Martin Litchfield West

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Martin Litchfield West
Born(1937-09-23)23 September 1937
Died13 July 2015(2015-07-13) (aged 77)
Oxford, England
NationalityBritish
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford [1]
OccupationProfessor, academic and author
Known forClassics scholar
Honours OM

Martin Litchfield West, OM, FBA (23 September 1937 – 13 July 2015) was a British classical scholar.

Contents

He wrote on ancient Greek music, Greek tragedy, Greek lyric poetry, the relations between Greece and the ancient Near East, and the connection between shamanism and early ancient Greek religion, including the Orphic tradition. This work stems from material in Akkadian, Phoenician, Hebrew, Hittite, and Ugaritic, as well as Greek and Latin.

In 2001, West produced an edition of Homer's Iliad for Teubner, accompanied by a study of its critical tradition and overall philology, entitled Studies in the Text and Transmission of the Iliad; a further volume on The Making of the Iliad appeared ten years later for Oxford University Press, and one on "The Making of the Odyssey" in 2014.

In addition to the Near-Eastern connection, in 2007 he wrote on the reconstitution of Indo-European culture and poetry, and its influence on Greece, in the book Indo-European Poetry and Myth. In recognition of his contribution to scholarship, he was awarded the Order of Merit in 2014.

Life and career

West was born in Hampton, Middlesex, the son of Catherine (née Stainthorpe) and a civil engineer, Maurice West. After graduating from St Paul's School, he proceeded to Balliol College. He married a fellow scholar Stephanie Pickard in 1960 at Nottingham, after meeting her at a lecture given by Eduard Fraenkel at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. [2] [3] He became a junior research fellow at St John's College from 1960 to 1963, where he produced his first work, an edition of Hesiod's Theogony . From the mid-sixties he took especial interest in the relation of Greek literature to the Orient, and over several decades, culminating in his masterpiece The East Face of Helicon (1997), defended his view that it derives significant influences and inspiration from Near Eastern literature. He took up a position as tutorial fellow at University College, a position he filled from 1963 to 1974. In 1973 he became the second youngest person to be elected a Fellow of the British Academy, at the age of 35. He obtained a chair at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, which he held from 1974 until 1991, when he became a fellow of All Souls College. [4] [5] A distinguished Hellenist, he however declined to campaign actively for the maintenance of a chair at London University.

West died in 2015 in Oxford at the age of 77. [6] Fellow Oxford academic Armand D'Angour paid tribute to him as "a man of few words in seven languages." [7]

Awards and honours

West was a DPhil and DLitt of Oxford University, and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, a Corresponding Member of the Akademie der Wissenschaften, Göttingen, and a Member of the Academia Europaea, London. HM The Queen appointed him a Member of the Order of Merit (OM) in the 2014 New Year Honours. [10]

Academic teaching and research history

Bibliography

Selected list of books

Editions, commentaries and translations of classical texts

Selected articles

His works also include contributions to dictionaries and books and more than 200 articles and papers since 1960.

See also

Notes

References