A. Thomas Cole
Professor of Classics
Tom Cole, A.B., Ph.D. Harvard University, faculty member at Yale since 1964, your legendary talents as a linguist were observed early in your career at Harvard, where other freshmen gifted at Latin or Greek envied you as already doctus utriusque linguae. In later years that early ambidexterity flourished to the great benefit of the Yale Classics department, where alone among your colleagues you have regularly taught on both the Greek and Latin side: poetry, metrics, rhetoric, philosophy, and historiography. Known throughout the world for the range, concise argumentation and originality of your scholarship, it wouldn’t be going too far to say that yours is a household name among Classicists. Every specialist in Greek philosophy knows your book Democritus and the Sources of Greek Anthropology; every Pindarist knows your Pindar’s Feasts; every metrician your Epiploke. And even undergraduate classicists are likely to notice that virtually all treatments of Greek rhetoric written after 1990 address the iconoclastic thesis you put forward in The Origins of Rhetoric in Ancient Greece.
Prized in Phelps Hall for your prodigious learning, your irony, your powerful logic, and your profound knowledge of ancient and modern cultures, you have also been valued for the modesty and courtesy of your manner, and for the indefatigable attention you have devoted to your students’ research and to your department’s business. Generations of bemused New Haven residents have known you as the alarmingly abstracted bicyclist of Whitney Avenue, or as the all-weather jogger with the beatific smile and the plastic bag that serves as your briefcase. True learning, originality of thought, and high intellectual integrity are rare. You have all three. As you retire, your admiring colleagues in the Yale faculty send you off with gratitude for bringing both lux et veritas to its ranks.
Tribute Editor: Penelope Laurans