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  • From the Editor
  • Noel Lenski

With this issue, we bid farewell to one of the most storied figures of late antique studies, Alan Cameron, who died July 31, 2017 at the age of 79 in New York. None of us who study the field can claim to be without debt to him. I remember well my first encounter with Cameron in his Manhattan home where he had invited me to discuss Synesius of Cyrene as I considered the possibility of embarking on a dissertation related to the De regno and the state of Gothic relations in the crucial years around 400 ce. Together with Jackie Long, Alan had just completed Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius (California 1993) and was kind enough to share the proofs with me as it was going into press. I was, of course flattered by his interest in me and my work, and was soon mesmerized by his latest magic. Once having read it, however, I could see there was little more I could add to the question – and I moved on. Yet our friendship continued over the years as we shared offprints and ideas, from which I surely learned much more than he. Indeed, whenever we would meet, I always felt as if I were in the presence of some otherworldly genius, for much though Cameron was very human, always personable and ready with a smile and a joke, his encyclopedic knowledge and razor-sharp wit lifted him to a different plane than mere mortals.

Cameron entered the field direct from his degree in Literae Humaniores at New College Oxford in 1961. After sixteen years researching and teaching in Glasgow and London, he joined the faculty at Columbia University in 1977, and there he remained until his retirement in 2008. He was part of the charmed generation, steeped in the Classics early but also inspired by the innovative spirit of the 1960s that first opened the field of Late Antiquity to modern eyes.

It would be nearly impossible to summarize adequately his bibliography, which stretched to more than 200 articles and some nine books, covering a range of subjects from Hellenistic poetry to Byzantine social history. Already with his first book on Claudian: Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Arcadius (Oxford Clarendon, 1970) he showed how close reading can open the marquetry box of late Latin poetry in such a way as to afford us a view of the political and cultural history it has tucked away inside. Within six years he had published two more classics in the field, Porphyrius the Charioteer (Oxford Clarendon, 1973) and Circus Factions: Blues and Greens at Rome and Byzantium (Oxford Clarendon, 1976). Both treated a subject that had gone largely unnoticed up to that day with such clarity and cleverness that the spectacle industry of Late Antiquity—as indeed of earlier ages as well—has [End Page 295] become a staple of contemporary ancient studies. Following his book on Synesius, Cameron turned to one of his other great loves, Hellenistic poetry, and quickly produced two more books, on Callimachus and the Hellenistic Anthology, showing that both corpora were preserved, transmitted, and in some sense even constructed in a Byzantine literary environment.

Cameron was also a master of the article, publishing some of the most insightful and influential thematic studies in the field, many of them the length of short monographs. Some of the most important are collected in his Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy (Oxford 2016), reviewed in the first issue of this volume. These include famous studies such as "Wandering Poets: A Literary Movement in Byzantine Egypt," which explores the free-flow of Hellenophone litterateurs across the Mediterranean and particularly toward the Latin West; and "The Empress and the Poet," a spicy exposé of the Aelia Eudocia and her tragi-comic travails. His studies on late Roman diptychs, the last of which is published in this issue, are abundant and substantial enough to constitute a monograph unto themselves and include definitive investigations such as "The Origin, Context and Function of Consular Diptychs" (Journal of Roman Studies 2013) and "City Personifications and Consular Diptychs" (Journal of Roman...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1942-1273
Print ISSN
1939-6716
Pages
pp. 295-299
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-02
Open Access
No
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