I got to stand up today and say that someone in Ancient History & Classics produced something that will have a lasting impact for more than a century.” said Dr. Hugh Elton, dean of humanities at Trent University as he celebrated the launch of Dr. Ian C. Storey’s three-volume set entitled Fragments of Old Comedy which was produced for the Loeb Classical Library. “You don’t get to do that very often.”
More than 60 friends, family, students and colleagues came out to the Ceilie pub at Trent University’s Champlain College on Tuesday, May 31, 2011, to mark Professor Storey’s significant accomplishment. The Loeb Classical Library, published by Harvard University Press, was founded in 1911 with the goal of making ancient Greek and Latin classics accessible to a larger audience. The volumes offer text in the original Greek or Latin on the left-hand side of the page with an English translation and notes on the right. A project of over two and a half years, Prof. Storey’s work compiles the extant fragments of old Greek comedy (c. 485–c. 380 BCE) in three volumes, from Alcaeus to Xenophon.
“Old comedy was a genre of popular entertainment, particularly in the fifth century B.C.E.,” explains Prof. Storey. “We have 11 complete plays by a poet named Aristophanes - we knew about those for years, but there were 60 other poets in that period who were producing plays, and none of them have survived. All we have are fragments that were quoted by other ancient authors.”
According to Prof. Storey, assembling the volumes was a bit like detective work: “We have one play, for example, which would have been 1500 lines long in its original. We have only 150 lines remaining. It’s as if I gave you a 1500 piece jigsaw, but only gave you 150 of the pieces – now put the puzzle together.”
Prof. Storey spent his sabbatical trying to assemble this puzzle, working 13 and sometimes 15-hour days. He completed the project this year while teaching a full course load. His skill as a researcher is matched by his dedication and popularity as a teacher as was evidenced by the many students who came out to the book launch.
According to Prof. Elton, Prof. Storey’s contribution to the Loeb Classical Library is a rare distinction. “There are only 518 volumes in the library, and some of them are series of five or eight volumes on a particular author, so the number of people who have actually done these would be around 300 or 350. Ian is one of that crowd of people. It’s a huge achievement.”
Prof. Storey intends to retire next year, but the Loeb volumes, says Prof. Elton, will leave a lasting legacy. “I’m still using Loebs that were produced in the 1920s. These volumes are not just a text book; they are not just an article or a monograph. These are the very tools of scholarship and they are going to be a part of the scholarship of Greek comedy probably into the 22nd century,” he said, adding, “He’s a first-class researcher and a first-class teacher. He really cares about his students. That’s a tremendous combination.”
Prof. Storey graduated from Trinity College at the University of Toronto with an Honours B.A. in Classics, followed by an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and a Masters of Philosophy from Oxford University. Prof. Storey's areas of research interest include old comedy, the plays of Euripides, ancient fiction (especially Lucian), and the life and fiction of C.S. Lewis. He is an active member and lay-reader at St. John’s Anglican Church and has been a member of the Department of Ancient History & Classics (formerly Department of Classical Studies) at Trent University for 37 years.