Saturday, May 7, 2011

No sooner do I ask ...

... than I get a reply from a reader. I knew someone would know the answer to the puzzle of the banker who was the best Homeric scholar. It was, apparently, Walter Leaf (1852 - 1927). Wikipedia tells us about his banking career, which was spectacular:
In 1877 he entered the family firm, becoming in 1888 chairman of Leaf & Company Ltd. Later he became chairman of the Westminster Bank. He was one of the founders of the International Chamber of Commerce, of which he was elected president in 1925. From 1919 to 1921 he was president of the Institute of Bankers. He was president of the Hellenic Society and the Classical Association. He married Charlotte Symonds, daughter of John Addington Symonds.
From another source we find that he was a pioneer of psychical research:
Leaf was also an active member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), London, and served a tenure on the council (1889-1902). He took part in the SPR sittings with the medium Leonora Piper in 1889-90 and frequently contributed to the Journal and the Proceedings of the SPR.
The really important aspect of his career was sent to me by the aforementioned reader of this blog and it is taken from the current Cambridge University Press edition of The Iliad, which was edited by Walter Leaf:
Walter Leaf (1852-1927) was a banker and classicist, whose various positions as chairman of the Westminster Bank, founder of the London Chamber of Commerce and president of the Hellenic Society reflected his wide-ranging professional and scholarly interests. Leaf was educated at Harrow School and won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1870. He became senior classic in 1874 and was elected to a fellowship the following year. As a scholar Leaf was concerned with uncovering the physical reality of the classical world, a stance which set him apart from Jane Harrison and the Cambridge Ritual School. Leaf ’s The Iliad, with introduction and notes, first appeared in two volumes (1886–8), and was regarded for several decades as the best English edition of Homer’s epic poem. Volume 2 of the second (1902) edition comprises Leaf ’s preface, an introduction to books 13–24 of the poem, and the annotated text.
I feel more than usually inadequate.

No comments:

Post a Comment