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Speaker – Paul Woodruff

The Irish poet E. R. Dodds (1893–1979) was expelled as a student from Oxford in 1916 for protesting the English reaction to the Easter Rising. As a mature scholar, he transformed classical scholarship with his brilliant book The Greeks and the Irrational. The young poets W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice flourished in his informal salon. Sir Maurice Bowra (1898–1971) became an Oxford institution, a polymath brilliant in high table repartee and the subject of many delightful Oxford anecdotes. His many books were much admired; he was knighted and became Warden of Wadham College at Oxford. When Gilbert Murray retired as Regius Professor of Greek in 1936, Bowra believed that he was heir apparent. So did Oxford society. But under Murray’s influence, Dodds was named to the chair. On his arrival as professor, Oxford treated Dodds as an interloper, whispering that Bowra had been rejected because of his homosexuality and that Dodds had been disloyal to the Crown. What was really at issue between these two exemplary figures? Both were poets, and both were fine scholars, but they were very different kinds of scholars. Paul Woodruff has taught at UT since 1973. His publications include Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue, The Ajax Dilemma: Justice and Fairness in Rewards, and The Necessity of Theater. He has translated (with Peter Meineck) all of Sophocles’ surviving plays, as well as Plato’s Symposium (with Alexander Nehamas). This year he has brought out edited volumes on Oedipus and on the ethics of philanthropy. His latest book, which should be in print around November 30, is The Garden of Leaders: Toward a Revolution in Higher Education.

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