Sanford G. Etheridge, 1927 - 2013
The Department of Classical Studies is sad to report that our long-time colleague Sanford Etheridge passed away September 9, 2013, after a long illness. Sanford was a professor at Tulane from 1961-1993, where he taught many subjects in Greek and Latin language and literature. At the time of his retirement in 1993, Sanford was awarded emeritus status by the university. In a department that prides itself on its knowledge of languages, Sanford was our linguist, with an incredible breadth of knowledge in Latin, Greek, and many other languages as well.
Sanford received his BA from the University of Texas in 1948, with a major in Philosophy. After his graduation, he embarked upon an Odyssey of study in Europe, first at Grenoble in 1949, where he studied French. His next stop was at Saarbrücken, where he studied Classics 1950-52, and finally he studied both Classics and Sanskrit at Bonn, from 1952-54. After serving for several years of in US army intelligence in Germany, he went to Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in Classical Philology in 1961. That same year he came to Tulane, as a member of the faculty of Arts and Sciences. Sanford wrote his dissertation in the field of ancient philosophical thought on "Plutarch’s De Virtute morali: A Study of Extra-Peripatetic Aristotelianism," under the renowned Werner Jaeger; Sanford was Prof. Jaeger's last student. At the beginning of his career, Sanford's work was concentrated in the field of his dissertation. He wrote numerous reviews on books in Greek philosophy, and his translation of the second-century CE philosopher Sextus Empiricus, originally published in 1964, was re-issued in 1985. Despite concentrating his publications in this field, he displayed an amazing range of interest and expertise, a versatility that was reflected in his teaching as well as his research. His work encompassed such varied areas as ancient literary criticism, ancient science, especially Greek medicine, Greek lyric poetry, and mythology. But Sanford's real passion throughout his career, and also in his retirement, was in languages, Besides Greek and Latin, Sanford was an expert in Sanskrit and Irish. He was fluent in Irish, and beginning in 1974, he was the editor of Gaeltacht, the only periodical entirely in Irish published outside of Ireland. He published an article on Greek philosophy in Russian, and he also studied Native American languages and mythology, in particular Cherokee.
In the Classics Department, Sanford was always very kind and cooperative. In his later years at Tulane Sanford was happy to teach large sections of mythology, and when several students showed an interest, he offered a course on Sanskrit. He would also help out with colleagues in French by guest-lecturing on the history of the French language. On occasion, he offered courses in his beloved Irish. The nature of wide-ranging interests made him a somewhat unconventional academic, but he shared with his colleagues a love of learning. While at Tulane, Sanford always seemed to be studying yet another new language, and he remained devoted to this type of learning throughout his retirement.