d.m. Tomas Hagg

The Google translate version of the obituary from a Universitetet i Bergen press release  follows (it’s pretty reasonable) … the original can be accessed at the link at the end:
With Tomas Häggs (1938-2011) died on 11 August is the classical philology in Scandinavia and the historical-philosophical faculty at UIB lost a generation’s most prominent and famous scientists.

He became an international household name soon after accession to the Chair of Classical Philology at the UIB in 1977 thanks to his brilliant book on the ancient novel – a research area which just then began to attract interest after living in the shadow of the more “classic “Greek and Roman literature as’ the unpopular popular literature” – one of many lucky Häggs formulations.

The success he followed up with an incredible performance in Byzantine literature, ancient Greek culture from the periphery to the south of Egypt, in Nubia, and with considerable work in the Late Antique Greek literature, pagan and Christian, and a series of translations and other dissemination work. Another high point he reached in 2003 with The Virgin and her Lover (2003) who presented a sensational discovery: the ancient Greek novel of Parthenope known from the publicity and individual fragments were Hägg recovered in a medieval Persian accessories. Not only had he made a discovery, but typical of him, he followed it up with a longstanding relationship with a iranolog (Bo Utas) which resulted in the total publishing, translation and commentary on this text walk from the ancient eastern Mediterranean to medieval Persia. Another research culmination, we actually still waiting for the script for a comprehensive presentation of the biography genre in antiquity that came a few months ago and who will appear at Cambridge University Press.

How all these interests were linked, one can read the fascinating intellectual “autobiography” as Hägg wrote as an introduction to a large collection of articles from 2004: Parthenope – Selected Studies in Ancient Greek Fiction (1969-2004).

All this will be available to interested readers and testify Häggs great influence on the interpretation, discussion and learning about these ancient literary topics.

In addition, you must arrange his work in Classical Studies for 32 years at the UIB (1977-2009) which was only visible to those around him – an act that has drawn deep traces of numerous students and colleagues within and outside the profession. Tomas Hägg possessed a unique empathy. This ability to take an interest in real for others and the interests of others hung undoubtedly with his ability to analyze literature from a distant culture – it was actually in its time a radical break with the Swedish classical philology to focus on the literary aspects of the texts instead the linguistic and historical. The environment in Bergen and Norway came to enjoy the great good to the inclusive, friendly, but also demanding attitude Hägg always exhibited with tireless energy. He was more than 30 years, the Bergen academia soul, heart and spine – which is uncontroversial to say directly because no one was jealous of him and his high academic status: he was much too modest and generous. It is certainly not a bold generalization – based on signed experience – to say that most left his office with both invaluable specific technical response and with its priorities very clearly.

As one example of his way to work may include informal seminars Wednesday Hägg organized from 90-years and above (and which still exists today). The Swedish model he wanted to graduate students, PhD students and colleagues could have an interdisciplinary forum where they test ideas for a slightly larger audience than just the supervisor / colleague. This was no easy fomel to transfer from the combative Swedish (and partially in Danish) professional forums for the somewhat more silent western ones. There were allocated two hours for the session, and often it happened that the presentation took 10-15 minutes and then no one dared say anything. This colleague often thought “How is he going to fill the whole two hours?”. Imperceptibly, he succeeded in boosting people with little comments about how to structure a chapter, the balance should be between retelling and analyzing ancient literature, etc. We colleagues took many mental notes.

In all forums – international or Nordic research groups, administrative bodies, excursions, etc. – were Hägg born leader through the knowledge, modesty, authority and confidence that shone out of him. Missing is very large.

Lars Boje Mortensen, professor of Latin at UIB 1992-2007 Professor II at Centre for Medieval Studies 2007-12

Circumundique ~ September 8, 2011

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