Image Credit: Bust of Pindar, Roman copy, fifth century B.C.

A Guiding Presence

Bruno Gentili passed away in Rome on January 8.  He was Italy’s most distinguished scholar of ancient Greek language and literature.  His contributions ranged from composing a popular textbook of Greek lyric poetry and the basic introduction to Greek meter for Italy’s classical high schools to editing scholarly editions of the texts of the Greek lyric poets.  His important book Poetry and Its Public in Ancient Greece From Homer to the Fifth Century (1984; translation by Thomas Cole, 1988; new Italian edition, 1995) fundamentally changed the scholarly interpretation of Greek lyric poetry.  Its style won it the Viareggio prize in Italy as a work of literature.  Working with his friend, the literary critic Carlo Bo, Gentili helped make the small private university of Urbino a center for studying humanities.  As emeritus professor, he continued to influence research at Urbino, produced a new and completely rethought and revised scholarly book on Greek meter and music and two volumes of the works of the poet Pindar, where his own compelling translation into Italian accompanied the research of his students.

Gentili was a polymath, writing on Greek and Latin, but he always returned to Greek lyric poetry.  Modern classics arose in 19th-century Germany in the Romantic period.  Lyric poets...

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