Stephen G. Daitz

Stephen died June 19, 2014 at home. He was Professor Emeritus of the Department of Classical Languages and Hebrew at The City College and the CUNY Graduate Center. His principal interest was the oral reading of ancient Greek and Latin, with great attention given to the "restored pronunciation" of those languages as well as the metrics of their poetry. Silent reading had no place in the study of the Classics, he maintained; their literature was composed to be recited aloud. He recorded the entire Iliad and Odyssey, Euripides' Hekabe, Aristophanes' Birds, Plato's Portrait of Sokrates, as well as selections of ancient Greek poetry and oratory. His recordings, made between 1978 and 1998, are still available from Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, as are those teaching the pronunciation and reading of Ancient Greek and Classical Latin. He gave recitals and workshops at universities and scholarly meetings throughout North America and Europe as well as in Australia and Argentina. In 1999 his recital of Greek literature was presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of the newly restored halls displaying ancient Greek art. He was the first president of SORGLL, the Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature (see their web site). A group of students and teachers studied the Homeric hexameter with him on Saturday mornings in his Upper West Side apartment. Stephen Daitz's education at Yale, the Sorbonne, and Harvard initially lead him to the publication of critical editions, but his love of music underpinned his resuscitation of the sounds of Classical literature. He taught at CUNY from 1957 to 1991 and at the University of Paris in 1971-73 and 1979-80. His teaching at the Ecole Normale Superieure inspired the creation of Theatre Demodocos, which presents staged productions of Classical drama in the original language. A confirmed Francophile, he spoke French at home, teaching all his children to speak the language. A lifelong outdoorsman, reaching the summits of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc were among his proudest achievements. He spent forty-five summers at Great East Lake in Acton, Maine, near New Hampshire's White Mountains, where he enjoyed hikes with family and friends. Stephen Daitz was born on August 16, 1926 in New York City. He is survived by his wife, Mimi S. Daitz of New York City, his son Maurice and daughter-in-law Sharon Jaycox Daitz of Scarsdale, NY, his son Benjamin of New York City and Gardiner, NY, and his sister, Sonia Lazar of Culver City, CA. He was predeceased by his daughter, Francesca. A memorial gathering will be held Sunday, afternoon, September 21, 2014, place to be announced.