Biographies of Faculty Members in the UBC Department of Classics, 1936-1957
GEOFFREY BLUNDELL RIDDEHOUGH
Credit: U.B.C. Archives
(record no. 5.1/2594)
GEOFFREY BLUNDELL RIDDEHOUGH (1900-78) was a man of wide-ranging interests, with a preternatural facility with languages, and a profound addiction to punning. His year book noted that he combined “a prof’s mind and a Puck’s imagination.”
Born in England, he received his secondary education at Penticton B.C.. In 1924 he took a first-class honours degree at UBC in Latin and English (specialising in Middle English and Anglo-Saxon), and won the Governor-General’s gold medal. He was President of the exclusive Letters Club, to which he delivered papers on Oliver Wendell Holmes and on the poets of the “Great War,” and shortly after graduation he brought out a slim volume of verse.
Riddehough’s subsequent career led to an MA at Berkeley (1925), research in Oxford and Paris in 1930-31 on medieval Christmas carols, and stints in the English department at Alberta, and in both the Classics and English departments at UBC. He finally joined his alma mater’s Classics department as a Lecturer in 1937, and, whilst teaching there, obtained a further MA (1939) with a thesis The Mercenaries of Ancient Carthage.
For his PhD (1951) from Harvard he edited the twelfth-century poet Joseph of Exeter’s Bellum Troianum. Though this edition remained unpublished, it formed the basis for an English translation by another scholar published in 1970. Riddehough's engagement with medieval studies was maintained at UBC by his former pupil, Bettye Bongie, when in the early 1970s a Medieval Studies programme was developed in the Faculty of Arts, and Classics contributed a crucial service course in medieval Latin.
He was a member of the British Society for Psychical Research, which investigated all aspects of the paranormal, but only a few anecdotes (visits to a witch on the Isle of Man; expelling a malign spirit from a Vancouver residence) indicate the scope of his activities in this area. Riddehough was also, and perhaps surprisingly to those who knew him in later years as a rather reclusive figure, active in the late 1920s under the command of Colonel Logan in UBC’s Canadian Officer Training Corps, where he demonstrated considerable skill as a rifle shot.
PEISANDROS' POP-EYES, OR A TALE OF TWO GEOFFRIES
In his The Songs of Homer (Cambridge, 1963) p.343 Geoffrey Kirk remarks of the descriptions of wounds in the Iliad that: "There is a strong element of accurate description in these accounts of wounds; but there is often, too, a strong element of fantasy and exaggeration.
Most scholars would not quibble with Kirk's characterization of this passage as marked by "fantasy and exaggeration". Riddehough's letter is not extant, but Kirk's reply is, carefully pasted in the back of Riddehough's copy of The Songs of Homer, now in the collection of the Classics Reading Room.
FROM: G. S. Kirk, Trinity Hall: Cambridge. TO:May 31, 1963
Dear Dr. Riddehough,
Thank you very much for your kind remarks about my The Songs of Homer, and for the interesting piece of information about the owl whose eyes dropped out.
I've done some enquiring from my colleagues in zoology and physiology, and I don't believe your experience does, in fact, invalidate my assumption! It seems that the owl's eyes (being v. large) are very loosely attached compared with a human's; that the surrounding bone-structure would not keep them in, as a human's would; and that the muscle-structure again differs in its retentive effect. Such scientific opinion as I've tapped (still in an amateurish way, I fear) confirms that for human eye-balls to drop out when the skull is punctured or shattered is virtually impossible.
I'm most grateful to you for your help and interest: if you can show my information viz à viz owls and humans to be wrong, I'll be delighted to hear Yours sincerely
JEAN M. AULD
JEAN M. AULD, the first woman faculty member in Classics, and known only from the evidence in the University Calendar, held an undergraduate degree from Colorado, and an MA from McGill. She taught briefly at UBC as an Instructor in 1931-2, but when she returned for a longer stay (1938-43) she may have pioneered a new course that combined Greek art (one hour) with literature in translation (two hours). (The calendars do not identify the instructor for this course, but Auld is the likeliest candidate, since the course was introduced in the year of her arrival and suspended when she left the staff in 1943.) It was called Greek 4, and its art hour was "a survey of architecture, sculpture, and the minor arts from the Aegean period to the Hellenistic, with consideration of their aesthetic value and their relation to Hellenic life and thought." This segment used "lantern slides and photographs from the Carnegie Collection" (i.e., donated, as much material was in UBC's early days, by the Carnegie Endowment.) It remained on the books under different designations until 1952-3. Only in the 1960s did such courses in art return to the department's curriculum.
PATRICK CRICHTON FRASER GUTHRIE (1912-72)
Credit: U.B.C. Archives
(record no. 5.1/1195)
PATRICK CRICHTON FRASER GUTHRIE (1912-72), born at Lac Achigan, Quebec, and educated at the Universities of Manitoba and Toronto, became an Instructor in 1937, but was soon absent on war service. He had studied in the burgeoning doctoral program at the University of Toronto, where he specialised in Roman imperial history under the versatile ancient historian, Charles Norris Cochrane, and wrote a dissertation (completed in 1949) on the Roman vilicus (or "overseer"). He lectured on Roman history, and taught prose composition.
LOUIS ALEXANDER MACKAY
LOUIS ALEXANDER MACKAY (1901-82) replaced Lemuel Robertson as the department's senior Latinist in 1941. He was the first product of the noted Toronto Honour Classics Programme to teach at UBC. He had been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford (Balliol College; 2nd Class in Literae Humaniores, 1928), and had taught at Toronto during the 1930s. He specialised as a critic of the major Roman poets, but was also a creative writer, who published poetry, and had plays (including one in French) staged in Toronto. He was also associated with the progressive journal,The Canadian Forum, in which, often under the pseudonym John Smalacombe, he published poems, and literary essays on writers as diverse as Proust and Somerset Maugham.
In 1945-6 MacKay held a Guggenheim Fellowship, and spent part of his sabbatical at Berkeley, where the department was headed by another Canadian progressive, and fellow contributor to the Canadian Forum, William Hardy Alexander, formerly of the University of Alberta. After producing the now forgotten The Wrath of Homer (1948) (castigated in reviews for neglecting the revolutionary research of Milman Parry into oral poetry),MacKay succeeded in 1948 in obtaining a position at Berkeley where he remained for the rest of his career. He may have been glad to leave UBC, if his morose poem “Downtown Vancouver” is anything to go by. Here he complained about "glum-featured women," and described the city as "this tight-lipt town, grim-woman'd and grim-girl'd."
MacKay later (1959-60) served as President of the American Philological Association. Towards the end of his career in the late 1960s, as student protests raged around him, he provided some unexpected instruction in Latin verse composition for Phillip Harding.
WILLIAM LEONARD GRANT
Credit: U.B.C. Archives
(record no. 5.1/1156)
WILLIAM LEONARD GRANT (1914-67), according to the program for his doctoral oral examination, was born at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, an intriguing fact on which his surviving contemporaries have been unable to enlarge. Like Bettye Bongie later, his undergraduate years were divided between Victoria College and UBC, where he graduated in 1936 with first-class honours in Classics, and served as President of the Classics Club. An MA at Harvard in 1938 was followed in 1943 with a doctorate at Toronto earned for a dissertation on Cicero's Partitiones Oratoriae, written under the direction of Charles Cochrane. He focused on neo-Latin poetry, and published prolifically in this area over the next twenty years, concentrating on the pastoral poetry of the Renaissance. He also maintained a departmental sub-culture (originated by O.J. Todd) by teaching some Latin verse composition.
MALCOLM FRANCIS MCGREGOR
Credit: U.B.C. Archives
(record no. 5.1/1883)
MALCOLM FRANCIS MCGREGOR (1910-89) had come as a teenager to Vancouver from Beckenham, in Kent, where he had developed an early and enduring loyalty to the soccer team Crystal Palace, and a passion for the sport of cricket.
He left UBC in 1931 with a BA (2nd. Class Pass), an MA (his 51 page thesis, “Rome and Germany” offered no indication of future interests), and impressive extra-curricular achievements that included goalkeeper for the Varsity soccer team, Sports Editor of the student newspaper, the Ubyssey, and vaudevillian in the pantomimes produced by the Society of Thoth. In this all-male thespian freemasonary, he held, according to his yearbook, the title “Scribe of the Papyrus,” and as a member of the “Royal Egyptian Ballet,” starred as “a Hula girl, Druid, and Egyptian maiden” in the Society’s major annual production, the Annual Homecoming Ballet. The yearbook also reports that during his second year he won the “Muck-a-Muck Male Beauty Contest.”
After following Homer Thompson’s path to the University of Michigan (1931-33),McGregor moved to the University of Cincinnati, where he took his doctorate (1937), and joined the faculty, in the exciting years in which Carl Blegen (1887-1971) was redefining the chronology of Troy. When his supervisor, Allen Brown West (1886-1936), died prematurely in an automobile accident, McGregor succeeded this “gifted polymath” (as he later recalled him) as collaborator with Theodore Wade-Gery and Benjamin Meritt in a monumental four-volume edition of the set of fifth-century BC inscriptions known as The Athenian Tribute Lists (4 vols. 1939-1950).
McGregor returned to UBC in 1954 as Head of a department of four aging members, and retired in 1975, leaving behind a department of thirteen young members. An indefatigable and prominent campus personality, he headed the Ceremonies Office for many years.
McGregor carrying the mace at Congregation, 1959.
Credit: U.B.C. Archives (record no. 1.1/6790)
He became the department’s second Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in1970-71 served as President of the American Philological Association. He also arranged for the Association to meet in Vancouver in December1978. In 1981 he became the first, and so far only, member of the department to be the recipient of a Festschrift (Classical Contributions).
He was an inspiring teacher and a vigorous champion of liberal education as theguardian of the purity of the English language. He once wrote: “I want my liberally educated man, when he hears the pilot assure him ‘Hopefully, we shall take off momentarily,’ to shudder — twice.”
ELIZABETH AGNES EMILY (“BETTYE”) BONGIE
Bettye Bongie at the time of her first appointment at U.B.C. (1956).
Credit: U.B.C. Archives
(record no. 5.1/4490)
ELIZABETH AGNES EMILY (“BETTYE”) BONGIE (ebongie(at)interchange.ubc.ca) became, as Elizabeth Bryson, the department's first woman tenure-track appointee when she became a Lecturer in 1956, after taking a doctorate at the University of Illinois under the great Polish emigré scholar Alexander Turyn (1900-81). Her dissertation was one of enduring value on the Byzantine recension of the manuscripts of Aeschylus. She later assisted Turyn in his codicological publications.
Her undergraduate career was divided between Victoria College and UBC, and she graduated in Honours Classics in 1951, winning the Governor General’s gold medal, as had her teacher Geoffrey Riddehough twenty-four years earlier. An active member of the Classics Club, she starred in what appears to have been its first full-length dramatic production, that of Euripides’Alcestis in translation staged at Brock Hall on February 8th.,1951. She took the part of Alcestis’ servant, while Heracles was played by another future classical scholar, the Latinist Edwin Ramage (later of the University of Indiana).
The cast of the Classics Club's production of the Alcestis:
front and centre E. Bongie, back row right E. Ramage.
Credit: E. Bongie
Bettye retired in 1992 after a long and distinguished teaching career at UBC, which included a Master Teaching Award. In 1995 she published an annotated translation of Ps.-Athanasius’ Life and Regimen of Syncleitica.
CHARLES WILLIAM JOHN ELIOT
Credit: U.B.C. Archives
(record no. 5.1/848)
CHARLES WILLIAM JOHN ELIOT was the department’s first professional archaeologist, appointed in 1957. He was born in 1928 in Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan, then in the British Raj), the son of a Canadian colonel in the Royal Artillery. Educated in Ottawa, he had, after taking an undergraduate degree in Classics at Toronto, tried to initiate an unlikely career as a chartered accountant. He soon returned to academia, and following his MA at Toronto in 1952, headed for Athens, and the American School of Classical Studies. His Toronto doctorate, written under Mary White and J. Walter Graham, was awarded in 1961 for a dissertation on the coastal demes of Attica, which was published in the following year. Eliot remained at UBC until 1971 when he returned to the American School as Professor of Archaeology. He later (1985-93) served as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island. At the end of his time at UBC, and for some years thereafter, he collaborated with two later appointees in classical archaeology, James Russell and Hector Williams, on an excavation at Anemurium in southern Turkey.
Willie Eliot, shown here during the sabbatical year (1984-85) that he spent in UBC's Classics Department.
Credit: CNERS archive
WILLIAM J. DUSING
William J. Dusing in the Classics Corridor (1985).
Credit: CNERS Archives
WILLIAM J. DUSING (1938-1993). The following notice is taken from the tribute by Harry Edinger published in the Department of Classics Newsletter No. 14, Autumn-Winter 1993, p. 1.
“Bill Dusing came to the UBC Department of Classics in 1962, after three years in the graduate schoolof the University of Toronto. The early sixties were a time when Canadian universities were expanding rapidly, and Malcolm McGregor, then Head of the department, was recruiting young scholars at a rate that seems inconceivable in today’s academic climate. What attracted him to Bill Dusing were Bill’s qualifications as a Roman historian, no doubt, but the close connection to Cincinnati must have counted as well. Bill had been born in Covington, Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati, in whose university Malcolm had taught for some seventeen years. That connection also meant an interest in the Cincinnati Reds, another qualification in McGregor’s views.”
“Bill was always ready to make friendships and he quickly became well known throughout the Faculty of Arts, which was much smaller and more socially lively than it is now. Apart from his teaching in the department Bill was soon serving as an assistant to the then Dean of Arts, Dennis Healy (1911-1984; Dean of Arts 1965-1969), and as a faculty adviser. Under Dean Robert Will (Dean of Arts 1975-1990) he became Senior Faculty Advisor, an important administrative post that he held for nearly twelve years. He was awarded a UBC 75th Anniversary Medal for his services to the university, which went beyond the day-to-day business of the Senior Faculty Advisor’s office.”
Credit: U.B.C. Archives (record no. 5.1/1318)
Credit: U.B.C. Archives (record no. 5.1/3274)
"His highest university degree was his MA from the University of Toronto, where he had also been an undergraduate at St. Michael’s College. In his field of Roman history he was a wise and witty lecturer, and he was a fine Latinist as well. He was a leader in the group that persuaded a reluctant Malcolm McGregor to enhance the Classical Studies (Classics in translation) programme at UBC, and convinced him of its worth. Bill Dusing eventually developed an undergraduate course in Roman law that was a favourite with students because the quality of his teaching made the potentially dry material so lively."
He is survived by his wife Ann, now Emerita Assistant Professor in the Department of Classical Near-Eastern and Religious Studies.
Bill and Ann Dusing
Credit: CNERS Archives
A Motley Quartet at the UBC Faculty Golf Tournament, 28 April 1971.
Standing: W. J. Dusing, A. A. Barrett, M. F. McGregor
Crouching: P. C. F. Guthrie.
Credit: CNERS Archives