Winchester College Publication Winchester College Classic Talks - Page 11

was pretty daunting). I particularly admire this photo. I am not sure whether he or his cat is the more intimidating, but they share the same look. He was described to me by my own undergraduate tutor as ‘the most eccentric man in Oxford’, and that’s always quite a thing to claim. I got him arrested once: I was staying with him and his family in Massachusetts, and Antonia and I went for a walk through the snow-clad campus of Wellesley College. We were followed by the family cat (not the one in the photograph: that was the Oxford cat), but Antonia urged me not to worry: ‘the stupid creature will find its way back’. Of course it didn’t, and Hugh had to go and look for it in the dark. A shambling character walking around the campus at night must have seemed a bit suspicious, and ‘I am the Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford University’ tends not to cut much ice with an American cop. Peter Parsons (1989–2003: Figure 21), a brilliant papyrologist and a very good friend. We are getting close to home, and I will be more sparing. Christopher Pelling (2003–15: Figure 22). The photo was taken at a Plutarch conference: Heaven knows what I had just said. The worrying thing is that the other man (Philip Stadter) is a world-expert on Plutarch . . . Figure 21 Peter Parsons Gregory Hutchinson (2015– : Figure 23): an extremely learned and lovely man, who might equally have been elected to the Chair of Latin. No women – yet: Cambridge is ahead of us there. Figure 23 Gregory Hutchinson Before I was elected I remember asking Peter Parsons, as politely as I could, ‘What is it that you actually do all day?’ It was a good question, to which the only answer is ‘Whatever comes up . . . ’. One has less contact with undergraduates than might be expected, and less than one would like: Murray and Dodds both commented on how frustrating it was to lecture to rows of student faces when they could recognise only a handful. Both put on classes of translation into English verse in order to put that right; I, for a time, gave a class at an early stage to students who had started Greek at the university. Things do change, and there is now much more of a public role, even (not to be too grand about it) a national role as a sort of spokesman for Classics; Michael Gove, for instance, appointed me to lead an initiative to promote classical language teaching in state schools. Still, that is nothing compared with what Gilbert Murray achieved, and that was long before it was considered part of the job. One thing that has certainly changed is the role with graduate students. Doctoral work hardly featured at all in Oxford Humanities until after the Second World War; now we give something like sixty places a year in Classical Languages and Literature alone, and there are a lot more in Ancient History and in Classical Archaeology. So a great deal of my own teaching was given to graduate supervision and seminars, and – much though I missed the undergraduates whom I got to know so well as a college tutor – that too was deeply rewarding and enjoyable. So various wheels have turned full circle. In a way, Pattison’s view of the university has mounted a come-back, though Jowett’s emphasis on undergraduate teaching is still important too: it’s by now something of a score-draw. I therefore spent most of my time talking to men and women some ten years older than those – all men, of course, then – that John Harpsfield would have taught. But I could never have written onomatopoeic Greek hexameters on a flyleaf half as well as the younger John Harmar. Figure 22 Christopher Pelling and an appalled Philip Stadter My thanks to Richard Foster for showing me Harmar’s library and several of its volumes, especially the hexameter version of Jeremiah. 20 21