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Stanford Report, May 12, 1999

Classics Professor Antony Raubitschek dies; memorial service Wednesday afternoon

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, May 12, for Antony E. Raubitschek, professor emeritus of classics and a scholar of international reputation. He died May 7 at his home in Palo Alto at age 86. The service will be at 4 p.m. in St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Palo Alto.

Born in Vienna in 1912, Raubitschek was one of a generation of European classical scholars who came to their maturity after World War I and were widely known for their expertise in ancient languages, literature, history and philosophy. Raubitschek additionally was noted for his mastery of epigraphy and archaeology.

Among his key achievements is his study of the Acropolis dedications, a milestone in the development of archaeological epigraphy; another is the intellectual and moral influence he exerted, by his tireless care and attention, on generation after generation of students.

Raubitschek began his studies at the University of Vienna. During a year-long visit to Athens in 1934-35, he met members of the Austrian and German archaeological institutes in that city and began to develop an interest in the inscriptions found on the Acropolis. On his return to Vienna, however, he chose to write his dissertation on the Latin poet Lucretius, noting his intellectual debt to the Greek tradition of the Epicureans.

Raubitschek returned to Athens as a member of the Austrian Institute. When Austria was annexed to the Third Reich, the American epigrapher Benjamin Meritt invited Raubitschek to spend a year at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where Meritt was editing the inscriptions that were being unearthed by the American excavations in the Athenian Agora. On his way to America, Raubitschek stopped in London and met the English epigrapher Lillian Jeffrey. They began a scholarly collaboration that resulted in 1949 in the volume Dedications from the Athenian Akropolis, his most important and enduring publication.

At the Institute for Advanced Study, from 1938 to 1942, Raubitschek developed an interest in early Christian epitaphs, which he published in 1947. There he also became reacquainted with Isabelle Kelly, whom he had met in Athens while she was doing research at the American School of Classical Studies for her doctorate at Columbia. They married in 1941, beginning a lifelong professional and personal collaboration.

After teaching at Yale between 1942 and 1947, Raubitschek returned to Princeton University as associate professor in 1947. In 1963 he moved to Stanford as professor of classics, and in 1974 he was appointed Sadie Dernham Patek Professor of Humanities. Isabelle was appointed to the faculty of the Art Department, and for many years their Palo Alto home was a magnet for scholars and students from throughout the world.

In addition to his ongoing research and publication, Raubitschek directed a large number of doctoral dissertations at Stanford. But colleagues said his greatest joy came from his undergraduate students. His wide range of knowledge and personal charm made him a beloved and influential teacher. He was honored for this work with both the Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching and the dean's award for superior teaching. His large courses on topics such as "Ancient Politics" and "Classical Athletics" enabled him to share his enthusiasm for classical culture with a wide range of students.

One of his special interests involved studying and teaching about classical antecedents to American political thought, and especially the influence of the classics on America's founding fathers. At the time of his death he was analyzing the writings of John Quincy Adams, their foundations in classical learning and their implications for the formation and growth of the American Republic.

Throughout his life Raubitschek maintained a vast correspondence with scholars from around the world. He was a visiting professor at many institutions, and he received honors in several countries. In March the president of Austria awarded him the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, the highest honor given by the Austrian government to a private citizen.

Isabelle Raubitschek died in 1988, and Raubitschek devoted much time and energy to seeing through to publication (in 1998) her major scholarly work on the metal objects found in the excavations at Isthmia in Greece.

The couple's joint interests included the classical holdings of the Stanford Museum. Many of those works were purchased by Leland Stanford shortly after the death of his son to serve as the inaugural collection for the museum that he and Jane Stanford planned to build as part of their memorial to their son. The collection was maintained by Hazel Hansen until her death in 1962, at which time the Raubitscheks came to Stanford and continued her work for many years.

Classics Professor Marsh McCall says that when he came to Stanford in the mid-1970s, Raubitschek was "already emeritus and already a legendary figure. He's been my revered colleague for a quarter century," McCall says, referring to Raubitschek as "the great intellectual link to the earlier part of this century and to the great continental German tradition of classical scholarship."

McCall, dean of continuing studies, added that Raubitschek was one of the first faculty members to step forward to teach in that program when it was founded 11 years ago. "He probably has taught more continuing ed courses than any other person," McCall says. When Raubitschek became too frail to go into the classroom, many of his continuing studies students from various classes encouraged him to teach them from his home, which he did until a few weeks before his death. "He never stopped giving of himself."

Raubitschek is survived by his four children: John of Alexandria, Va.; Kleia Luckner of Toledo, Ohio; Marita Hopmann of Arlington, Va.; and Andrew of San Marino, Calif.; and by seven grandchildren.

Contributions may be made in his memory to the Stanford Classics Department, and will be used to support student travel abroad. SR