MacArthur Fellowships

2001-10-24

Dirk Obbink, one of my old classics professors at Columbia (well, actually he was pretty young at the time) has been awarded a MacArthur fellowship. Though I remember him mainly for a seminar on Aristotle's Poetics, he does amazing work on papyri, specifically on the burnt papyrus scrolls found in the ruins of Herculaneum (the lesser-known town destroyed in the same eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried Pompei). Many of these papyri must have come from the library of a wealthy Epicurean, since Dirk and his colleagues have recovered a number of works by the Epicurean philosopher-poet Philodemus. This painstaking work is also extremely valuable, since we have so few original texts from Epicurus himself. (Other MacArthur Fellowship winners this year include pianist Stephen Hough, whom I know mainly for his duets with cellist Steven Isserlis, and composer Bright Sheng.)


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