Kaster, Robert A. 1948- (Bob Kaster, Robert Andrew Kaster)

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Kaster, Robert A. 1948- (Bob Kaster, Robert Andrew Kaster)


Born February 6, 1948, in New York, NY; son of A. Russell and Gloria Kaster; married Laura Alyx Blumenson, June 22, 1969; children: Paul Adam, Anna Claire. Education: Dartmouth College, A.B., 1969; Harvard University, M.A., 1971, Ph.D., 1975. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, piano, fishing, squash, softball.


Office—Department of Classics, 155 E. Pyne, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-5264. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, classics scholar, administrator, and educator. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, teaching fellow in classics, 1972-73; Colby College, Waterville, ME, instructor in classics, 1973-74; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, assistant professor, 1975-82, associate professor, 1982-89, professor of classics, 1989-97, chair, department of classical languages and literatures, 1994-97; Avalon Foundation, distinguished service professor, 1996-97; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, professor of classics and Kennedy Foundation Professor of Latin, 1997—, chair, department of classics, 2000-03, Old Dominion Professor, Council of Humanities, 2008-09. Oriel College, Oxford University, visiting fellow, 1999; Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, visiting scholar, 2003-04. Presenter of papers and lectures at academic conferences, meetings, and symposia.


American Philological Association (member of board of directors, 1989-92, 1995-97; president, 1996), Association of Ancient Historians, Women's Classical Caucus, Phi Beta Kappa.


Rufus Choate Scholar, Dartmouth College, 1967-69; Dartmouth General Fellowship, 1969; National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 1980-81, 2003-04; Guggenheim Fellowship, 1991-92; Goodwin Award of Merit, American Philological Association, 1991, for Guardians of Language; Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities at Princeton, 2007.


Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1988.

The Tradition of the Text of the "Aeneid" in the Ninth Century, Garland (New York, NY), 1990.

Studies on the Text of Suetonius: De grammaticis et rhetoribus, Scholars Press (Atlanta, GA), 1992.

(Editor, translator, and author of introduction and commentary) C. Suetonius Tranquillus, De grammaticis et rhetoribus, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1995.

Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

(Translator and author of introduction and commentary) Marcus Tullius Cicero, Speech on Behalf of Publius Sestius, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 2006.

Contributor to books, including the Oxford Classical Dictionary, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1996; Style and Tradition: Studies in Honor of Wendell Clausen, edited by P.E. Knox and C. Foss, B.G. Teubner (Stuttgart, Germany), 1998; Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World, edited by G.W. Bowersock, Peter Brown, and Oleg Grabar, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999; A Companion to Latin Literature, edited by Stephen J. Harrison, Blackwell Publishing (Oxford, England), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Philologus, American Journal of Philology, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Chiron, Classical Philology, Mnemosyne, Historiographica Linguistica: International Journal for the History of Linguistics, Notre Dame Philosophical Review, Transactions of the American Philological Association, Speculum, and Bryn Mawr Classical Review. Classical Philology, member of editorial board, 1978-81, 1998—, editor, 1981-90, associate editor, 1990-97. Referee for scholarly journals and publications.


Writer, classics scholar, and educator Robert A. Kaster is a professor of classics and Kennedy Foundation Professor of Latin at Princeton University. His teaching and scholarly interests are focused largely in the areas of Roman rhetoric, Roman ethics, and the history of ancient education, noted a biographer on the Princeton University Web site. He has taught graduate and undergraduate classes on a wide variety of classical subjects, including Roman comedy; Roman letters; the book in Roman society and culture; invective, slander, and insult in Latin literature; and Rape and Roman Rhetoric. He has also taught widely on ancient writers and personalities, such as Caesar, Cicero, Catullus, Euripides, Sophocles, Virgil, Tacitus, and Thucydides. A prolific writer and academic, he has contributed dozens of articles to scholarly journals and associated publications, and has presented numerous papers and lectures at conferences and symposia. Kaster is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fund.

Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity is a "multifaceted survey of the professional world of the Roman grammarians," noted James Galbraith, writing in Libraries & Culture. Kaster relates how grammarians of the time were responsible for teaching children the basics of Latin grammar. In addition, they were also required to be vigilant in protecting the Latin language from drift and corruption. Despite their role in conveying and protecting the language that connected citizens in ancient antiquity, they were not largely heralded by contemporary writers, and have not been thoroughly considered in academic works to date. Kaster notes the discrepancy between the roles played by the ancient grammarians, how their relatively meager standing in the social and political arenas of the day is not commensurate with the vitally important role they played in the educational system that catered to the elite members of society. Kaster observes that ancient grammarians found their source of power in their influence and control over the Latin language. Galbraith concluded, "Guardians of Language is well written and fascinating, but it is also a challenging book that assumes a classical background." However, Galbraith also noted that nonclassicists would still be able to derive a great deal of worthwhile information from the book, observing, "There is much to be gleaned even if one tends to glaze over during the Latin passages."

Kaster explores the emotional life of ancient Romans in Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome. Here, he addresses milder, socially useful and applicable emotional states that ameliorate problems, undo "offenses and thereby aid the smooth coexistence of people in society," commented Lionel Casson in a Historian review. Kaster considers five major emotional conditions identified by their Latin names: verecundia, pudor, paenitentia, invidia, and fastidium. Each is carefully considered in a separate chapter. Verecundia concerns the individual regard for reputation of self and others; pudor expands on this concept of verecundia, but is interpreted as widely as the modern word "shame," Casson reported. Paenitentia concerns regret at a material or ethical shortcoming or shortfall; Invidia corresponds to modern concepts of envy and resentment; and fastidium covers the gamut of sights, sounds, and concepts that produce disgust or aversion, from mild to extreme. Kaster considers how these emotional concepts were formed in Roman times, how these emotions affected interactions among Romans, and what they meant to Roman society at large. Throughout the book, Kaster's "presentation is densely textured but clear and often brightened by modern examples, in colorful vernacular," stated Casson, who concluded: "Translators, historians, commentators, and others who deal with Latin texts will find the book a most useful guide" to emotional behavior and its connection to society in ancient Rome.



American Historical Review, February, 1990, Sabine MacCormack, review of Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity, p. 145.

American Journal of Philology, spring, 2007, Peter Toohey, review of Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome, p. 137.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2006, L.M. Fratantuono, review of Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome, p. 1596.

Classical Review, October, 2006, "Roman Emotion," review of Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome, p. 429.

English Historical Review, April, 1992, A.C. Dionisotti, review of Guardians of Language, p. 423.

Historian, spring, 2007, Lionel Casson, review of Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome, p. 154.

History: The Journal of the Historical Association, February, 1990, W.H.C. Frend, review of Guardians of Language, p. 98.

Libraries & Culture, spring, 2000, James Galbraith, review of Guardians of Language, p. 366.

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, October, 1990, E.A. Meyer, review of Guardians of Language, p. 1002.

Times Literary Supplement, April 14, 1989, Averil Cameron, review of Guardians of Language, p. 399; April 7, 2006, Teresa Morgan, "Romans for Us," review of Emotion, Restraint, and Community in Ancient Rome, p. 28.


Princeton University Web site,http://www.princeton.edu/ (August 11, 2008), faculty profile.

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