Martin Litchfield West
Learn more about Martin Litchfield West
Martin Litchfield West (born 23 September 1937, London, England) is an internationally recognised scholar in classics, classical antiquity and philology, with a current special interest in Greek and Near Eastern Poetry, Greek Music. He is an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford.
He has written extensively on ancient Greek music, the relations between Greece and the Ancient Near East, and the connexion between shamanism and early Ancient Greek religion, including the Orphic tradition. This work stems from material in Akkadian, Phoenician, Hebrew, Hittite, and Ugaritic, as well as Greek and Latin.
He has recently produced an ambitious edition of Homer's Iliad for Teubner, followed by a study of its critical tradition and overall philology. As of 2006 he has in press a book exploring Indo-European poetry and myth, as opposed to the non-Indo-European connections with Greece studied in his immediately preceding works.
 Awards and honours
- 2000 Balzan Prize winner for his contributions to classical scholarship and antiquity
- 2002 Kenyon Medal for Classical Studies from the British Academy. 
 Academic teaching and research history
- Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford (since 2004)
- Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford (1991-2004).
- Professor of Greek, University of London (Bedford College, later Royal Holloway and Bedford New College) (1974-91).
- Fellow and Praelector in Classics, University College, Oxford (1963-74).
- Jr. Woodhouse Research Fellow, St. John's College, Oxford (1960-63).
A dedication for Dr. West by The British Academy, upon awarding him the 2002 Kenyon Medal for Classical Studies :
"Among classical scholars, and in the field of ancient Greek literature, Martin West’s intellect and productivity have put him in a class of his own. In a career of 35 years, he has published 15 major books, several smaller books, and nearly 200 incisive and original papers. All of his writings maintain the highest standards of traditional scholarship, combining acute intelligence and technical mastery with an admirable clarity and directness of mind and style. His work falls into three overlapping categories. First of all, he is the author of the standard manuals of Textual Criticism (1978), Greek Metre (1982) and Greek Music (1992). In case ‘manual’ suggests a second-hand compilation, it should be explicitly stated that all three books represent a deeply original viewpoint. Secondly, in the editing and explication of Greek poetic texts, West has contributed exemplary editions of the fragments of Hesiod (with R. Merkelbach, 1967); of the Greek Iambic and Elegiac poets (1971-2; 2 1989, 1992); of the Anacreontea (1984; 2 1993); of Aeschylus (1990); and of the Iliad (vol. I, 1998). His contribution to Iambus and Elegy was reinforced by invaluable adversaria in Studies in Greek Elegy and Iambus (1974), and his papers on Greek lyric poetry would in themselves make a substantial volume. He celebrated the millennium with a new text of the fundamental poem of Western civilization, Homer’s Iliad. In addition, there are critical texts, with magisterial commentaries, of Hesiod’s Theogony (1966) and Works and Days (1978), and The Orphic Poems (1983) and The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women (1985), which reconstruct with great acumen and ingenuity two literary genres familiar to the Greeks but lost to us except in fragments. Thirdly, his interest in the Greeks and the Orient, first exemplified in Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient (1971), recently reemerged in The East Face of Helicon (1997), a comprehensive and timely investigation of parallels between Greek literature and the literatures of the Ancient Near East based on first-hand acquaintance with the texts. In the field of classical scholarship, as traditionally understood, Martin West is to be judged, on any reckoning, the most brilliant and productive Greek scholar of his generation, not just in the United Kingdom, but worldwide."
A dedication to Dr. West upon receiving the 2000 Balzan Prize for Classical Antiquity :
"For his masterful editions and explanations of Greek poetry from Homer to the Attic tragedy as well as for his groundbreaking research in the alleged and still violently debated relationships between Greece and the Orient. Born in 1937, a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, West is considered one of the world's leading classical philologists. His masterly critical editions include Hesiod's works, Greek lyric, orphic poetry and all of Aeschylus' tragedies. His Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient (published in Italy by Il Mulino, 1994) offers a decisive and well-balanced contribution to the age-old debate over the 'originality' of Greek culture and its indebtedness to other cultures. His groundbreaking studies on early Greek music are also noteworthy."
 Selected list of books
- Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1971, xv + 256 pp.; translation into Italian, Bologna 1993
- Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique Applicable to Greek and Latin Texts (Teubner Studienbücher), Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner 1973, 155 pp.; translation into Greek, Athens 1989; translation into Italian, Palermo 1991; translation into Hungarian, Budapest 1999
- Studies in Greek Elegy and Iambus (Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte 14), Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter 1974, ix + 198 pp.
- Immortal Helen: an inaugural lecture delivered on 30 April 1975, London: Bedford College 1975, 18 pp. ISBN 0-900145-30-7
- Greek Metre, Oxford 1982, xiv + 208 pp. ISBN 0-19-814018-5
- The Orphic Poems, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1983, xii + 275 pp. ISBN 0-19-814854-2; translation into Italian, Naples 1993;
- The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Its Nature, Structure, and Origins, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1985, viii + 193 pp. ISBN 0-19-814034-7
- Introduction to Greek Metre, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1987, xi + 90 pp. ISBN 0-19-872132-3
- Studies in Aeschylus (Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 1), Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner 1990, x + 406 pp. ISBN 3-519-07450-8
- Ancient Greek Music, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1992, xiii + 410 pp ISBN 0-19-814897-6; translation into Greek, Athens 1999
- Die griechische Dichterin: Bild und Rolle (Lectio Teubneriana v), Stuttgart & Leipzig: B.G. Teubner 1996, 48 pp. ISBN 3-519-07554-7
- The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1997, xxvi + 662 pp. ISBN 0-19-815042-3
- Studies in the text and transmission of the Iliad. München: K.G. Saur 2001 304 pp. ISBN 3-598-73005-5
 Editions, commentaries and translations of classical texts
- Hesiod, Theogony, ed. with prolegomena and commentary by M.L. West, Oxford: Clarednon Press 1966, xiii + 459 pp.
- Fragmenta Hesiodea, ed.: R. Merkelbach et M. L. West, Oxonii: e Typographeo Clarendoniano 1967, 236 pp.
- Iambi et elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum cantati. 1 : Archilochus. Hipponax. Theognidea, ed. M. L. West, Oxonii: e typographeo Clarendoniano 1971, revised edition 1989, xvi + 256
- Iambi et elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum cantati2 : Callinus. Mimnermus. Semonides. Solon. Tyrtaeus. Minora adespota, ed. M. L. West, Oxonii: e typographeo Clarendoniano 1972, revised edition 1992 x + 246 pp.
- Sing me, goddess. Being the first recitation of Homer's Iliad, translated by Martin West, London: Duckworth 1971, 43 pp. ISBN 0-7156-0595-X
- Theognidis et Phocylidis fragmenta et adespota quaedam gnomica, ed. M. L. West (Kleine Texte für Vorlesungen und Übungen 192), Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 1978, iv + 49 pp.
- Hesiod, Works and Days, ed. with prolegomena and commentary by M.L. West, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1978, xiii + 399 pp.
- Delectus ex Iambis et Elegis Graecis, ed. M. L. West, Oxonii : E. Typographeo Clarendoniano 1980, ix + 295 pp. ISBN 0-19-814589-6
- Carmina Anacreontea, edidit Martin L. West (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana), Leipzig: Teubner 1984, xxvi + 64 pp.; corrected reprint with one page of Addenda, 1993 ISBN 3-8154-1025-8
- Euripides, Orestes, ed. with transl. and commentary by M. L. West, Warminster: Aris & Phillips 1987, ix + 297 pp. ISBN 0-85668-310-8
- Hesiod, Theogony, and Works and Days, transl. and with an introduction by M. L. West, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1988, xxv + 79 pp. ISBN 0-19-281788-4
- Aeschyli Tragoediae cum incerti poetae Prometheo, recensuit Martin L. West (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana), Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner 1990, lxxxv + 508 pp. ISBN 3-519-01013-5
- Greek Lyric Poetry. The poems and fragments of the Greek iambic, elegiac, and melic poets (excluding Pindar and Bacchylides) down to 450 B.C., [verse translation] Oxford: Oxford university Press 1993, xxv + 213 pp. ISBN 0-19-282360-4
- Homeri Ilias. Volumen prius rhapsodias I-XII continens, recensuit Martin L. West (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana), Stuttgart & Leipzig: B.G. Teubner 1998, lxii + 372 pp. ISBN 3-519-01431-9
- Homeri Ilias. Volumen alterum rhapsodias XIII-XXIV continens, recensuit Martin L. West (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana), K. G. Saur: Leipzig & Munich 2000, vii + 396 pp.
- Homeric Hymns, Homeric Apocrypha, Lives of Homer, edited and translated by Martin L. West. (The Loeb Classical Library 496) Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 2003 ISBN 0-674-99606-2
- Greek Epic Fragments from the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries BC, edited and translated by Martin L. West (The Loeb Classical Library 497). London Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 2003 ISBN 0-674-99605-4
 Selected articles
His works also include contributions to dictionaries and books and more than 200 articles and papers since 1960.
- The Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts of Hesiod's "Theogony", Classical Quarterly 14, 1964, 165-89;
- Conjectures on 46 Greek Poets, Philologus 110, 1996, 147-68;
- The Contest of Homer and Hesiod, Classical Quarterly 17, 1967, 433-50;
- Near Eastern Material in Hellenistic and Roman Literature, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 73, 1968, 113-34;
- Stesichorus, Classical Quarterly 21, 1971, 302-14;
- The Cosmology of "Hippocrates", De Hebdomadibus, Classical Quarterly 21, 1971, 365-88;
- Indo-European Metre, Glotta 51, 1973, 161-87;
- Greek Poetry 2000-700 B.C., Classical Quarterly 23, 1973, 179-92;
- The Medieval Manuscripts of the "Works and Days", Classical Quarterly 24, 1974, 161-85;
- Tragica I-VII, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 24, 1977, 89-103; 25, 1978, 106-22; 26, 1979, 104-17; 27, 1980, 9-22; 28, 1981, 61-78; 30, 1983, 63-82; 31, 1984, 171-96;
- The Prometheus Trilogy, Journal of Hellenic Studies 99, 1979, 130-48;
- The Rise of the Greek Epic, Journal of Hellenic Studies 108, 1988, 151-72;
- Analecta Musica, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 92, 1992, 1-54;
- Simonides Redivivus, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 98, 1993, 1-14;
- The Babylonian Musical Notation and the Hurrian Melodic Texts, Music and Letters 75, 1993/4, 161-79;
- "Ab Ovo". Orpheus, Sanchuniathon, and the Origins of the Ionian World Model, Classical Quarterly 44, 1994, 289-307;
- The Date of the "Iliad", Museum Helveticum 52, 1995, 203-19;
- Akkadian Poetry: Metre and Performance, Iraq 59, 1997, 175-87;
- Towards Monotheism, P. Athanassiadi and M. Frede (edd.), Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity, Oxford 1999, 20-40;
- The Invention of Homer, Classical Quarterly 49, 1999, 364-82
 External links
- Dr. West's page at All Souls College, Oxford
- Dr. West's page at the Balzan Foundation Prize
- Dr. West's page at the British Academy's Kenyon Medal award