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Berthe Marie Marti (1904-1995)
Berthe Marie Marti (1904-1995)

Following undergraduate studies at the University of Lausanne, Berthe Marie Marti, a native of Lausanne, Switzerland, went to Bryn Mawr College as a graduate student in 1925. Marti wrote her dissertation with Lily Ross Taylor, and received her Ph.D. in 1934. She began teaching in 1930 and remained at Bryn Mawr until 1963. Marti taught classical and medieval Latin at Bryn Mawr College, as an instructor in Latin and French (1930-1934), assistant professor of Latin (1935-1943), associate professor (1943-1951), and professor (1951-1963). She moved to Chapel Hill in 1963, and taught in the department as professor of classical and medieval Latin from 1963 until her retirement in 1976. For most of this period, she spent each fall in Rome, working on various research projects in the libraries of the American Academy in Rome and the Vatican, and then taught at Chapel Hill in the spring of the year.

Among her numerous awards and distinctions: Rome Prize to the American Academy in Rome, 1944-1945; Fulbright Research Grant in Italy, 1946; Guggenheim Fellowship, 1954-1955; Martin Lectures (“Imitation and Originality in the Latin Epic of the Silver Age”), Oberlin College, 1972-73; elected Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, 1977.

Marti published two books, Arnulph of Orleans: Glosule super Lucanum (Rome 1958), and The Spanish College at Bologna in the Fourteenth Century (Philadelphia 1966), as well as numerous articles and reviews. Among her principal articles are “Arnulf and the Faits des Romans,” Modern Language Quarterly 2 (1941) 3-23; “The Meaning of the Pharsalia,” American Journal of Philology 66 (1945) 352-376; “Seneca’s Tragedies: A New Interpretation,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 76 (1945) 216-45; “Vacca in Lucanum,” Speculum 25 (1950) 198-214; “Lucan’s Invocation to Nero in the Light of the Medieval Commentaries,” Quadrivium 1 (1956) 1-11; “1372: The Spanish College versus the Executors of Cardinal Albornoz’s Testament,” Studia Albornotiana 12 (1972) (= El Cardinal Albornoz y el Colegio de España) 93-129.

By her students, both undergraduate and graduate, Marti was known as a lively, exciting, and demanding teacher. She expected her students to read both carefully and widely (once terrifying a graduate class in Livy by asking them to read all of the fragments of the Roman annalists in their spare time) and to pay attention to the meanings of words, syntax, literary qualities, and historical questions in every text they read. Exceptionally generous with her time in assisting and supporting her students, she took special delight in introducing young people to the city of Rome and to the scholars, both Italian and American, who passed through the American Academy in Rome.

Through a bequest, Marti established the Berthe M. Marti Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome to enable graduate students from Bryn Mawr College and UNC to study and carry out research in Rome in the fields of early, classical, and medieval Latin, Latin palaeography, Latin textual criticism, or some combination thereof. The fellowship, now established as an Affiliated Fellowship of the American Academy in Rome, was first held by Eric Hutchinson of Bryn Mawr College in 2005-2006.

Cf. also the Wikipedia entry for Berthe Marti, from which much of this information is taken.