Friday, October 16, 2015

Walking among the Dead

While a freshman at Dartmouth College in 1898, Arthur H. Chivers fell in love with  the Old Dartmouth Cemetery. He could often be seen wandering the grounds. After he graduated in 1902, Chivers went on to earn a M.A. and a Ph.D in botany from Harvard. He joined the Dartmouth faculty as an instructor in botany in 1906. He retired a full professor in 1950. During his time at Dartmouth, Chivers was involved with many town and civic affairs. Having never forgotten his love for the cemetery he was happy to take over the supervision of the cemeteries as a member of the Board of Selectman of Hanover in 1948. First on his list of actions regarding the cemeteries in Hanover was to create a card index of all known burials, reading and recording the inscriptions on each stone. By 1951, he had made 1,814 entries.

Using William Worthington Dewey's journal "List of Deaths in the Vicinity of Dartmouth College Including Likewise the Hamlet usually Called Greensborough from AD 1769 to 1859," John Richard's "Record of Death, Internments and Descriptions 1771-1858" and official town records, Chivers then proceeded to map out the Old Dartmouth Cemetery, creating a location map and diagrams of every monument, stone and marker. Chivers also discovered that there were many discrepancies between the different sources and so, whenever it was possible, he contacted family members of the deceased to verify dates and names.

The entire project, a labor of love, took him four years to complete. As part of the process, Chivers could be seen crawling around the cemetery. At one point an unsuspecting visitor to the cemetery was so perturbed by this strange behavior that she rushed away to report it. According to Chivers, she said, "There's a very queer man in the cemetery and I think that the police should be told about him."

In 1952, Chivers gave his research to Kenneth C. Cramer, the college archivist, and it became part of Rauner's cemetery collection DH-38. We recently scanned Chivers's seven three-ring binders and they are available as one searchable record in pdf form on our web page. Since Chivers completed his record more than sixty years ago, many more inscriptions have disappeared. As such his contribution to the history of the Old Dartmouth Cemetery is invaluable. Arthur H. Chivers died in 1981, at the age of 101. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living alum and the only surviving member of the Class of 1902. He is buried in the cemetery that he loved.

Usually we tell you come in and take a look, but this time why not use Chivers's guide as you stroll through the cemetery.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The "God" in the Iliad

Publicity photo of Richmond LattimoreRichmond Lattimore '26 is widely regarded as one of the best modern translators of ancient Greek texts. For example, his 1952 translation of the Iliad is excellent and praised by his fellow classicists. Rauner Special Collections Library possesses a large amount of material relevant to Lattimore, ranging from poems he wrote as an undergraduate about sunny Hanover afternoons to his personal correspondence with friends.
Lattimore's notebook page displaying Book 15 line 403
Among these materials is a notebook he kept while translating the Iliad, conveying something of the method of his translational process. The notebook, covering Books 15 to 22 of the Iliad, contains little in the way of editing marks and closely resembles the finished, published translation, which is itself quirky. One example of this quirkiness is that it capitalizes "God," doing so ten times. Out of five other famous Iliad translations (Fagles, Lombardo, Fitzgerald, Merrill, Mitchell) there is no precedent for this decision. Interestingly, the notebook at Rauner indicates Lattimore’s initial uncertainty regarding the capitalized "God" in two different places, 15.403 and 17.101, images of which are shown here.


Lattimore's notebook page displaying Book 17 line 101For those unfamiliar with or rusty on the Iliad, the speakers of these two passages are, respectively, Patrokolos and Menelaos. Patrokolos (a Greek) speaks of his desire to bring Achilleus back into the fighting, and Menelaos (also a Greek) contemplates the consequences of yielding before Hektor, the mightiest Trojan warrior. Plot details aside, the strikethrough as seen in the first notebook image (Lattimore's own) conveys his somewhat intensive deliberation regarding phrasing, the subject of the sentence, and the capitalization of "God." As is evident, he does not capitalize the first instance of the word in his notebook, yet does so with the later Menelaos passage, shown here in the next image. In the published version of his translation, both instances are capitalized. So, the issue of capitalization in the notebooks, later resolved in published format, reveals Lattimore’s initial trepidation regarding whether to capitalize "God."

A letter addressed to Lattimore and archived in Rauner provides some valuable context for his deliberation over the unique capitalization of the word "God." Dated June 27, 1933, the letter’s author Page 5 from Jackson's letter to Lattimorewas Richard Jackson, a friend of Lattimore's from Dartmouth who graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Classics. The body of the letter is a speech that Jackson produced at Lattimore's request. The speech is somewhat discursive but discusses the importance of poetry and religion:
"Everywhere in epics and lyrics... is the poetry of religion. Religion, I realize, is a hazardous subject to discuss these days.... We should not lose sight of the immaterial idea.... Nay, we must believe in that idea, not through logic, but through poetry...."

The comment about religion being "hazardous" might explain Lattimore’s timidity. More importantly, the letter enshrines a moment when Lattimore apparently sympathized (by requesting the speech from Jackson) with the desire to believe in that "immaterial idea… through poetry." Moreover, the mention of "epics and lyrics" in the letter brings to mind the Iliad. This letter potentiates a Christian subtext to the capitalized "God" of Lattimore's translation, a potentially dangerous move for one who wished to have a reputation as a serious scholar of Greek literature.

To examine Richmond Lattimore's notebooks and correspondence in greater detail, ask for MS-503 at Rauner Library.

Posted for Henry Woram '17, CLST 4 class