Edwin L. Brown (1929-2017) was born in Asheville, NC, where he graduated from the Asheville School in 1946. He then attended Haverford College, where he received his BA in 1950 with a major in Archaeology and a minor in Classical Languages. He spent the next year (1950-51) at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens as a Fulbright Scholar. After his year in Athens, he provided alternative service as a conscientious objector, working with the Mennonites in West Virginia and Chicago, and then returned to Greece in 1953-54 to work with the World Council of Churches assisting with refugee resettlement. He next entered the graduate program at Princeton and received his PhD in 1961 with a dissertation on the Eclogues and Georgics of Vergil. In that year he began teaching for the Department of Classics at UNC-Chapel Hill, initially as an instructor, and then rising through the ranks from Assistant Professor to full Professor. After his retirement in 1999, he maintained an active interest in the Department for the rest of his life, establishing the Henry and Sally Immerwahr Graduate Student Excellence Fund in 2016 in honor of his dear friends and former colleagues.
After publishing his revised dissertation as a monograph in 1963 (Numeri Vergiliani: Studies in Eclogues and Georgics, Collection Latomus 63), Brown’s scholarly interests ranged widely. In the early ‘70s he published a series of articles on the imagery of Greek vases, including “Achilles and Deidamia on the Portland Vase,” AJA 76 (1972) 379-92 and “Cleon Caricatured on a Corinthian Cup,” JHS 94 (1974) 166-70. His later research was marked by a keen interest in the connections between ancient Anatolian civilization and archaic Greek culture and by three overlapping sets of concerns. He explored the origins and significance of names in a series of articles ranging from “The Origin of the Constellation Named Cynosura,” Orientalia 50 (1981) 384-402 to “Sappho the ‘Numinous’,” ICS 16 (1991) 59-63. He was particularly interested in the names and natures of the Greek gods: “The Divine Name ‘Pan’,” TAPA 107 (1977) 57-61; “The Lycidas of Theocritus’ Idyll VII,” HSCP 85 (1981) 59-100, arguing that Lycidas is Pan; “In Search of Anatolian Apollo,” in Anne Proctor Chapin ed., Charis: Essays in Honor of Sara A. Immerwahr (Hesperia Supplement 33) 243-57. His third ongoing area of interest was in the decipherment and reading of Linear A, which he pursued through an exploration of its possible affinities with Luvian: “Traces of Luwian Dialect in Cretan Script and Toponym,” SMEA 28 (1990) 225-37; “The Linear A Signary: Tokens of Luvian Dialect in Bronze Age Crete,” Minos 27-28 (1992-93) 25-54; “Linear A on Trojan Spindlewhorls, Luvian-Based wanax at Cnossus,” in Gareth L. Schmeling and Jon D. Mikalson, eds., “Qui miscuit utile dulci:” Festschrift Essays for Paul Lachlan MacKendrick (Bolchazy-Carducci 1998) 51-68. At the same time, he maintained his interest in archaeological research, regularly visiting Donald Haggis’ field project at Azoria, Crete, well after his retirement.
Professor Brown was also a dedicated teacher and popular as a graduate mentor. In his time in the Department he supervised eleven MA theses and 11 PhD dissertations. Among his doctoral students are Mark Possanza, Chico Zimmerman, Charles Platter, and Eric Dugdale.
In addition to his love of classical studies, Brown was a passionate advocate for social justice. He worked tirelessly and courageously throughout his life to promote justice, peace, and equal rights, from the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War in the ‘60s to support for Palestinian rights in the ‘90s and beyond.