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Hadas, Moses


HADAS, MOSES (1900–1966), U.S. classical scholar and humanist. After graduating from Emory University, Hadas proceeded to Columbia University, at the same time pursuing studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, from which he received his rabbinical diploma. Appointed instructor in Greek at the former institution in 1925, he became associate professor in 1946 and full professor in 1953. Three years later he was elected to the prestigious John Jay Chair in Greek, which he occupied until his death. During World War ii he served with the Office of Strategic Services in North Africa and Greece.

Hadas' cardinal contribution to classical studies in the United States was to bring them out of the narrower confines of textual criticism into the broad area of general humanistic interest. This he did through a series of spirited and elegant renderings of the Greek dramatists and romances (e.g., Heliodorus) and of Caesar, Tacitus, Seneca, and other writers. He also wrote popular histories of Greek and Latin literature (1950, 1952); a broad, if sometimes controversial, survey of the Greco-Roman age, entitled Hellenistic Culture: Fusion and Diffusion (1959); a study (with Morton Smith) of classical aretalogy; and, in a lighter vein, an entertaining ancilla to classical reading. Many of these works appeared in inexpensive paperback editions, and thus introduced the ancient masterpieces to the general reader.

Hadas was a major figure at Columbia University. Through the humanity of his writings and the urbane temper of his character and outlook, he left an indelible impression on several generations of students and readers alike, and he was among the foremost to remove the traditional fustian from classical studies.

Outside of the classical field, Hadas produced, among other works, a delightful rendering of Joseph ben Meir *Ibn Zabara's Book of Delight (1932) and Fables of a Jewish Aesop (1966), a translation of the fox fables of the 12th century *Berechiah ha-Nakdan. In his earlier years he was prominently identified with the Menorah movement in American universities.

[Theodor H. Gaster]

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