Classics professor Johnson to speak on Roman elegy for Assembly Series

Critically acclaimed W. Ralph Johnson, the emeritus John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor of Classics and Comparative Studies at the University of Chicago, will lecture at 4 p.m. March 18 Women’s Building Formal Lounge for the Assembly Series.

Johnson’s talk, titled “The D/Evolution of Love: The Origins of Roman Elegy,” will serve as the John and Penelope Biggs Residency in the Classics Lecture.

Reviewers note that Johnson’s writings present refreshing interpretations of classical texts and reveal new insights into these ancient writers and the value of their work to contemporary society.

He has written numerous scholarly articles and reviews. He is a published poet and has also authored several books, including Lucretius and the Modern World (2000), Horace and the Dialectics of Freedom (1993), The Idea of Lyric (1982) and Darkness Visible: A Study of Vergil’s Aeneid (1976).

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Latin and a doctorate in classics, all from the University of California, Berkeley. He taught classics there and later at Cornell University before moving to the University of Chicago in 1981, where he chaired the classics department from 1983-88.

He has held the Manly professorship since 1989 and was appointed emeritus in 1998.

The Biggs residency is funded by a gift of Washington University alumni John and Penelope Biggs. Each spring, students and faculty have the opportunity to interact with a noted visiting scholar in the Department of Classics in Arts & Sciences.

During his visit, Johnson will also speak on “The Temptations of Icarus: Bravado in Tristia 2” at 4:15 p.m. March 15 in Steinberg Auditorium. For more information on this event, call Cathy Marler at 935-5123.

Assembly Series talks are free and open to the public. For more information, call 935-4620 or go online to

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