Kopff, E(dward) Christian 1946-

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KOPFF, E(dward) Christian 1946-

PERSONAL: Born November 22, 1946, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Frederick Louis (an attorney) and Willie Maude (a nurse; maiden name, Compton) Kopff; married; wife's name, Carmen; children: Barrett, Theodore. Education: Haverford College, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1968; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ph.D., 1974. Religion: Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

ADDRESSES: Home—1331 Kennedy Ave., Louisville CO 80027. Office—Honors Program, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309.

CAREER: Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies, Rome, Italy, assistant director, 1972-73; University of Colorado, Boulder, assistant professor, 1973-76, associate professor of classics, 1977—; associate director, honors program, 1990—. American Philological Associate, assistant to the secretary, 1976-77; assistant to director for academic publications, American Academy in Rome, 1979.

MEMBER: American Philological Association, Classical Association of the Middle West and South.

AWARDS, HONORS: Fellow of American Academy of Rome and National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990-1992.


(Editor) Brooks Otis, Cosmos and Tragedy: An Essay on the Meaning of Aeschylus, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1981.

(Editor) Euripides, Bacchae, Teubner Verlag (Leipzig, Germany), 1982.

(Editor, with J. H. D'Arms) Seaborne Commerce of the Roman Empire, American Academy in Rome (Rome, Italy), 1980.

(Author of introduction) Paul Shorey, The Roosevelt Lectures of Paul Shorey (1913-1914), G. Olms Verlag (New York, NY), 1995.

The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition, ISI Books (Wilmington, DE), 1999.

Contributor to classical studies journals. Book review editor of Classical Journal, 1977-87; American editor of Quaderni di storia, 1982-1999; contributing editor of Chronicles, 1985-1997.

SIDELIGHTS: In The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition, E. Christian Kopff argues that the American school curriculum should return to a basic foundation of Latin and Greek. These subjects, he believes, should be taught with English and math from the earliest grades; such a curriculum would return due emphasis to the classical roots of American linguistic, cultural, and political traditions. The book attracted considerable notice. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found its thesis deeply conservative and its writing filled with "conservative polemics" against multiculturalism, postmodernism, and liberal values. Christopher Stray in Times Literary Supplement also noted this conservative bias, commenting that Kopff's "blend of religion and patriotism may deter some readers from engagement with his arguments." Yet Stray concluded that, despite its dogmatism, The Devil Knows Latin is "often convincing." Booklist writer Ray Olson particularly appreciated Kopff's discussion of films in the book, and observed that "his clean and lively style … constitutes a very cogent arguing point for teaching the classical languages again."

Kopff once told CA: "Classics is an international field, and I … lived in Italy almost five years. My first stay in Italy was spent teaching American students of the classics and fine arts at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome. I plotted for years to come back and finally did as a fellow of the American Academy in Rome. I was lucky enough to make many friends in Italy and develop a feeling for Italian life. Much of my work is involved with the text of the Greek tragedians, examining manuscripts written in the Byzantine Middle Ages and trying to figure out what the authors might have written before ages of miscopying, misunderstanding, and bowdlerism covered it over.

"In the 1990s I began to work with professor Bruno Gentili and the Classical Philology Seminar of the University of Urbino on the survival of the correct line divisions of Greek lyric verse in the medieval manuscripts in order to restore both the text and the ancient vision of meter and music. My scholarly work encouraged me to see the importance of tradition in many other areas, from science to democracy. I have also grown to love the lower echelons of the artistic scale, and I have written on contemporary fiction and movies. I have learned that the pedantic can add to our appreciation of the artistic, that the vulgar can enrich a love for high art, that a family may be as important as a hero. My defense of tradition and my love of popular art came together in the essays that make up The Devil Knows Latin."



Ancient Philosophy, spring, 1997, Rosamond Kent Sprague, review of The Roosevelt Lectures of Paul Shorey: (1913-1914), p. 297.

Booklist, January 1, 1999, Ray Olson, review of The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition, p. 809.

Choice, December, 1999, C. Fantazzi, review of The Devil Knows Latin, p. 716.

Publishers Weekly, December 21, 1998, review of The Devil Knows Latin, p. 48.

Times Literary Supplement, March 5, 1999, Christopher Stray, review of The Devil Knows Latin, p. 32.