Philippides retires after 39 years
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
The conclusion of the 2016–17 academic year saw the well-earned retirement of Marios Philippides, who had been teaching at UMass Amherst since 1978. Prof. Philippides holds degrees in Classics from Queens College (BA, 1972) and SUNY Buffalo (MA 1976, PhD 1978). His main scholarly focus has been the 1453 fall of Constantinople, the annexation of the Balkans, and the conquest of the Franco-Byzantine Levant by the Ottoman Turks.
Prof. Philippides has published a number of books, including his monumental 2011 study, The Siege and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453: Historiography, Topography, and Military Studies. Coauthored with Walter Hanak, this book’s 11 chapters not only offer comprehensive analysis of the primary sources concerning this famous historical event but also subject the scholarly literature devoted to this topic over the last century and a half to searching scrutiny. Other key avenues of Prof. Philippides’s scholarly inquiry have included ancient religion, archaeology, and late-Byzantine historiography. His numerous books and articles have ranged in topic from the ancient Greek novelist Longus to Mycenaean frescoes, and from the reception of ancient Troy in Renaissance Istanbul to detailed analysis of accounts of the city left by chroniclers of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries.
Generations of UMass Amherst students discovered and developed an interest in the ancient world after enrolling in Prof. Philippides’s large lecture courses on Greek civilization and Greek mythology. Students will remember him for the genuine passion for the subject that he brought to every lecture, as well as for his commanding presence, sardonic wit, and sartorial flair (the Russian fur cap with ear flaps was a perennial favorite).
Rex Wallace offers a remembrance of Prof. Philippides’s captivating lecture style: “During our Classics-sponsored trip to Athens in the spring of 2006, students and faculty visited the museum and the site of Marathon. It was a swelteringly hot day. Near the Tumulus of the Athenians under the blazing sun, Marios was to speak about the Battle of Marathon. I imagined students dozing off in the middle of his lecture; heck, it was so hot that I thought I’d be fighting that battle as well. And then something amazing happened. Marios delivered one of the most inspiring lectures I’ve ever heard—period. He mesmerized some 25 undergraduates for 20 minutes with the story of what is generally acknowledged as ‘a pivotal moment in the history of Greece.’ When Marios concluded, I could see in the eyes of the students how very profoundly moved they were. As Marios turned to walk to the tumulus for our class picture, a powerful round of applause, cheers, and bravos erupted from the students. Marios is not easily moved by such displays; he was moved by this one.”
Classics major Julia Caudle writes: “Although I've loved listening to his lectures, the best impression of Professor Philippides comes from a one-on-one conversation. Beyond his wry humor, he has a deep concern and respect for his students as individuals that I'll always admire.”
Prof. Philippides’s presence in the department will be missed by faculty and staff alike. Departmental Administrative Coodinator Lisa Marie Smith will never forget his kindness toward her young daughters, who grew up expecting “Uncle Marios” to read them stories whenever they visited. Debbie Felton adds: “Marios cracks me up. Plus, he’s always great with my son Alex, who shares his interest in astronomy. They’ve had some good conversations about black holes and quasars.”
Teresa Ramsby writes: “Marios was always a generous colleague when it came to sharing his knowledge about the Greek world and Greek vases in particular. Many times he helped me figure out the imagery on a Greek vase so I could use it in a class. I will miss Marios’s expertise and his dry, acerbic humor around the office.”
Not just a Byzantine scholar but a Renaissance man, Prof. Philippides is an expert scuba diver, an accomplished harpsichordist, and a devoted dog owner. His retirement will no doubt lead to further adventures. Everyone at UMass Classics wishes him the best in his diverse pursuits.