Jim O’Hara named President-elect of the Vergilian Society

Jim O’Hara, George L. Paddison Professor of Latin at UNC, has been named President-elect of the Vergilian Society, and will serve in that position for a year before taking over as President for 2017-2019.

The Vergilian Society, founded in 1937 “to celebrate the ties of culture between Italy and America,” is devoted to the study of Roman poet Vergil and his world.  It sponsors conferences and study programs on Vergil, his influence, and the history and archaeology of his world, and publishes a scholarly journal.


The Harry Wilks Study Center at the Villa Vergiliana, in Cuma, Italy

The Society runs Classical Summer School study programs and tours, either at the Harry Wilks Study Center at the Villa Vergiliana, in Cuma, Italy (at the northwestern corner of the Bay of Naples, near where Vergil’s hero Aeneas met the Sibyl, and began his descent to the underworld), or at sites throughout the Mediterranean.  The Society runs a conference at the Villa on topics related to Vergil in the summer, the Symposium Cumanum.  More recently, the group has introduced the Fall Symposium Campanum on “the history, archaeology, art and architecture, and geology of Italy and Sicily.”  The Wilks Study Center at the Villa, which includes guest rooms and conference facilities including a kitchen, is also available to visiting scholars or groups.

The society’s journal, Vergilius, has been published since 1959.  The Society sponsors a panel at the January meeting of the Society for Classical Studies, and a translation contest for high school students.

Jim has been a member of the Vergilian Society his whole career.  He has published articles and reviews in Vergilius, and refereed manuscripts submitted for publication.  He has been a member of the Board of Trustees, the editorial board of Vergilius, and the McKay book prize committee.  In the summer of 2015, Jim gave a paper on “Prophecy in the Aeneid Revisited:  Lying, Exaggeration and Encomium in Aeneid 8 and the Shield of Aeneas,” in a Symposium Cumanum on the topic of “Revisiting Vergil and Roman Religion.”  In January of 2016, Jim was the respondent to the Vergilian Society panel at the Society for Classical Studies meeting in San Francisco.


View from the Villa Vergiliana of the half-excavated amphitheater

Professor of Classics emeritus George Houston was president of the Vergilian Society in 1979-80.

Haggis headed to ASCSA, 2015-2016

Donald Haggis was appointed Elizabeth A. Whitehead Visiting Professor at the American School of Classical Studies  in Athens (ASCSA), for the academic year 2015-2016, by vote of the Managing Committee of the School in January at the Annual Meetings of the Archaeological Institute of America in New Orleans. Haggis will be one of two visiting faculty members in residence at the ASCSA next year, conducting research and occasional seminars.

Founded in 1881, The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is a member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), providing graduate students and scholars from North American colleges and universities a base for research, fieldwork, and advanced study in Greek archaeology. UNC has been a member institution of the ASCSA for the better part of a century.

West’s dissertation now available online

Harvard’s Center for Helenic Studies has published William C. West’s study of Greek public monuments on its open-access portal.

Greek Public Monuments of the Persian Wars is a catalog of the public monuments fifth-century Greeks erected to commemorate the wars. Prof. West originally completed the project as his Pd.D. dissertation, itemizing and categorizing each monument in Greek. In recent years, Prof. West translated his catalog into English.

The original version of Prof. West’s work lives in Murphey Hall, making a pilgrimage to Chapel Hill necessary to use the item. Through CHS’s open-access platform, the newly translated text promises to reach a wider audience than before.

Read Prof. West’s complete work here.


Linderski celebrates birthday with advisees, faculty

In August, former students and colleagues gathered at the Sienna Hotel to celebrate the 80th birthday of Jerzy Linderski, Paddison Professor of Latin Emeritus. The event was organized by three of Prof. Linderki’s dissertation advisees, Tim Moore, PhD ’86; Hans Mueller, PhD ’94; and Christoph Konrad, PhD ’85. To add to the festivities, Corey Brennan, representing Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and its libraries, presented Prof. Linderski with a certificate of appreciate for Prof. Linderski’s contributions to the field. Dinner was followed by a series of eulogies, to which Prof. Linderski responded with a gracious and elegant speech in Latin. It was an impressive tribute to an outstanding scholar, teacher, and mentor.



Magness lectures on Samson mosaic

On Jan. 15 Jodi Magness, a UNC adjunct professor in Classics and professor of Religious Studies, will present a slide-show lecture of findings from her Huqoq archaeological site. The lecture will held 5:30-6:30 p.m.at Duke University’s Divinity School, the Westbrook building, room 14.

Prof. Magness has earned acclaim for the Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue unearthed in the ancient Galilean village where she has been excavating since 2011. The holy site is paved with a mosaic depicting biblical hero Samson and a elephant battle scene that may be related to the Maccabean martyrdom traditions.

The lecture is sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies and Center for Late Ancient Studies. For information, visit Duke’s calendar of events.

Henry Immerwahr, 1916-2013

We are saddened to share that Henry Rudolph Immerwahr, emeritus professor, passed away on Sept. 15, 2013. Prof. Immerwahr’s colleagues and former students remember the international scholar for his innovative intellect and sociable and patient personality.

Memorial services will be held 2 p.m. Oct. 5, 2013 at Carol Woods.

Born in Germany and educated at the University of Florence, the philologist continued his education at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. There, he met his wife, Sara Anderson Immerwahr. With the outbreak of war, Prof. Immerwahr immigrated to America in 1939, continuing his studies at Yale University and serving in the U.S. Army. After the war and a brief stint at Harvard University, the Herodotus scholar returned to Yale as a professor for ten years before migrating south to Chapel Hill in 1957.

Here, he and his wife became prominent academic and social fixtures in the department. He rose to the rank of full professor by 1963, and she taught part-time for the department before becoming an associate professor in the Department of Art.

“I have so many good memories, often of Henry and Sally together entertaining after evening lectures,” Kenneth Reckford reflected in an email. “They were a wonderful team.”

The congenial professor also helped those around him navigate academia. Prof. Reckford often reaped the bounty of Prof. Immerwahr’s “old and new ways of thinking about Classics” over coffee and doughnuts in Lenoir Hall. “It helped me enormously to discuss Homer with him, and Herodotus and Thucydides, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Plato, but more than that: Henry helped me feel more comfortable personally, both in the scholarly world and in the University, than I had ever felt before. He was my mentor. My corruptor, too: I had never before been a coffee-drinker.”

Coupling his caring attitude with a shrew eye for detail, Prof. Immerwahr thrived as an administrator, especially from 1966 through 1976 while George Kennedy chaired the department.

“Henry, in my fancy, played bishop to George’s king,” Prof. Reckford recalled. “He chewed over problems of individuals, of departmental morale and direction, much as he chewed over problems in Herodotus or Attic vase inscriptions.”

The bishop played a heavy hand in all levels of academic programming, establishing the curriculum requirements that still outline our present day requirements. He especially was credited with organizing the archaeology program and restructuring the graduate philology  programs, particularly re-igniting the Greek Ph.D. program. John Ziolkowski was the first student to complete a Greek Ph.D. thesis in 1963, and Prof. Immerwahr directed a total of 15 dissertations and one thesis while at UNC.

“Henry Immerwahr directed my dissertation and I took several of his courses,” William C. West, a former student and colleague, wrote. “He was a stimulating teacher, because of his knowledge of his subject and ability to convey it.”

“Henry found ways to improve morale,” George Houston explained. “As acting chair, Henry (with Nancy Honeycutt’s help) realized one summer that there was a little extra money in the Department’s annual funds.  The result? A free lunch for the members of the Department, the “First Annual Salad Sling and Chicken Fling.” Although no one tossed salad and chicken the next year, Prof. Immerwahr always remained cognitive of the personal needs of his fellows and students.

When not attending to the needs of others, the “conscience of the department” was diligent with his own academic pursuits. He published Form and Thought in Herodotus (1966) and Attic Script: A Survey (1990), and established an online version of A Corpus of Attic Vase Inscriptions, with printed versions available at UNC, Oxford University, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

“It was the range of his interests, and his expertise in so many of them, that was so remarkable,” Prof. Houston summized. “From elementary Latin to graduate Greek courses, Greek archaeology to literary theory, Latin poetry to Greek vase inscriptions: Henry knew them all.” As a result, he was a member of the American Philological Association, the Archaeological Institute of America, a corresponding member of the Deutsches Archaologisches Institut, and the Philoi of the Gennadeion.

After years of service to UNC, the Alumni Distinguished Professor of Greek retired early in 1977 to serve as director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. He and his wife worked at the school where they met until 1982. After which, they returned to Chapel Hill and remained active in department until Sarah Immerwahr’s passing in 2008.

Prof. Immerwahr is survived by his daughter Mary Hiniker and her husband Jerry and their children.


Babcock Launches ‘The Well-Laden Ship’

Robert Babcock‘s recent publication, The Well-Laden Ship, charts new territory as the first translation of the early
BobBabcockcroppedeleventh-century Latin poem that taught young students not to “look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Originally compiled by Egbert of Liège, the poem served as a schoolroom reader in the Middle Ages. It consists of many still-familiar proverbs, fables, and folktales derived from the Bible, ancient poets, and the common vernacular. As part of the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library series, the text contains facing-page translations, making it easy for one to compare the English and Latin texts. As a result, Babcock’s translation of this rare reader provides early Latin derivations of not only Vergil and Juvenal but also “Jack Sprat” and “Little Red Riding Hood.”

The Well-Laden Ship will provide its reader a better understanding of the medieval education and poetry that informs our modern proverbial wisdom and folklore.


Oct. 30, 1936 to Dec. 20, 2012

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Gerhard Koeppel, professor emeritus. During his decades in the department, Dr. Koeppel’s kindness left an indelible mark on Classical archaeology and his students and colleagues.

“Gerhard was a lovely, gentle man,” Sara Mack, professor emerita remembers. He was “a good teacher with a good sense of humor.”

Cecil Wooten, professor emeritus and former chair of the department, echoes Dr. Mack’s fond memories:

“Gerhard Koeppel was a kind and gentle man who was extremely generous with his time and with his expertise. His help was invaluable to me when I was preparing lectures on Roman painting, sculpture, and architecture for my Roman Civilization class. Not only did Gerhard advise me about bibliography and answer my numerous questions, he even took many of his own slides over to the slide lab and had them copied for me. I will always have a very fond memory of him.”

Dr. Koeppel began his academic career studying ancient Roman art and archaeology at the University of Cologne. Specializing in Roman Historical Reliefs of the Roman Empire, he joined our faculty in the late 1960s. For approximately 30 years, Dr. Koeppel shared his expertise not only with his students and colleagues but with the international archaeological community through numerous publications and professional positions; one of his most important contributions was his catalogue of Roman historical reliefs published as a series of annual articles in Bonner Jahrbuecher from 1983 to 1992. He was a member of the Archaeological Institute of America, the Classical Society of the American Academy in Rome, the Deutscher Archaeologenverband, and Corresponding Member of the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut. He also was resident scholar at the American Academy in Rome, 1974-75; professor-in-charge of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, 1980-81, 1989-90, and spring 1998; and director of the American Academy Summer School, 1986-1988.

Born Oct. 30, 1936, Dr. Koeppel passed away Dec. 20, 2012, in Germany. He is survived by wife Anette Koeppel, and by their children and grandchildren, Peter Koeppel and Yordanka Nedyalkova and Oskar; Hertha and Pedro Gabás and family; and Ernst and Heidi Koeppel and family.



Emily BaragwanathWe congratulate Emily Baragwanath for winning the 2013 Philip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement.

“What a tremendous surprise and delight it was to be awarded this prize,” Baragwanath exclaimed by email.

The University awards just four faculty members at the advanced assistant or junior associate level with the Hettleman Prize. Other winners this year are from the fields of science and medicine. In addition to being awarded $5,000, all recipients are given the opportunity to deliver a University lecture during the academic year. Because Baragwanath is spending this academic term researching at Germany’s University of Heidelberg, however, the Alexander von Humboldt Fellow will present her lecture in the 2014-2015 academic year.


James J. O'HaraWe are pleased to announce that the Student Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Awards Committee recognized James J. O’Hara for  providing outstanding undergraduate instruction.

Since 1989, the committee has recognized select faculty and teaching assistants who “on the basis of demonstrated teaching excellence, success in
positively affecting a broad spectrum of students both in and outside of
the classroom, and creation of a dynamic learning environment.” In addition to an award certificate, Prof. O’Hara received a $5,000 award at the Chancellors’ Award Ceremony.