Memorial Service for Michael H. Jameson

Michael H. Jameson


15 October 1924 – 18 August 2004

Memorial Church


Stanford University
20 October 2004

The Jameson family thanks all those who participated in the memorial service, as well as the friends who wrote before and after the service. Special thanks are due to Mike’s Stanford colleague Maud Gleason, who worked over a period of two months on the preparation of all aspects of the service.


Contents of This Page:


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Program and Selected Texts

Click on one of the highlighted parts of the program to see (part of) the text that was spoken.
Organ PreludeRobert Huw Morgan, University Organist
WelcomeRabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann, Senior Associate Dean for Religious Life
Family Remembrance Nick Jameson
Reflections by Stanford ColleaguesMark Edwards


Ian Morris
O Maria, tu dulcis
Chiara Margarita Cozzolani
Ruth Escher, soprano
John Dornenburg, viola da gamba
Robert Huw Morgan, continuo organ
Remembrances by
Colleagues From
Other Universities
Jim Dengate and Christina Dengate, University of Illinois
Mariko Sakurai, University of Tokyo
Ron Stroud, University of California at Berkeley
Bist du bei mir
Johann Sebastian Bach
or Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel
Ruth Escher
John Dornenburg
Robert Huw Morgan
Reading of Brief TributesKyle Lakin
Trinity Jackman
Bill Tieman
Margaret Butler
Closing WordsRabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann
Organ PostludeRobert Huw Morgan

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Welcome by Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann

Job teaches, “When a wise person dies, how can he be replaced? There is a source for silver, and a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth and copper is smelted from the rock. But where can wisdom be found? Where is the source of understanding? When a wise person dies, how can he be replaced?” (Job  28:1–2, 12)

Michael Jameson was a consummate professor, chairman, dean and excavation director. His wisdom influenced an academic discipline as well as students and colleagues. But for all his wisdom and learning, he will be remembered best as a friend—a man with deep learning but no academic snobbery, a tireless reader of works-in-progress and writer of letters of recommendation, the best possible mentor. Michael Jameson embodied the Talmudic understanding, “from all of my students I have learned”. This gathering in his honor is our attempt at reciprocity—a recognition of all that Michael Jameson’s students, colleagues, family, and friends learned from him.

Michael Jameson pioneered excavating underwater. He embodied the Proverbs text, “As in water, face answers to face, so in the heart of human to human.” Face answered to face in his every interaction—face answered to face with Greek villagers, with whom he schmoozed and broke bread. It is no surprise that his most famous find came from drinking with the locals. Face answered to face with colleagues, who were preparing to celebrate his 80th birthday this month in Athens celebrating his contributions to the field. Face answered to face with his beloved Virginia, who after nearly 6 decades of shared exploration, excavation and affirmation, could appear in her yellow raincoat with droplets of water on it and elicit Mike’s reflection that she still recalls the “beauty of a spring flower.”

This afternoon, we gather to honor and thank Michael Jameson for all that this steadfast, loyal, slightly whimsical, irreverent, and devoted man brought forth. Although he was not a religious man, as a student of religious ritual, Mike would understand that what we are engaged in today is a ritual of closure, an acknowledgement and an appreciation of what he gave to this community, to his family, to his discipline and to his friends. We will hear several tributes and invite others of you who have anecdotes and reflections to share them later as we mingle at the Faculty Club.


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Family Remembrance by Nick Jameson

Several weeks ago, my Dad told me about an idea he had for a short story, in which a man fakes his own death so that he can sneak into his memorial service and hear all the wonderful things his friends and relatives say about him. Well, he pulls off the fake death all right, but once he’s safely disguised and ensconced in the back row of his memorial service, he is appalled to hear friend after friend after relative after person he’s never met in his life get up and say the most appalling things about him. At which point he comes storming down the aisle, raining the wrath of the—as Monty Python would say—Not Quite Dead upon all and sundry.

Remembering this, I was tempted to get up here and say a bunch of rotten things about my dear old Dad, in the hope that he might grace us with his presence, but Dad was nothing if not a realist, so I shall stick to the truth. Which, as we know, is that Michael Hamilton Jameson was a wonderful and remarkable man.

The original sense of humor evident in that story may surprise some of you who knew him as a very serious scholar and teacher. And in fact he was a serious man who did not suffer fools gladly, and it was a source of some annoyance to him that by infecting me at an early age with his secret love of humor, he turned me into the court jester of the family. By making me a Pogo fan, he created a monster who for weeks at a time would communicate with him only in the dialect of the Okeefenokee. As a result of enamoring me of his favorite radio program, the Goon Show, with its cast of insane characters, he found himself sitting down to dinner with all thirty-two of them every night. And I’m sure he kicked himself for giving me Brendan Behan’s autobiography when I’d answer his questions about school with colorful epithets and rebel songs from the North of Ireland.

He was keen to have me follow in his footsteps and be a brilliant academic; unfortunately his love of music was contagious, and I quit high school to become a rock and roller. I was reminded last month of this devotion to music while sorting through some of his boxes. I discovered three hundred cassette tapes of recordings he’d made off the radio, all meticulously numbered and cataloged, albeit in his indecipherable handwriting. Now I don’t feel odd for having spent years doing the same thing. Perhaps there’s a gene for that type of activity.

I guess I should clarify that Mike and his wife of 58 years, Virginia, had four sons, of which I’m the eldest, followed by Anthony, John and Dave, in chronological order. Although we spent most of our youth in Philadelphia, my brothers and I were fortunate to have spent many years in Europe as a result of Dad’s work, most memorably living in Italy for 15 months and another 15 in Greece. This was undoubtedly a cause of my coming to share Dad’s love of languages and dialects; in fact, I now make my living as an actor, playing characters who speak in a wide variety of accents. Dad enjoyed this, and, being half-Jewish, was, I believe, secretly proud that his eldest, though not a doctor, played one on TV quite regularly.

Some of the best times I had with my Dad in recent years were spent enjoying things peculiar to our tastes, such as spending hours watching Chinese soap operas (sans subtitles) and listening to recordings of the Peking street vendors he heard in his boyhood, which was spent in Peking. Once again, this became an addiction for me.

In addition to his love of other languages, Dad was also very precise in his use of his native tongue. About a year ago he said “You know, Nick, I’m not going to Pass Away. Nor am I going to Pass On. And I’m definitely not going to Pass. (He said this last with clear disapproval of its ungrammatical and illiterate sound.) “I’m not going to do any of those things. I’m going to Die.” I said something along the lines of “Well, Dad, that’s certainly a reasonable choice of terminology. It follows Strunk and White’s admonition to prefer the simple and direct to the prolix phrase; it would please Korzybski with its unambiguity, and it’s Socratic in its acceptance of one’s ultimate fate. However, I hope you won’t be doing it any time soon.”

Unfortunately for us, he did do it sooner than we would have liked. And so here we are, Mike, to say we love you and we miss you very much; and, speaking for myself, if you have a problem with anything I’ve said, please feel free to come storming down the aisle to set me straight.


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Reflection by Mark Edwards, Stanford University

Since I came to Stanford 36 years ago, I have attended memorial services for a number of Classics Department scholars who enjoyed an international and long-enduring reputation: those of T. B. L. Webster, Hermann Fränkel, Lionel Pearson, and most recently Toni Raubitschek. Now Michael Jameson joins that distinguished company.

In the mid-1970’s the Stanford Classics Department faced a host of problems. From its group of senior professors, Brooks Otis had left for North Carolina in 1970, John Herington left for Yale in 1972, Lionel Pearson retired in 1973, and T. B. L. Webster died in 1974. This left Toni Raubitschek and myself as the only full professors in a Department with a graduate program which had been, up to that point, highly regarded. To make matters worse, in the spring of 1974 three assistant professors were denied tenure, and morale among the graduate students dropped very low indeed. There was an urgent need for immediate rebuilding.

With his usual resourcefulness, Toni suggested that we should approach Michael Jameson, who was then at Penn. Even to a literary person like me the name invoked a famous and somewhat daunting figure. Everyone at that time knew of his discovery of the Themistocles Decree (besides in the usual classical organs, I had seen it written up in Scientific American). But of course we made overtures and brought Mike and Virginia out to Stanford to meet the Department and the Stanford authorities. All went very well; I was nervous about whether our invitation to join us would be accepted—we were a long way from the East coast—but I was heartened by Mike’s obvious awareness of the change from the cold, damp slush of Philadelphia in January to bright, sunny days in the Bay Area. I became almost optimistic when, before his departure, I drove him and Virginia up to stay for a few days with friends of theirs in Tiburon, where the view across the bay was absolutely at its best. It worked, and Mike accepted our offer and came here in 1976. In the same year we made another full professorial appointment, that of Marsh McCall, and the Department was back on its feet and moving forward. I remember we gleefully sent out a printed card to all the Classics Departments we could think of announcing our achievement, and the Dean took me out to dinner to celebrate.

Mike’s arrival meant a great deal to us. In the first place, he brought us honor, for his distinction in epigraphy, history, and archaeology. His connections with practical archaeology were particularly important, as its former representatives here, Hazel Hanson and Ted Doyle, had died in 1962 and 1966 respectively, and despite their immense knowledge of ancient art Toni and Isabelle Raubitschek were not personally involved with excavations. We already had the funding to send people to Greece and Rome: For that purpose we had the Fund set up in memory of Ted Doyle in 1968; and in 1972 we had gotten our hands on the Tresidder Fund for Stanford in Greece, both of which Mike made use of later on when he began involving our students in his archaeological projects.

Besides this, Mike’s interests, like Toni’s, covered a very wide range—not only Greek history, epigraphy and archaeology but Greek religion and many aspects of Greek literature, especially epic and tragedy. In a small department like ours this was essential, both for undergraduate and graduate teaching. For nearly thirty years Mike’s presence was immensely valuable to our graduates, our undergraduates, to his colleagues, and in our departmental counsels. And beyond our local concerns, he was always willing to play his part in wider university activities, such as lecturing in the various freshman programs and serving on administrative committees, including a prestigious advisory committee to the Dean of Humanities and Sciences.

One of the many good things about Mike’s presence in our Department was his excellent relationship with Toni Raubitschek. Not all Toni’s colleagues found him easy to get along with, but Mike not only had no problem but took trouble to make the most of Toni’s immense store of knowledge about archaeology and archaeologists, past and present. Often in recent years I would go into the Emeriti office and find them deep in conversation, and have a chance to hear anecdotes about giants of the past. And Mike took the trouble to collect some of Toni’s reminiscences on a cassette recorder. I am sure the easy collaboration between them over the 25-odd years they were in this Department together contributed a lot to the research and vision of them both, and of course was passed along to generations of graduate students. In a way this association was celebrated in the big gathering of alumni and other scholars which Mike organized here for Toni’s 70th birthday in 1983, and the publication of the papers in 1985.

Mike’s other colleagues benefitted too. A few days ago I had a message from Susan Treggiari, his colleague here for many years, in which she said:

“What I remember most is his generous interest in other people (shown in his and Virginia’s hospitality to current students, former students, colleagues), the care which he took before pronouncing judgement, his inability to blow his own trumpet. I remembered his impact on Greek history from the time when I was an undergraduate, but the full extent of his work was only gradually revealed to me when I became his colleague, and the tributes which poured out at his death have told me many things I did not know. He was a great scholar and a great human being. I am grateful for the support, kindness and understanding and intellectual stimulus he gave me.”

I particularly remember one of my own personal encounters with Mike’s scholarship. After I had drafted an account of the pictures on the Shield of Achilles for the Cambridge Iliad Commentary, I asked him to look it over, as there was a certain amount there about farming and herding, in which of course I knew he was an expert. It came back, to my relief, with only the suggestion that I might incorporate a note he attached, which he had obviously made a long time before—it came on a flimsy scrap of paper, partly typed and partly handwritten, both in English and in Greek, and as as usual with Mike’s handwriting it wasn’t easy to determine which was which. I eventually made out that it was the insight that the word choanos in the description of Hephaestus’ forge, previously taken by commentators, translators and LSJ to mean “crucible”, really meant “the nozzle through which the blast of air is forced”. The evidence he quoted showed that this is obviously right, and I gratefully incorporated the point into my commentary, knowing that this would surely be a permanent advance of our knowledge.

A few nights after I returned from England and heard of Mike’s death I happened to watch a TV program about the delights of visiting modern Greece. It reminded me of all the pleasure I had had there, and it made me feel how happy Mike must have been to have spent so much time in that lovely country—as well as in England, Japan, Russia, and the other countries he had visited. I hoped that he had also found a lot of enjoyment in his years at Stanford, where whatever we had been able to give to him, he has very amply repaid. His legacy will always be with us.


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Remembrances by Jim and Christina Dengate, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jim Dengate:

I first met Mike Jameson in the Fall of 1963. Unfortunately, death took him shortly before the fortieth anniversary of the day when he introduced me to my future wife Christina. But not before he had finished those parts of the Halieis excavations that only he could write while leaving drafts of the rest of his contributions in a state that can be finished. We wish he had lived to complete it all. Mike’s clear thinking and solid grasp of the facts will be much missed by those of us working on the Halieis excavation publications. Mike was my professor, mentor, and friend whom I shall continue to miss. Mike first introduced me to Christina, my future wife. Later we met again at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and would ultimately become one of the numerous American School matches—one encouraged by Mike and Virginia who were there that same year in 1965.

Mike was a real pioneer in two areas of archaeological research: shallow water archaeology and regional site survey. He and Virginia had started work in the southern Argolid with their epigraphical and topographical survey of the Hermionid while they were students at the American School in 1950. Beginning with a traditional approach, Mike then went on to extend the archaeological survey to all periods of human activity and to try to interpret the evidence for human interaction with the environment since the Southern Argolid was first inhabited by human beings. In 1958 Mike discovered a palaeolithic flaked tool, the first to be identified from the Argolid and with Percy Bailor investigated pleistocene caves in the region near where he had found that tool. Mike worked with Greek and French colleagues in that study, beginning a pattern that would continue in his later archaeological work. Also in his later excavations Mike always tried to include the training of future Greek archaeologists as well as those from North America and other European countries.

Mike encouraged Tom Jacobsen to begin excavations at the neolithic Franchthi cave, which subsequently produced unprecedented mesolithic and paleolithic remains deep below the surface of the cave. The Stanford survey would discover a number of other stone-age sites in the area. The three survey volumes—with the fourth expected shortly—are a testament to Mike’s early support of site survey archeology and to the value of this kind of regional approach both archaeologically and anthropologically.

When Mike and Virginia first investigated Halieis they observed that about a quarter of the best land for habitation inside the fortification walls was now under the waters of Porto Cheli bay. In 1965 Mike invited divers who had worked in shipwreck archaeology, David Owen and Frank Frost, to begin to record the visible remains of the town in the sea along the modern shore. The divers found very limited visibility in the harbor whenever they moved around in the bottom mud and silt. Therefore, through the years Mike adapted innovations in deep sea ship wreck exploration to better record the remains in the shallow waters of Porto Cheli bay. The Galeazzi nozzle allowed mud to be hosed off the wall foundations while the invention of underwater paper allowed us to write permanent records as we excavated.

In the end, we were able to excavate correctly gridded trenches in five centimeter passes with measurements and elevations just about as accurate as those done with traditional land excavation techniques. The discovery of the temple of Apollo in the bay about a half kilometer north of Halieis benefited greatly from Mikes willingness every season to adapt new and better recording techniques.

As an excavation director Mike always worked at every job from lifting heavy irrigation pipes to digging a trench himself. He was the sole excavator of the Industrial Terrace just below the Halieis acropolis in 1962 and 1965 but still managed to fill in for others in their trenches when sickness kept them out of the field. In 1966 and thereafter he agreed to substitute and spend more of his time with the directorial responsibilities. Still he came to the field every day that he could and continued to excavate daily during all the undersea work.

Mike had a very active mind, constantly thinking up new questions and possible answers. This sometimes made him impatient with the slow day-to-day work of field archaeology. He would keep his excavation records but also wander around picking up unusual or interesting things nearby. Although this made assimilating his finds into the excavation records difficult, his discoveries outside the trenches would often turn out to be important. For example he found fragments (and later we excavated whole ones) of partially baked bricks in the Sanctuary of Apollo. We still have not completely interpreted these strange objects and they remain very unusual at an ancient Greek site.

Post-excavation study found Mike’s agile mind producing idea after idea. He would prune some, accept others provisionally, and change them yet again when new evidence was found. Mike continued to teach me and help me through the years, and I will miss interactions with him. What Halieis publications of his remain in preliminary form will appear in print. The individual stamp of perfection that he always gave to his scholarship may be missing. But Mike’s inspiring leadership will endure.

Christina Dengate:

I first met Mike Jameson in the Spring of 1965, when he came to my college to give a lecture about his new excavation in Greece. I was introduced to him and in turn he introduced me to one of his graduate students, Jim Dengate. At the time I cared only about Greek literature and had little interest in archaeology. The lecture seemed to be all about mud brick and the slides showed bleak windswept trenches. “Who would want to do that kind of work?”, I thought.

Little did I know that I had just seen my future—the site that would occupy me for decades to come, my husband to be, and Mike, teacher and friend for nearly forty years.

A few months later, I was a student at the American School in Athens and there was Mike, a visiting professor for a year, and there was that graduate student. The following summer, Mike invited me to join the excavation at Halieis, ostensibly to inventory the finds and tend the excavation house, in reality because he was playing cupid to a young couple.

The connection continued. Jim and I returned to Halieis for several seasons after our marriage and both of us became increasingly involved in working with the excavation material. What most impressed me about Mike as archaeologist was that he never asked anyone to do a job that he wasn’t willing to do himself. Which explains the early Halieis photographs. Mike and Jim (who had a camera and a tripod) undertook the photographic record of the small finds. A typical picture of pottery sherds shows one leg of the tripod, a hand holding a crumpled sheet of tin foil to cast light, a foot on a beautifully detailed terrazzo floor, and, in the middle distance, some black spots, the sherds themselves. As more funding became available to the excavation, actual photography students were brought in and the pictures improved. But had the excavation continued on the shoestring budget of its earliest days, Mike would have continued to pitch in, improvise, and make do.

Up until just a few weeks before his death, Mike and I were corresponding about the chapters he was writing for the Halieis series. The last chapter he completed contains a brilliant clarification of the confused data about the changing sea level at Halieis in antiquity. This was a difficult subject, comprising observations from various people at various times, full of technical language and some contradictions. It is typical of Mike that he was able to spin this straw into gold, to take the muddle and produce a concise useful statement about the findings. It is also impressive that his work near the end of his life was as crisp and clear as all that went before.

Mike was not only a fine scholar but also a kind and responsible human being. I should be very disillusioned about the academic world in general. After all, I have been a faculty wife for thirty-some years and have seen much feuding, and back-stabbing, much arrogance and pomposity among those who supposedly lead the ideal contemplative life. But Mike rose above this. He was never pretentious, always egalitarian (“Please don’t call me Professor or Doctor Jameson,” he told me. “I’m Mike.”) He did not manipulate for power or position, he worked hard at teaching well, he gave steadfast support to his students. This quotation is often applied to venerable scholars—Mike is one of those who truly lived it. “Gladly would he learn and gladly teach.”


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Reading of Brief Tributes

Paul Harvey, Pennsylvania State University:

Mike Jameson was a scholar of breadth, unusual vision, and profound integrity. He made his prominent mark not only on several significant fields of Greek history, literature, archaeology, and epigraphy, but also on the profession in general by his administrative expertise. Perhaps most importantly, he was, for me (as, I know, for many others), one of the most inspiring scholar-teachers I have ever met.

Jody Maxmin, Stanford University:

My first sight of Mike was in the Ashmolean Library as Thanksgiving 1971 approached. He was on sabbatical, living with Virginia in north Oxford on Hamilton Avenue, and I was in my first year of graduate school. With his trademark radar, he managed to detect who was far from home, who needed an invitation to Thanksgiving, who could use an introduction to a group of other freaks overseas. That Thanksgiving gathering was key to getting to know Mike and Virginia, as well as a wonderful group of people from all over the world, people I continue to be in touch with, and the first of many times in which Mike and Virginia offered Greek hospitality (philoxenia) no matter where they were, whether in north Oxford, West Philadelphia, Mike’s office at the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge or Palo Alto.

Robert Parker, Oxford University:

Many of those who have paid tribute to Michael Jameson’s scholarship have stressed its range, the way in which he brought together information and ideas and approaches from many disciplines and sub-disciplines. What seemed to me so exemplary in him was the taken-for-grantedness, so to speak, of this multidisciplinarity: he did not make a great issue of it, and when faced with a sacrificial calendar he just seemed to regard it as obvious that one should be equally interested in, for instance, the technical problems of establishing readings, the situation of the stockrearers who supplied the animals, and the nature of sacrifice as a means of establishing communication between man and god.

Riet van Bremen, University of London:

I met Mike Jameson and Virginia for the first time in the summer of 1984 .... He and Virginia invited me over to their small terraced Cambridge house and I remember well sitting outside in the tiny courtyard eating watercress sandwiches. They were extremely nice to me and, without hesitating, he offered me the use of his office on the Stanford campus during my visit (while he was still in Europe). I was extremely grateful for his kindness to a young, unknown colleague.

Victor Davis Hanson, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University:

Mike was a masterful prose stylist, something often not recognized in the academic world. His articles are beautifully written, and he taught me from his style that scholars should seek to write well. He did, and that too has made a profound impression on dozens of his students. I will miss him, both his wide-ranging conversations and his perfectly crafted prose.

Cynthia Patterson, Emory University:

It has taken some time for me to think of Mike as “Mike”. To a young graduate student entering the Ancient History Program at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971, he was Professor Jameson, whose seminars were rigorous, demanding, and a bracing introduction to the distinctive Jameson brand of ancient history, informed by language and literature, archaeology and anthropology. The classes were memorable—but so were the Jameson parties at the grand house in Germantown with its large hospitable rooms and its very special hostess. I remember one evening in particular: In the middle of a conversation about Plato with my husband Richard (a graduate student in Philosophy) Professor Jameson asked whether he knew the work of a certain Plato scholar from a central Armenian university who had published a “Complete System of Dispensational Truth”. Our director of graduate studies then found the book on the shelf and began to “perform” the Armenian text with dramatic verve and energy. It was all or mostly fake, of course—and one of the funniest stand up comic acts I have seen.

Martin Ostwald, Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania:

I remember an excited telephone call from him one dreary Sunday afternoon in February of 1960, which began with the question: “What would you say if I told you that I have Themistocles’ mobilization decree for the battle of Salamis in front of me?” My expression of disbelief and doubt resulted in an invitation to come right over to his house to join him in looking at a document that he had seen in Troezen the previous summer and copied for further study at home. Within half an hour I was at his house in Rosemont. After we had pored over the document for several hours, his enthusiasm and rigor of argument had proved contagious and convinced me that I was privileged to witness the discovery of a new document that would change our perception of a seminal point in Greek history.

Brent Shaw, University of Pennsylvania:

In the years I was at Cambridge, I had occasion to meet him at least once every year that he came over. I cannot remember who it was who introduced me to him, but it surely must have been Finley—and why on earth he thought that one lonely Canadian graduate student would be worthy of Michael Jameson’s valuable time, I cannot say. But every year, he would phone, come to pick me up in a car he had and take me out to some perfectly wonderful pub that he had discovered in the heart of rural Cambridgeshire and treat me to an equally wonderful lunch over which we would discuss all species and types of problems in ancient history. “If I could only be like him”, I remember myself thinking ....

Helene Foley, Barnard College:

On the personal side, Mike and I shared a passion for gardens and plants. He introduced me to herbs and other plants that he had grown to love in Greece. His own place was full of them. I found myself envying all those archaeological walking trips he had taken in Greece, meeting those plants in their original context. Through Mike, the Greece I had encountered through books or trips as a tourist became a vivid world in which people gathered and farmed and inhabited their houses in concrete specificity.

Mark Alonge, Stanford University:

Ever since I got to Stanford, I have been a keen admirer of Mike, but over the last year, as I got to work with him more closely and immerse myself in his work, he became one of my most important intellectual heroes. I’ve taken his breadth of interest and accomplishment as a model for my own academic career.


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Closing Words by Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann

Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya teaches, “When our learning exceeds our deeds, we are like trees whose branches are many but whose roots are few: The wind comes and uproots them. But when our deeds exceed our learning we are like trees whose branches are few but whose roots are many, so that even if all the winds of the world were to come and blow against them, they would be unable to move them.” (Pirke Avot 3:22)

Michael Jameson was revered for his learning, but he was beloved for his deeds. Although he was fascinated by and studied ancient Greek religion for six decades, he did not himself belong to an established religious tradition. The kind of immortality that he believed in was the type that occurs when the impact of one’s personality and work continues to be felt for generations to come. Because of his self-effacing nature, he would not have claimed to have achieved such lasting influence himself. Had he been able to listen to the many tributes in his honor, he would have been surprised to be appreciated for the many levels on which he touched the lives of those who knew him, who in turn influence others.

As we honor Michael Jameson, let us strengthen and expand our awareness of his personal qualities and achievements, helping us to keep them alive for the near and distant future.

Or as Bachya ibn Pakuda says in felicitous language for a classicist: “Days are scrolls; write on them what you want to be remembered.” We will remember your days and your scrolls, (your scrawls), Michael Jameson, and carry them forth into the future, grateful for your wisdom, warmth and friendship. May the memory of your righteousness be for us a blessing.

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Printed Program

To see a page of the printed program, click on the corresponding thumbnail image below:

The program can also be printed on paper.

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Recording of the Service

The Stanford Office of Religious Life has kindly made available a recording of the memorial service on an audio CD. Friends of Mike who would like to receive a copy of this CD are invited to send their postal address, using the contact information on the page http://dfki.de/~jameson/

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Written Remembrances

The following tributes could not be read in full during the service, because of the limited time available.


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Jody Maxmin, Stanford University

As the freshmen arrived on campus this morning, prepared to begin their odyssey, “full of adventure, full of instruction,” I noted a look of anxiety in the faces of some of the parents. We tend too often to forget how traumatic it can be for parents to leave their children in the care of colleges and universities. Such places can be uncaring and impersonal, a dramatically different environment from the families in which students have been raised.

Mike Jameson never forgot and his insistence on treating his students (and the students of others) as extensions of his own wonderful family is one of his many lasting legacies. In the sorrowful days that followed the announcement of his death, I spoke with and wrote to friends and colleagues who, like me, were “adopted” by Mike and regarded themselves as honorary students.

Mike possessed a humanity and a humility combined with a genuine curiosity about what one was doing, academically and personally. He conveyed a feeling that no matter how humble one’s intellect or research project, there was always something that Mike could learn from one and there were always ways in which Mike could help. Mike was a model of a true teacher. While being true to Paul Cartledge’s description of him (“The genius of Mike Jameson was to combine work in three of the major classical sub-disciplines—ancient history, archaeology and epigraphy—and to be both a foremost international expert and a pioneer in all three....”) he could step outside of his own eminence and, with the graciousness and generosity that were two of his greatest virtues, take care to provide that classics and archaeology and epigraphy and history would be guided by great young scholars coming up in the ranks who were also good, kind people.

He never forgot me or any of the stray dogs and cats he collected during his sabbaticals and his travels. We exchanged letters about all manner of subjects, from the weird research topics I was pursuing, to Virginia’s teaching at GFS, to their gardening (supervised by Tim) and his teaching and research projects. I have kept every air-gram, post card and manually typed letter he sent me in a huge “Mike J” file. I sometimes suspected that he sent me on little errands around Oxford so that when I came home for Christmas vacation to see my family in Philadelphia, I would have an excuse for visiting him and Virginia. One time it was some book he could easily have ordered from Blackwell’s. Another time it was some hilarious British undergarment that Virginia just HAD to have. I think it was just a ruse to keep robust what I regarded as one of the most special friendships of my young adult life.

From the day I began teaching, I regarded his model as sacrosanct. Students are the children of others: treat them as you would wish your own children to be treated. Nothing less will do. When Stanford—and the rest of us—operate at the top of our ideals, we are following in the tradition of Mike.

I will remember him every time I encounter a student, see a look of fear or loneliness in his or her eye, and know how to respond. Mike taught us all to be sensitive to such students and to react to that look as any parent would, with generosity and love. Through his teachings, the fields of Greek history, archaeology, epigraphy, excavation, field survey and philhellenism are in the superb hands of his students. Through his equally remarkable teaching, the art of teaching itself has been elevated to levels we will all continue to aspire to, all the while remembering and loving him.


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Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

I was Mike’s first doctoral student after he arrived at Stanford in 1976. But in spring 1980 after I received my degree, I went home for the summer to help on our farm—and ended up staying there. The next year—though it was becoming clear that I would probably not seek an academic career—Mike, my thesis advisor, called and asked whether he could help publish the thesis. I had little money for a publication subsidy and no contacts in the publishing world, and of course no future as a classicist. Mike persisted. And a few weeks later he called back to say he thought a study of agriculture and war could be valuable for the field, that Emilio Gabba agreed, that he had found a postdoctoral publication grant, and the Warfare and Agriculture would appear as a monograph in Italy. He did all that himself, and lectured me not to cease reading and staying active in the field. For the next 10 years as I returned to campus life at CSU Fresno, Mike would periodically write or call, send articles that he thought I would not have access to, and in general inquire about my work, worrying that the teaching load might preclude research. I owe him a great deal for not giving up on me, although at the time there was little likelihood I would write or be active much in classics. Usually I would drive up to Palo Alto, take a look at his fruit trees, advise about pruning, and spend the afternoon keeping up with his updates about European scholarship in classical agrarianism. For years he was my only real conduit to the world of classical scholarship; I deeply appreciated that then and now, and I will miss him a great deal.


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Cynthia Patterson, Emory University

Mike had an extraordinary gift for language. I remember watching (hearing) him negotiate with the guards at archaeological sites in Greece and thinking “wow”—especially when we ended up getting just what we wanted. That was the summer of 1973 when I was a member of the Halieis excavation (and Richard finished his dissertation—in the Porto Cheli coffee house).

The excavation took a midpoint break early in July, and the director offered to drive anyone interested on a tour of the Peloponnese in the excavation’s old blue VW bus. We signed up for the trip and it still provides some of my favorite visual memories of Greece and of Mike. In particular, I remember our arrival in Sparta. It had been a long, hot day—walking through sites, climbing acropoleis, and bumping along the roads. But in Sparta, our leader said, he knew just the taverna to revive our spirits and energy. And indeed, he led us to an out of the way establishment with tables distributed around a small waterfall, where we ate grilled brizoli, choriatike salad, and drank the local, dark smoky retsina, while our dessert karpouzi cooled in the water at the foot of the falls. Could this be Sparta? It was a magical evening—I don’t think I could find the spot again or if I did it probably wouldn’t match the memory, which I am happy to keep just as it is.

Finally, the second to last time I saw Mike was over Labor Day weekend a year ago in Palo Alto. We took Scotttie for a walk and talked over his new theory about the family of Neaira, based on his curiosity and a previously unnoticed grave inscription for a woman named Strybele. It was a spectacularly beautiful California morning—and there was Mike walking the dog over the hills behind Stanford and doing Greek history.


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Helene Foley, Barnard College

I first met Mike Jameson when he joined the faculty at Stanford. What continued to strike me throughout the time I was still teaching there is Mike’s role as an intellectual catalyst. His mind was always full of more good questions than he could ever pursue and he was generous in sharing them with others. I remember reading over and over a number of his papers, including his unpublished dissertation from University of Chicago, which played an important role in the introduction to my first book. But he was also brilliant at seeing the critical questions hidden in one’s own work. One time he asked me to come to his Greek history seminar and do an anthropological critique of a particular issue relating to Homer and Archaic Greece that the class was studying. I was deeply intimidated. But of course it turned out after I had done it that it was just what I needed to think through for my own research and this was his tactful way of telling me so. After I left Stanford, I found myself saving up questions for him at rare meetings in NY or the APA. If I could convince Mike, I knew I was onto something, even if less adventurous people might not agree. I will deeply miss the chance to keep doing so.


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Martin Ostwald, Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania

Michael Jameson was one of my oldest friends in the United States. We met in the graduate reading room of the Classics Department at the University of Chicago in 1946, where he was working for his doctorate in Classics, and I was beginning graduate studies in Classics in the Committee on Social Thought. He had just married Virginia, and I had just begun dating Lore, who was to become my wife two years later. Common interests, mutual congeniality, and daily contact soon made us and our families firm friends.

His acceptance of a position at the University of Missouri and my departure to Columbia University in New York reduced our contacts to correspondence, but a more intimate contact was re-established, when he moved to the University of Pennsylvania and, partly because of his presence there, made me accept a teaching position at Swarthmore College in 1958. Throughout the eighteen years that we were neighbours, personal and professional bonds between us flourished.

The discussion of the Themistocles decree and the problems it aroused world-wide among Classical scholars is still going on. It may be said to have started at a memorable colloquium held under Mike’s leadership at the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, at which Professors Benjamin Merritt, H. T. Wade-Gery, and Pierre Amandry were among the most lively participants. It also marked the beginning of Mike’s interest in the exploration of the Argolid, especially of the excavation of Halieis under his supervision. The outstanding team of students he assembled for the excavations became his devoted friends, and many now occupy prominent academic positions at universities and museums.

1960 is also memorable for my family and myself in that we spent the first of several summer vacations with the Jamesons in Maine. Mike had introduced us to a prominent Philadelphian who rented out converted barns on his estate at a low rate to, as he put it, “academics who deserve a vacation but cannot afford it.” We were fortunate to be considered such, and spent many a happy summers there. Shortly before we left, Mike had acquired “Dutchess” from the dog pound. She was a pure Bassett hound, and when, soon after arrival in Maine, she gave birth to ten beautiful puppies, it was not difficult to succumb to Mike’s persuasion to take the seventh—appropriately named “Septimia”—into our house. She remained with us as a beloved companion for many years. Her paternal parent remained a mystery, as her legs grew longer and her ears did not.

Mike was an activist and had an unusual knack of implementing the ideas that kept springing up in his restless mind. One of the most seminal institutional contributions to the study of antiquity he made almost as soon as he was appointed Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. Taking advantage of the presence at Penn of an excellent Department of Oriental Studies (as it was then called) and of the outstanding facilities of the University Museum, he founded the “Graduate Group in Ancient History” as a new way of fostering through interdisciplinary studies a more comprehensive view of the ancient past, which culminated in a Ph.D. which had teeth in it. The faculty was drawn from members of all existing departments concerned with the study of antiquity, so that no new appointments were required, and the students were assured instruction by the best expert in each field. To complete the doctorate, a student had to pass preliminary examinations in the language and literature of any two ancient cultures: Egyptian and Hittite, Assyrian and Greek, Roman and Hebrew, etc.: any two ancient cultures were acceptable. The completion and defense of a dissertation, preferably on a subject bridging the two cultures chosen was the only additional requirement for the Ph.D. This program, in which I was also privileged to participate. attracted a sizable number of outstanding students, many of whom now occupy chairs at leading universities. As far as I know, Mike was the first to implement an idea that has by now spread to many other universities both in this country and abroad and has given rise to a number of institutes of Mediterranean Studies.

Michael Jameson was a Classicist’s Classicist. There are very few areas of Greek studies that his fertile inquisitive mind did not try to explore. Since he saw the interconnection between religion and locality, traditional text and inscription, literature and history, his written contributions to all of these—and more—cannot be arranged in a chronological pattern. He saw any given problem three-dimensionally and wrote on whatever aspect of it occupied his mind at any given time. For example, his interest in Greek religion was concentrated on sacrifice. He first examined the significance of sacrifice at meals in his dissertation in 1949. At the time of his death, he was still working on the publication of his great general contribution on Sacrifice and Society in Ancient Greece (given as the Martin Lectures at Oberlin in 1983). He was also still busy working on the second Nilsson Lecture to be given at the Swedish Institute in Athens on Greek Religion: The Public Record. This does not signify a flagging of his interests in religion between these two dates; it merely indicates his perfectionism: He did not want to commit his thoughts to print, until and unless he was sure he had substantiated by further study every detail that he had said and learned. At least 12 articles on religious aspects of heroes. places, and institutions appeared after his dissertation at various points in his career either as independent pieces or as contributions to collective works. The best known of these is probably his chapter on Greek Mythology in S. N. Kramer’s The Mythologies of the Ancient World, published as a Doubleday Anchor Book in 1961. It is still used as a basic text in many classes on mythology. One of his most important contributions to scholarship in Greek religion is his Notes on the sacrificial calendar from Erchia (Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, 1965).

Mike’s earliest published contributions to the reflections of historical events in literature appeared in articles on Seniority in the Strategia (1955), Politics and the Philoctetes (1956), and Sophocles and the 400 (1971). His most durable contribution to our knowledge of the Greek past combines his love of the Greek landscape with a keen eye for hidden archaeological sites, a superb knowledge of Greek, and a thorough mastery of epigraphy. To this we owe not only the discovery of the Themistocles Decree from Troezen and the ample exploration of its meaning, but also his organization of the ecological investigation of the Argolid which retrieved a vast treasure of new inscriptions, and culminated in the excavation of Halieis. where some work is still going on.

I could go on for quite some time without even beginning to do justice to the ways classical scholarship has been enriched by Mike’s contributions. They have been recognized internationally by significant awards and appointments. His work won the support of the Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundations, he won fellowships from the NEH and the ACLS; he was elected to membership by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and by the American Philosophical Society, he held visiting appointments at Darwin and Jesus Colleges in Cambridge, at the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, and at the National Research Council at Odense, Denmark. And this is far from exhausting the recognitions his excellence as a scholar and teacher received.

But on the human level, all this is matched by the warmth of his friendship, his dedication to his students, his generous helpfulness to those who needed it and by the affection he radiated.

(Iliad, 22, 389–390).

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Other Tributes


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Michael H. Jameson Memorial Tree

With the help of donations from colleagues and friends, in late 2004 Prof. Irene Polinskaya arranged for a memorial tree to be planted in Mike’s memory at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. During the Spring of 2005, she organized a tree dedication ceremony, which was held in mid-June in conjunction with a colloquium that was organized by Dr. Angelos Matthaiou.