In Memoriam: Daniel P. Tompkins

Submitted by Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Professor and Chair, Department of Greek and Roman Classics, Temple University

Daniel P. Tompkins passed away on Saturday, June 10th, following a long illness. Dan was born in New York, NY and raised in Montclair, NJ. 

Dan received his BA from Dartmouth College in 1962. After completing his doctorate at Yale University in 1968, where Adam Parry in particular was a great influence, he taught first at Wesleyan University (1965–1973) and then Swarthmore College (1974–1976), before finally landing at Temple University. In between Wesleyan and Swarthmore, he was a fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.

Temple’s small Classics department had disappeared in the early 1970s when its faculty departed in a burst of mid-career changes, but then, after a hiatus, faculty in other departments asked Temple’s administration for its return. Dan was hired to resurrect the discipline here from scratch. While this was certainly no small task, Dan, with a legendarily wide-ranging intellect and boundless energy, was ideally suited to this project. His gentle humility and warm, optimistic humanity generated both respect in and affection from others. Dan’s first hire, in 1978, was Martha Davis, and together they forged a student-centered culture that persists to this day. While Dan retired from teaching in 2010, his intellectual DNA has proven remarkably durable in the department.

His magnanimity touched many, as Associate Professor Karen Hersch recalls:

His generosity and goodness to us truly knew no bounds. Some recent kindnesses to us here at Temple: In 2021 and 2022, he graciously agreed to speak as part of our panels on diversity and justice, “Teaching Race in the Ancient Mediterranean at Temple.” I saw him last in person at our winter holiday party, and he was profoundly grateful to be there–suffused with light is an understatement—and all he could talk about was how amazed he was to see such happy, excited and involved students. I was delighted that he continued to write me to share wonderful musings and citations, and I was humbled that he would ask me questions. His last email to me was typical of him, quintessential Dan: he sent me congratulations on our Carleton-Temple conference on women, and added that he wished he had more time with my younger colleagues. We will cherish those words.

Dan’s affable curiosity and concern for his students also made him an outstanding teacher. He was recognized for this work twice: first, with the Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Philological Association in 1980, and, second, with Temple University’s Great Teacher Award in 2009.

Dan wore many different hats at Temple, especially during the latter part of his career when the department’s growth allowed him to spread his wings a bit. He was one of the founders of Temple’s core humanities program, Intellectual Heritage, and served as its director twice (1980–1983, 2000–2005). In between, his passion for student learning led him to the Provost’s office, where he worked as Faculty Fellow for Learning Communities (1993–2000), while also serving on important committees, often chairing them.

The burden of this important work meant that Dan usually did not have enough time for his own research. That said, what he did manage to complete is generally still considered to be significant, especially his work on Thucydides, which is still cited regularly (e.g. “Stylistic Characterization in Thucydides: Nicias and Alcibiades,” Yale Classical Studies: Studies in Fifth Century Thought and Literature, ed. Adam Parry, 22 [1972], pp. 181–214”). After retiring from teaching, Dan pursued his passionate interest in the work of Moses Finley and his intellectual circle, about which he had earlier already published (“The World of Moses Finkelstein: The Year 1939 in M.I. Finley’s Development as a Historian,” Chapter in Michael Meckler, ed., Classical Antiquity and the Politics Of America. Baylor State University Press, 2006. Pp. 95–126). His keen interest in pedagogy and work on learning communities also led to a half-dozen related articles.

Dan had an astonishing range of interests and was capable of enthusiastic and insightful discussion about everything from Wallace Stevens to Thucydides to the Philadelphia Eagles. Many people, both at Temple and around the world, regularly woke up to find a long e-mail message from Dan composed at some odd hour during the night when he had become excited after reading an article about a subject that you had no idea was an concern of his. Such messages persisted to the end of his life.

He is survived by his wife Drew Humphries, his sister Tory Byrne, his daughter Tory Tompkins, and his grandson Tristan. 

Daniel Tompkins was a remarkable intellect, a terrific teacher, a tremendous colleague, and, most importantly, a great human being. May his memory be a blessing. 

Remembering Dan Tompkins, by Martha Davis, Associate Professor Emerita 

Most persons hearing about the death of Dan Tompkins will immediately regret the loss of continued research by him into the work of Thucydides and Finley. He was the expert par excellence in that. But his inquisitive mind ranged over a much wider territory, both of the ancient world and our modern one. He had a prodigious memory and read constantly, so his command of knowledge broadened continuously.

I remember his mastery of the field of Classics, but also his willingness to share what he knew. He answered my questions many times—patiently¬–and often brought me articles and information he knew I would be interested in. His comments for the listserv Classics-L were perceptive and could provoke lively discussion.

Dan was a good colleague and an outstanding chair of the department he founded. He never shrank from administrative duties and service to the university far beyond our department level. His many honors were well deserved. He pioneered in the development of the Freshman Interdisciplinary Studies Program and was almost solely responsible for creating and maintaining the Intellectual Heritage Program, both of which introduced beginning students to basic knowledge necessary for success in any major. 

From a personal standpoint, I thank him first of all that I was hired. He worked to see me through tenure, and I owe him much in the consideration of my own career. He thought it fun that our birthdays were very close together and did not forget to mark the days. The spoon rest on my kitchen counter in the shape of a fish was a small gift from him, one that reminds me daily of his thoughtfulness. He helped me move household—twice. Most of all, he cheered me up. Though I groaned loudly at his awful puns, they punctuated even the dreariest days with humor. The smell of his French press coffee still drifts through my memory of the department.

My own sorrow is great, so it is difficult even to imagine how his death has affected Drew and Tory and the rest of his family. Friends and acquaintances will miss him, and those who knew him only by his work will sense that an important voice is stilled. When we celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the Department of Greek and Roman Classics, we presented Dan with a medal. The inscription remains appropriate to this day for those who worked with him: Sine quo non.

CFP: 2023 AIMS International Online Conference

The 2023 Antiquity in Media Studies International Online Conference

Submission deadline: Friday, August 11, 2023

From “mirror of antiquity” to antiquities on screens:
shaping self, persona, society through media/ted encounters with imagined pasts

See the full CFP at our

Americas, UK, and EU

Friday-Saturday November 10-11 & 17-18: regular conferencing days

Monday-Thursday November 13-16: special events


Saturday-Sunday November 11-12 & 18-19: regular conferencing days

Tuesday-Friday November 14-17: special events

For our 2023 annual meeting, the conference committee of Antiquity in Media Studies invites contributions that engage with this year’s theme, whether through individual case studies, trend analysis, experimental processes, theoretical frameworks for broader inquiry, or creative interpretations. AIMS welcomes contributions from scholars, educators, and creatives that treat a wide variety of media, including but not limited to: the products and production of film, television, analog and video games, novels/genre fiction, fan fiction, comics, manga, anime, animation, fashion, music, theater, dance, cooking, and social media.

AIMS welcomes a variety of formats for the presentation of research, pedagogy, and creative responses to the reception of antiquity, including but not limited to: individual 20-minute papers, three-paper panels, roundtables, workshops, poster sessions, lightning sessions, play-throughs, live multi-player games, technical demonstrations, creative showcases, creator interviews, and other activities that can fit within a 60-90 minute time slot and be delivered remotely at this online conference. NOTE: Research papers will be pre-recorded and available with captioning in advance of the conference, while discussions of these papers will be live.

To submit proposals, please visit our website. AIMS is committed to creating an environment that supports participants of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and we encourage submissions from scholars, educators, and creatives from underrepresented backgrounds. Submissions are due by Friday, August 11.

Questions about the conference? Contact AIMS President Meredith Safran at

The Philadelphia Classical Society’s 84th annual Latin Week contests prove the longevity of Ancient Greece and Rome

On the last Saturday in April 2023, 420 guests of The Philadelphia Classical Society met for a congenial and celebratory luncheon event at The Drexelbrook in Drexel Hill.

The occasion’s purpose was to honor the academic year 2022-23 winners in the 84th Annual Latin Week contests held in February at The Haverford School.

Click here to read the article by Mary Brown

2023 ACL Merens Award winner – Ronnie Ancona

Click here to view the public release from the ACL (PDF)

Dr. Ronnie Ancona has received the 2023 Merens Award from the
American Classical League to recognize sustained and distinguished service to
the Classics profession generally and to ACL in particular.

Dr. Ancona has devoted herself to the profession for five decades, serving
close to four decades as a professor of Classics at Hunter College. Her list of
awards, committee participation, publications, and service is extensive and
highlights her commitment to pedagogy and increasing access through teacher
training, conference talks, and transitional readers for students. Dr. Ancona
served as the Editor of ACL’s The Classical Outlook from 2016 through 2022.
Both the Classical Association of Atlantic States and the Society for Classical
Studies have benefited from her leadership and sustained service. Ronnie
continues to support her students as they become professionals, by providing job
recommendations, professional networking, and opportunities to work on joint
endeavors. She has changed the lives of countless students.

The American Classical League, founded in 1919, celebrates, supports,
and advances the teaching and learning of the Greek and Latin languages,
literatures, and cultures, and their timeless relevance.

Emma Amos: Classical Legacies exhibition in NYC

When: July 10 – September 9, 2023

Where: RYAN LEE (515 W 26th St, 3rd Fl, New York, NY 10001)


RYAN LEE is pleased to announce Emma Amos: Classical Legacies, an exhibition of three paintings, six prints, and one cycle of epic monoprints by Emma Amos. The fourth solo presentation of Amos’s work—and sixth overall—at the gallery, the exhibition will focus on the classicist influence on Amos’s œuvre, a fresh take on her substantial body of work.

The exhibition will feature works ranging from 1966 to 2001 that demonstrate Amos’s longstanding interest in the antiquities. Amos would visit Rome as a child with her family, and her early exposure to Roman ruins and epics translated in her work, in which she frequently explored themes of longevity and deep histories within shifting times. Across the works presented at RYAN LEE this summer, Amos displays her deep interest in history, longevity and memory. By implementing themes from Greek and Roman antiquity in her work, Amos marries the wide and converging interests that informed her art for decades and reflected the breadth of her culture. Her incorporation of the ancient West in her work coopted the built-in pedigree connoted with these motifs, which she claimed as her own by right.

This will be the first time that Amos’s landmark Odyssey prints will be exhibited to the public in twenty years. Valerie J. Mercer wrote in an essay accompanying Amos’s major 1995 exhibition Emma Amos: Paintings and Prints, 1982-1992: “Because of the monumental scale of the prints, Odyssey can take up the spaces of a whole room when it is shown. The series focused on 100 years of the history of the artist’s family in Atlanta, from the period shortly after slavery up to the 1960s. It was inspired by the splendid collection of family photographs belonging to Amos’s parents and represents pride in her family and in their achievements.” 

The exhibition starts with Pompeii, made in 1960: a pivotal year for Amos. This marks her departure from her hometown of Atlanta for New York City, which is coincidentally the event that later capped her landmark, 10-panel Odyssey (1988). Equipped with the etching skills she learned at the Central School of Art in London, Pompeii exemplifies Amos’s early interest in rooting her works in ancient traditions. 

This interest resurfaces with her important Falling Figures paintings: a series that reverberates with anxiety, which Amos described as a response to a sense of “the impending loss of history, place, and people” among African Americans. This important work is capped by the monumental Flying Circus, in which Amos’s multi-toned figures are catapulted down a gesturally vivid background. Plummeting along with her are a wealth of Greek and Roman references: with the frightful loss of African American stories, along goes the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Coliseum, and the Circus Maximus. The resulting composition is an energetic meditation on memory, legends, and dissipating histories.

By incorporating her own weaving and African fabric in her paintings referencing Greek and Roman antiquity, Amos marries her converging interest in Black history and classical literature. In Way Away (1996), ancient Western symbolism becomes Black symbolism as well. Framed by the African fabrics that Amos frequently uses in her work, she carves herself a place within the Western canon: a mixed-race, Black minority within the Western world, she is just as much an inheritor of Homer, Hercules, and Circe as any of her peers.

Inspired by Homer’s epic poem, Odyssey serves as a counterbalance to Amos’s anxious Falling Figures series by unflinchingly inscribing her own family history in the ranks of the legendary. With this series of ten hand-painted monoprints, the artist and her proud Georgian heritage is never to be forgotten.

Emma Amos: Classical Legacies will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Michele Valerie Ronnick, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Wayne State University; and Gabriella Shypula, PhD Candidate in Art History and Criticism at Stony Brook University.