Rudolph Hock, Introduction to the Snowden Annual Lecture Series

The Frank M. Snowden, Jr. Annual Lecture Series at Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Rudolph Hock

On November 21, 2003 Professor Snowden was honored at the White House as a recipient of the National Humanities Medal. The words with which he was introduced deserve repeating: “Frank M. Snowden, Jr., for a life of eminent scholarship, inspirational teaching, public service, and personal courage on behalf of civilization’s noblest ideals. A lion-hearted Classicist, he is an Olympian man.”

We in the Department of Classics were especially touched by this tribute, for we had earlier in that year (April 3) finally realized a goal that had long been planned, the first of what we hoped would be an annual lecture series in his name. Professor Snowden, otherwise known as ‘Zeus’ to his students, was a mainstay at Howard University for over forty years, serving both as Professor and Chair of the Classics Department, and as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In fact, it is fair to say that Howard’s Department of Classics and Professor Snowden are synonymous terms, for without his deep and vast learning, passion, determination, leadership, and commitment to excellence, Classics likely would not have flourished at the University. His exemplary scholarship is known to all; what is less widely known is that his legacy is alive and well in the Department, with more and more young men and women turning to the discipline he loves to this day. All of them share with me and my colleagues a profound and abiding sense of honor, respect, and admiration for this titan.

The series of lectures has as its guiding principle the presentation of outstanding scholarship in some aspect of the Classical World, tailored mostly to a broad undergraduate audience. We hope that commemorating Professor Snowden in this manner will, first and foremost, keep his name and achievements alive, and that it will thereby continue to inspire the next generation of Howard University classicists.

Three lectures have been delivered in this series so far: Danielle Allen: April 3, 2003; Keith Bradley, “‘The Bitter Chain of Slavery’: Reflections on Slavery in Ancient Rome,” April 8, 2004; and Stanley Burstein: April 7, 2005

I am enormously grateful to the Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Professor Gregory Nagy, for agreeing to publish the lectures electronically so that they may gain a far wider distribution than they had initially when delivered at our annual event.

Rudolph P. Hock, Chairman

Department of Classics

Howard University

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