instead he began his teaching at Beaumont, an appropriate choice as he had become a Roman Catholic at 21. In 1960 he married Kate Hughes, daughter of the novelist Richard Hughes. He was asked by Fr. Etienne Gareau O. M. I. to accept an appointment at the University of Ottawa. After two years’ teaching and the birth of a son, Christopher, Kate and Colin returned to England so that he could start a doctorate in Roman Archaeology under the supervision of Ian Richmond. The seed for his work on the frontiers under Augustus was in an essay he had written as an undergraduate for P. A. Brunt, his tutor, who was a major influence. Another son, Dominic, was born during their two-year stay in England.
Colin served the University of Ottawa with energy, enthusiasm and vision. He was one of the pioneers of an interdisciplinary Classical Civilisation course. He served as chairman of the Department of Classical Studies / Département des Etudes anciennes (overseeing a period of growth) and as Vice-Dean and was secretary to an important committee which reviewed the structures of the university. Concurrently he was editing Echos du monde classique / Classical News & Views. At the same time, he was active in research and participation in learned societies. The Wells house in New Edinburgh was a centre of hospitality for classicists and other guests from all over the world. After over a quarter of a century, he regretfully left Ottawa in 1987 to take up a new and exciting post in Texas as Distinguished Professor at Trinity University, San Antonio. Here, with a new culture to explore, an office big enough for most of his books on Roman history and archaeology and a strikingly elegant house designed for entertaining, he and Kate entered upon a new period of their lives, making new friends while maintaining old contacts. Teaching continued to fascinate and pre-occupy him until he was seventy. At that point, they came back to their house in Oxford, before moving definitively to a house in Normandy, which offered a barn which could become a library. He had always loved France.

An able administrator, Colin served many organisations in the course of his career: the AAH, AIA, APA, CAC, Rei Cretariae Romanae Fautores, the Limes Congresses (he only missed one congress) and others. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and Visiting Professor at Berkeley. He was Visiting Fellow at Brasenose (1973-4) and ever after, as a member of Common Room, enjoyed the hospitality and communal life of the college.

The German Policy of Augustus, the fruit of his work on frontiers, came out in 1972. It was followed by the exceptional introduction, The Roman Empire (1984), which has delighted and stimulated undergraduates ever since. An impressive production of articles in history and archaeology went on all the time, the rhythm accelerated recently, as the history and archaeology of northern France seized his attention. From 1976, initially with the late Edith Wightman, Colin was directing the Canadian team excavating in Carthage, an involvement which continued for over twenty years. His lectures on the dig, delivered in his inimitable style, will be long remembered. He was happily engaged in writing a short history of the Roman army and had just finished the first chapter. A book on the hellenistic period was in view.

A man of manifold interests and warm sympathies, Colin Wells made the most of his exceptionally full life up to the end. He will leave a big gap in the many circles to which he belonged.

All of us offer our sympathy to his wife, sons, grandsons and the whole family.

The funeral will be held on 18 March and there will be a memorial service in July.

Elsewhere:

23,000 Years B.P. Stone Wall from Thessaly

A bit out of the period of our purview, but of interest for those first classes of Classical Civ:

The oldest stone wall in Greece, which has stood at the entrance of a cave in Thessaly for the last 23,000 years, has been discovered by palaeontologists, the ministry of culture said Monday.The age of the find, determined by an optical dating test, singles it out as “probably one of the oldest in the world”, according to a ministry press release.
“The dating matches the coldest period of the most recent ice age, indicating that the cavern’s paleolithic inhabitants built it to protect themselves from the cold”, said the ministry.
The wall blocked two-thirds of the entrance to the cave, located close to Kalambaka, itself near the popular tourist area and monastic centre of Meteora in central Greece. Greek palaeontologists have been excavating the site for the last 25 years.

More coverage:

d.m. Gavin Townend

From the Northern Echo:

FORMER colleagues will join family and friends at Durham Cathedral for the funeral of a respected classics academic next week.Professor Gavin Townend died following a recent illness at Hallgarth Nursing Home, in Durham City, on Saturday, aged 90.

A widower, he survived his wife, Elspeth, by ten years.Their daughter, Julia, who is in social work, lives in Bristol.Following his wife’s death, Prof Townend formed a relationship with partner Elizabeth Still, with whom he lived until her death in 2007.

Born in Surrey in September 1919, he was educated at Haileybury School and at Merton College, Oxford University.Following the war, he taught at Liverpool University from 1946-66, after which he came to Durham as Professor of Latin for the last 18 years of his working life, up to retirement in 1984.He remained active in the classics field, publishing three books and several articles.Prof Townend was, primarily, an expert in Latin, Latin history and Latin historians.Former colleague, retired ancient historian, Professor PJ (Peter) Rhodes, said: “We like to think we’re the next best classics department after Oxford and Cambridge, and he certainly played his part in that.”

Macedonian Coin Hoard

From Balkan Travellers:

Around 20 coins with the image of the father of Alexander the Great, Philip II of Macedon, and “other ancient Macedonian rulers” were found by archaeologists during excavations along the road between the south-western Macedonian towns of Ohrid and Struga, national media reported today.In addition to the coins, a space with around 1,000 arrows was also discovered, Director of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office Pasko Kuzman told the Alsat-M television station.The archaeological find was made in the vicinity of the Cyclops Fortress, which – according to Kuzman, dates to the 358 BC when Philip II passed through the area with his army. The fortress, he added, was a strategic military position for the ruler’s army.Although Philip II of Macedon’s biggest claim to historical claim is perhaps his fathering of Alexander the Great, the ancient Greek personage 382 – 336 BC was a great ruler and military strategist in his own right, who largely realised his expansionist vision.

via Balkan Travellers – Macedonian Archaeologists Discover Ancient Coins near Ohrid.

I’m not clear whether the photo accompanying the original article depicts one of the coins found or not …

CONF: Laughter in the Library

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the folks mentioned in the quoted text, not to rogueclassicism!):

Laughter in the Library: a colloquium on Old Comedy for Penny Bulloch

Ioannou Classics Centre, Oxford

Saturday 5th June 2010

10.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

To mark the retirement of Penny Bulloch and her contribution as Fellow Librarian at Balliol College,

Oxford, and earlier in Cambridge, and as a mainstay of all things Aristophanic and Old Comic in

the Classics Faculty of Oxford University, there will be a day of papers on Old Comedy in her

honour by friends, colleagues, and former students.

Speakers:

Edith Hall (RHUL): “The Aesopic in Old Comedy”

Angus Bowie (Queen’s, Oxford): narratology of space in Old Comedy (title TBC)

Matthew Wright (Exeter University): “Pea Soup and Old Jokes”

Peter Brown (Trinity, Oxford): Walter Braunfels’ opera Die Vögel (title TBC)

Matthew Leigh (St Anne’s, Oxford): topic TBC

All are welcome and there will be no fee for attendance, though for the purposes of planning it

would be very much appreciated if you could let the organizers know that you plan to come by

Friday 21st May. Tea and coffee will be served, and a small reception held afterwards. There will

also be an optional buffet lunch at a cost of £6. Please let the organizers know if you would like

lunch, by the same date, and make cheques payable to Dr. R.W. Cowan.

Any enquiries may be addresses to Bob Cowan (bob.cowan AT balliol.ox.ac.uk) or Adrian Kelly

(adrian.kelly AT balliol.ox.ac.uk).

Trinity College’s Classics Threatened

From the Tripod:

Trinity College’s Classics Department is in danger of being dissolved and replaced as an interdisciplinary program.

This process involves numerous steps, the first of which is the notification of Department Chair and Associate Professor of Classics Dr. Martha Risser by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC).

The EPC consists of various members of the Trinity Faculty, including the Dean of the Faculty, who serves as the chair but does not vote. There also are six elected tenured members of the faculty on the EPC, who must have been at Trinity for at least five years. These six members serve three-year, staggered terms on the EPC, and none of the members may serve consecutive terms.

There is at least one, but no more than three, representatives from the following departments: the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities/arts. The EPC also cannot have more than one member from any one department.

Now that the EPC has delivered a notification of its thoughts to Risser, a series of rigid steps will follow. Risser will first have to present a statement to the EPC, which she says “will vote on whether or not to bring a motion to the faculty, requesting permission to conduct an inquiry into the possibility of discontinuing the Classics Department and organizing an interdisciplinary program in its place.”

If the committee decides to bring a motion to the faculty, they will do so and wait for the faculty to vote. If the motion is approved, the EPC will conduct an inquiry and decide whether or not it is necessary to discontinue the Classics department. If they decide in the affirmative, they will allow the faculty to vote on the motion. If that motion is also passed than the ultimate decision lies with President James F. Jones, Jr.

“The questions concerning the role of a traditional classics department have been around for a great many years,” said Jones, “Several different solutions have been tried: from the Five-College Consortium model in Massachusetts to the IT classics network in the South sponsored by the Mellon Foundation. We here are trying to think of ways to increase the role of classics by extending traditional language (Greek and Latin) and literature offerings to classics studies. Some may wish for days of yesteryear where, at Trinity and elsewhere, Latin and Greek were required. But those days are never going to return, however much we might pine for them. The Dean is trying to think, with senior faculty here, of ways to extend our offerings rather than to have to justify tiny-enrolled courses for a very few.”

Jones also was sure to point out that his opinion was just one of many.

“I should state my own prejudices. I was a student at a military academy in the South where, if one were in the upper form, one had to read all the way through Ovid, Cicero, Livy, and Virgil. If I live long enough, I hope to end my career where I first started it: teaching Caesar, Cicero, Ovid, and Virgil in the morning and coaching soccer in the afternoon.”

The Classics Department was recently looked at by external reviewers who came to Trinity last spring and argued against the replacing of the department with a program. According to Risser, they recommended both of the vacant tenure-track positions be returned to the Classics Department and filled as soon as possible.

Risser also noted that the only NESCAC school without a Classics Department is Bates, where an interdisciplinary program is anchored by three tenured professors who specialize in Greek and Roman literature.

“Some have expressed concern about enrollments,” said Risser, “While it is true that some of our classes (e.g. Advanced Greek) are consistently small, others (e.g. Mythology, Ancient Warfare, Ancient Athletics) are large. Our average enrollments are equivalent to those of other departments.”

When asked about her own thoughts on the possible changes to the Classics Department, Risser expressed her uncertainty of the future.

“I really do not know what will happen, but I hope Classics will always be valued at Trinity. Classics has a long tradition of being an interdisciplinary field in which we examine the societies, cultures, values, laws, arts and ideas that form the core of the world in which we live. Through studying the ancient Greeks and Romans, our students become acquainted with the cultures that are at the very foundation of Modern Western and Middle Eastern civilizations, and gain understanding of the rich classical tradition that is still present in our lives today.”

A group in support of keeping the Classics Department has been created on Facebook by Trinity alumnus James Sickinger ’86, who majored in Classics while at the College. According to the Web site, the group is “intended to serve as a focal point for fostering support for the Classics Department at Trinity College, which is threatened with elimination. It will serve as a forum to provide information and foster communication.” At the time of press, the group had 340 members.

via College’s Classics Department Faces Possible Changes in Future – News.

Facebook seems to be blocked where I am right now; I’ll post the site later or, if some intrepid soul has access, please post it in the comments.