Introduction to the revised edition of “Latin and Greek As Used at Sewanee”

From a Sewanee Features piece last year, some of you will know that I am planning on publishing (at some point in the near but as yet undetermined future) a revised edition of the little pamphlet, Latin and Greek as Used at Sewanee by Forrest Dillon from 1972. When I reached out to him, Forrest was good enough to write the following preface for the new edition–it’s too good to keep to myself until the book is done, so here it is. –CMcD

It was a pleasant surprise last year when I received an email from Classical Languages Professor Chris McDonough, letting me know that he and some of his students were about to prepare a revised edition of “Latin and Greek As Used at Sewanee”.

Professor McDonough referred me to his Sewanee Features article, “Veni, Vidi, Scripsi”, in which he explains the impetus for the project, and summarizes some examples of Latin and Greek texts that can be found around the campus. He asked me to write an introduction to the new edition, and suggested I include some of the background story of the original pamphlet.

Going back 46 years into my memory bank would be challenging! But I was intrigued that there seems to be an interest in the Sewanee community for a recondite subject, and the more I communicated with Chris, the more interested I became.

“Latin and Greek As Used at Sewanee” was originally a term paper for Professor Bayly Turlington’s “Latin 412 – Linguistics” class, and was finished on April 29, 1970.

I found this paper in my files, entitled “Some Latin at Sewanee”. It is hand-written in black ink, and includes Dr. Turlington’s comments in red ink. I’ve sent it to Chris McDonough for the archives.

(I should mention here that Bayly Turlington (Dr. T, to me and my classmates), his wife Anne, son Fielding, and daughter Bowman became a kind of second family to me in my four years on the Mountain. I was from New Jersey, and usually couldn’t travel home for vacations; I often enjoyed kind hospitality at the Turlingtons’. I maintained contact with Bayly and his family for several years after graduating, until his untimely death in 1977. It was quite poignant for me to see, in Chris’ Sewanee Features article, the photo of Bayly’s memorial plaque in All Saints Chapel, with a very appropriate Greek inscription.)

Dr. T had suggested, shortly before I graduated in June of 1970, that I expand the term paper into a pamphlet for publication by Sewanee, and that I include whatever Greek writing I could find on campus. The result was eventually produced by the Office of Information Services in 1972.

I’m not sure when, in the period between graduation in 1970 and publication in 1972, I converted the term paper into the pamphlet.

In those years the war in Viet Nam was winding down, but our military was still heavily involved. My draft number was 11, and I had no chance of deferment; so in August of 1970 I reported for duty at the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, and spent the next two years on two different destroyers, the second of which spent time in the Tonkin Gulf, on the gun line. (My first ship, the USS Barry, is now a museum in Washington DC. I was an Intelligence Officer, and the Navy in its infinite wisdom put me, a Latin major, whose only bad grade at Sewanee was in Physics 103, in charge of all the electronics on the ship.)

I must have worked on the paper in the summer of 1970 and somehow in off-hours in the Navy. I do remember going over proofs which reached me in the South China Sea, and being aware of the contrast between the subject…ancient texts in leafy, tranquil Sewanee….and my immediate surroundings.

In any case, somehow before graduating I must have collected whatever Greek inscriptions I could find. The order of items in the paper was re-arranged, and some of the more abstruse grammatical notes were cut. On the “Acknowledgments” page in the pamphlet are listed the many people who helped, and no doubt Dr. T. was an essential editor.

I’ve learned from Chris the very good news that the classics department at Sewanee is thriving. It’s also gratifying that my little pamphlet will be updated, including the additions since 1970 of Latin and Greek items, and most importantly the correction of a serious lacuna: the Sewanee diploma! Herewith my apologies, long overdue, for this lack.

Many thanks and best wishes to Professor Chris McDonough and his students for undertaking this project. 

Forrest Dillon
September 2016
Brunswick, Maine

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About Uncomely and Broken

I am a classicist in Sewanee, Tennessee.
This entry was posted in Classics, Education, Nautical, Sewanee, Tennessee, Time. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Introduction to the revised edition of “Latin and Greek As Used at Sewanee”

  1. William McKeachie, C'66, P'10, P'17(BA & MA!) says:

    What a splendid and encouraging venture of “anamnesis” and “anastasis” alike on the part of both of you! Please publish, and reserve half a dozen copies for me, as soon as possible. May Latin and Greek ever thrive on the Mountain, in the University’s curriculum, its degree ritual, and the hearts and minds of all Arcadians!

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