24 February 2009

RIP William Harris

I have learned through Nick, who learned from Harris' son, that Bill Harris died last Sunday, February 22nd.

I got to know Bill from his web site, Humanities and the Liberal Arts. I had just started to study Greek on my own again, and stumbled on his web page, probably looking for sites about Homer. I emailed him about a stray link in May 2000, and we corresponded ever since, sometimes very regularly, sometimes with quiet spots. It was a casual comment by him that led to the creation of Aoidoi.org — I still have the email, July 10, 2002. From that time on we communicated regularly about our own web sites, sharing new work for the other's comment. Without his enthusiasm about the project — there's a lot of email between us about it — Aoidoi.org might have faded away early.

I know that plenty of other people have been encouraged in their studies by him.

His death is a shock to me, the tears coming only today, because we had been mailing each other about some of his work only a few weeks ago. 83, about to start his second round of chemo, and he had been recording himself reciting verse — Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas — and was intending to record some Sappho, in both English and Greek. He was always interested in getting verse off the page and into people's mouths, in whatever language. Last month was the first time I ever heard his voice.

I hadn't told him about the Scholiastae.org site yet, because I wanted to be able to show him a success, after a few more people got involved and posted things, taking control of their own education. That site, too, wouldn't exist but for him. I should have told him sooner.

1 comment:

May said...

Death always comes unexpectedly.
I am sorry for your friend.