In Memoriam: S B Jackson: 8 December 1946-26 May 2012

By Hilton, J. L. | Akroterion, Annual 2012 | Go to article overview

In Memoriam: S B Jackson: 8 December 1946-26 May 2012


Hilton, J. L., Akroterion


Steven Brian Jackson was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and was educated at Campbell College in the same city. In his teens he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis and, after experiencing acute heart failure in his thirties, lived with a complex combination of chronic illnesses for the rest of his life. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, he made the most of his earthly existence and followed the lives of others with empathy. (1) He chose to lead an academic career and obtained a BA Honours degree in Classics from the University of Ulster in 1971 after which he taught Classics at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution from 1971-1985. During this time he completed his MA entitled The Argonautica according to Pindar at the Queen's University of Belfast (1974) and began his career as a researcher with articles on Marcus Caelius Rufus (1974) and Apollonius of Tyana (1984). He was appointed Schoolmaster Fellow at Trinity College Dublin for the Michaelmas term of 1977 and Schoolmaster Commoner at St. John's College, Oxford for the Hilary term of 1984. (2) In 1987 he enrolled for a PhD at Trinity College, Dublin. While studying for his doctorate he took up part-time posts as lecturer at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth (1987-1988), a branch of the National University of Ireland, and then at Trinity (1988-1989). His PhD was conferred on him in 1988. This thesis, later published as Creative selectivity in Apollonius' Argonautika (1993), investigates the reasons why Apollonius chose to follow one mythological tradition rather than another in constructing his epic poem (he emphasizes the erotic aspects of Jason's visit to Lemnos, for example, and omits other versions) and shows that the poet was not afraid to innovate where this suited his purpose (for example, Apollonius is the first poet to portray Apsyrtus as an adult -- Why?). His mentors and colleagues in his postgraduate and later years included R G Ussher, G L Huxley, D E W Wormell (whose unfinished manuscript on 'Roman exiles' Jackson was at one point editing for publication), M Davies, J M Dillon, and F Williams. He continued to correspond with many of these and other scholars throughout his life. (3)

Steven Jackson's most prolific years as a researcher in the field of Hellenistic poetry and paradoxography were the 1990s, after his appointment as lecturer at the University of Natal, Durban, in 1989. During this decade he published twenty-one articles in international Classics journals in the UK, Germany, Italy and the US, on Apollonius' Argonautica, and on the fragments of Myrsilus of Methymna and Istrus of Paphos. Many of his articles on the latter two authors were collected together with some new studies in two monographs, one of which, Myrsilus of Methymna: Hellenistic paradoxographer, is cited in the third and fourth editions of The Oxford Classical Dictionary (there is no entry on Istrus). Following the publication of his collection of articles on Istrus, Istrus the Callimachean (2000), he was invited to present a paper on Istrus of Paphos: Cypriot and Callimachean at a conference on Hellenism in Cyprus from Stasinos to Demonax 22-25 September 2005 at Nicosia and Paphos, Cyprus, at which the keynote address was delivered by M L West. At the time of his death he was finalizing his entry on the 77 fragments of Istrus for Brill's New Jacoby. Dr. Monica Berti has agreed to see this work through the publication process.

Jackson was one of the founders of the research colloquia that are now regularly held in the Classics programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. He was an enthusiastic promoter of the cause of Classics (he regularly paid his subscription to the Classical Association of South Africa and chaired the Durban branch of the Association in 1994) and supported the introduction of courses such as Mythology, Classics in the Movies, The Greeks and India, and Modern Greek, although these modules--with the exception of Modern Greek, which was never successfully taught, neither at UND nor at UKZN--only really took off after he had left the university. …

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