Know Thyself

Xavier 2008 Rettig Lecturer is no typical Classicist | October 3, 2008


Peter Green, PhD is one of the most respected classicists in the profession and has a worldwide reputation for excellence in the field.  On November 1, 2008 at 4:00 pm in the Conaton Board Room of Schmidt Hall, he will speak on "Possession and Pneuma: The Essential Nature of the Delphic Oracle." The lecture is free and open to the public.
Green is not the stereotypical classicist. He has a healthy, youthful sense of humor. As an only child he was so bored, he taught himself to read at the age of 3. In a 2003 interview with Cornell College in Iowa, he said, “I retired on the blue carpet under the grand piano with a stack of books, and in a sense I've never come out since. I'd read all of Tennyson's Idylls of the King by the time I was six. Didn't understand half of it, but the noise was magical.”
He believes the study of classics can help society solve almost anything to do with politics, since the classics are deeply rooted in the psychology of power. Green finds the ancient world unbelievably fascinating: so like today in politics, literature, art, and so different in sex, social morés, such as slavery and religion. He says that the ancient world found such different solutions for the same big problems we face today.
Green obtained his PhD in Classics from Cambridge University in1954. After a decade as a London littérateur, he emigrated to Greece with his family in 1963, working as a writer and professional translator. He also returned to classics, teaching at College Year in Athens, and publishing works on the Persian Wars, the Sicilian Expedition, and Alexander. In 1971 he was invited as a professor to the University of Texas at Austin, and stayed until 1997, when he went emeritus and joined his wife Carin, a professor (and currently chair) of Classics at the University of Iowa. His latest book is a short history of the Hellenistic Age, his special period.