Academic journal article Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society

Michael Hamilton Jameson

Academic journal article Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society

Michael Hamilton Jameson

Article excerpt

(ProQuest-CSA LLC: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted.)

15 OCTOBER 1924 * 18 AUGUST 2OO4

DEATH has deprived the world of Classical learning of one of its most versatile and humane exponents: Michael H. Jameson, the Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies Emeritus at Stanford University, died of cancer in Stanford Hospital on 18 August 2004, two months before his eightieth birthday. His memory was honored in a memorial service on 20 October 2004, in the Stanford Memorial Church.

Jameson was born in London, England, on 15 October 1924, during a visit of his parents, Raymond D. Jameson, professor of Western literature at the University of Peking (now Beijing), and Rose Perel Jameson. He spent his early years in Beijing, where he remembered meeting as a child scholars like I. A. Richards and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. After the divorce of his parents in 1935, he moved with his mother to London. In the City of London Schools he began the study of Greek and Latin, which he continued at the University of Chicago, receiving his A.B., with Greek as his major field, in 1942 at the age of seventeen. It was in a class on Thucydides in that year that he met Virginia Broyles, who was to become his wife after his discharge from service in the U.S. Navy as a Japanese translator (1943-46). They were happily married for fiftyeight years, and produced four sons, Nick, Anthony, John, and David.

The newlyweds settled in Chicago, where Mike completed his doctoral studies, and received his Ph.D. in 1949 with a dissertation on "The Offering at Meals: Its Place in Greek Sacrifice." I first met him during this period when we both worked in the Graduate Classics Reading Room. A cordial friendship quickly developed between us and was in due course extended to our families.

There are few areas of Greek studies that Michael Jameson's fertile and inquisitive mind did not try to explore. In his classroom lectures and seminars as well as in his well over sixty articles he showed interrelations between religion and locality, traditional text and inscription, literature and history. His written contributions to all these fields extend to well over half a century. He saw any given problem threedimensionally; that made his oeuvre a series of intensive and brilliant studies of whatever aspect of a given problem presented itself to his mind at any given time. Yet it is possible to see three primary strands in his scholarly contributions. There is, in the first place, his interest in Greek religion; second, his epigraphical work, which includes major contributions to Greek political and social history; and third, his exploration of the land, which encompasses both his excavations, especially at Halieis, and his pioneering work in organizing an ecological study of the Argolid. These three strands do not mark different periods in the development of his scholarly interests; rather, they underlie the work that characterizes his entire scholarly career.

The foundation of his holistic approach to Greek culture was laid by his acceptance of a Fulbright Fellowship for study at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens for 1949-50 immediately after completing his doctorate. He wanted to steep himself in the atmosphere and the people whose culture he had so far only encountered in books. On Carpathos he learned about the culture of a Greek community on the edge of the mainstream of Greek culture; by hiking with his wife over large sections of the Peloponnese, especially the Argolid, he learned to appreciate the value of inscriptions, which in many cases provided the only information about the history of the places he visited. The main fruit of this year was the development of his passion for epigraphy, culminating in his work on the Themistocles Decree, and in his excavation of Halieis, the modern Porto Cheli. Upon his return to the United States, he accepted an appointment as an assistant professor at the University of Missouri, but gave it up when offered the opportunity to fill what he regarded as a deficiency in his education as a classicist by accepting a Ford Fellowship for study at the Institute for Social Anthropology at Oxford University for 1953-54. …

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