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Moses Hadas (1900-1966)

Moses Hadas was an American teacher, one of the leading classical scholars of the twentieth century, and a translator of numerous works.

Raised in Atlanta in a Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish household, his early studies included rabbinical training; he graduated from Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1926) and took his doctorate in classics in 1930. He was fluent in Yiddish, German, ancient Hebrew, ancient Greek, Latin, French, and Italian, and well-versed in other languages.

His most productive years were spent at Columbia University, where he was a colleague of Jacques Barzun and Lionel Trilling. There, he took his talent for languages, combined it with a popularizing impulse, to buck the prevailing classical methods of the day—textual criticism and grammar—presenting classics, even in translation, as worthy of study as literary works in their own right.

This approach may be compared to the New Criticism school: even as the New Critics emphasized close reading, eschewing outside sources and cumbersome apparatus, Hadas, in presenting classical works in translation to an influx of post-war G.I. Bill students, brought forth an appreciation of his domain for those without the specialized training of classicists.

His popularizing impulse led him to embrace television as a tool for education, becoming a telelecturer and a pundit on broadcast television. He also recorded classical works on phonograph and tape.

His daughter Rachel Hadas is a poet, teacher, essayist, and translator.

"I have read your book and much like it."
"This book fills a much-needed gap."

        — in a review

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