In his new collection Cut These Words into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs (Johns Hopkins University Press), Michael Wolfe ’68 brings together his English translations of ancient Greek epitaphs, with a foreword by Richard Martin, a classics professor at Stanford University. Greek epitaphs, considered by some scholars to be the earliest artful writing in Western Europe, are short celebrations of the lives of a rich cross section of society that help form a vivid portrait of an ancient era.
Wolfe divides his book into five chronological sections spanning 1,000 years, beginning with the Late Archaic and Classical periods and ending with Late Antiquity. The book also features contextual comments, notes, biographies of the poets, and a bibliography. General readers should find this well-researched scholarly endeavor accessible and entertaining, as it covers a wide variety of individuals and even some animals.
At Wesleyan, Wolfe studied classics, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. While writing this book, Wolfe drew on several deep Wesleyan ties: Andy Gaus ’68, Wolfe’s classmate and friend of many years, helped review and improve many of the translations; poet Richard Wilbur, with whom Wolfe studied, wrote a comment included on the back cover of the book; and Kevin Whitfield, Wolfe’s professor of Greek, is thanked in the dedication.
Wolfe is a poet, author, and film producer who has taught writing and literature at Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of California, as well as other secondary schools and universities. An occasional speaker on Islamic issues, he and his works have received many awards.