Oliver, Revilo P. (Revilo Pendleton) (1910-) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Oliver, Revilo P. (Revilo Pendleton) (1910-)

Historical Note:

Revilo Pendleton Oliver (1908-1994) was instructor (1940-42); assistant professor (1945-47); associate professor (1947-53); and professor of classics (1953-77) at the University of Illinois (UI). A UI-educated scholar of classical philology, Oliver is widely remembered as a founding member of the John Birch Society as well as for his political writing expressing fringe right-wing and white-nationalist ideas and conspiracy theories.

Oliver was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, on July 7, 1908. He earned a bachelor's degree from Pomona College in 1927. At UI, he earned a master's degree (1933) and a PhD (1940) for his dissertation "Niccolo Perotti's Translation of 'The Enchiridion'" (1940), completed under Professor William Abbott Oldfather. Oliver became an instructor of classics at UI, and he was known as a talented linguist who could read eleven languages. He learned Sanskrit in high school and his first publication was an annotated translation of Mricchakatika (The Little Clay Cart) in the UI Press in 1938. During WWII, Oliver served as research analyst in the US War Department in Washington, D.C., (1942-45). Following his participation in the war effort, he was a Guggenheim post-service fellow (1946-47) as well as a Fulbright fellow (1953-54). He obtained a full professorship at UI in 1953. Oliver's academic publications include Petrarch's Prestige as Humanist (1943), "A Standard Pronunciation of Latin" (1949), Niccolo Perotti's Version of the Enchiridion of Epictetus (ed., 1954), and "The Second Medicean Ms. and the Text of Tacitus" (1976). He also published politically charged opinion pieces on contemporary issues. In 1958, he became a founding member of the John Birch Society, an anti-communist and pro-limited-government group widely viewed as extremist for its propagation of fringe and conspiracy theories. Oliver's notorious 1964 article "Marxmanship in Dallas" in the group's American Opinion magazine attracted widespread condemnation for its post-assassination claim that President John F. Kennedy was involved in a communist conspiracy. It prompted a statement from the UI Board of Trustees that distanced the university from Oliver's personal views.     

Oliver married Grace Needham in 1930. He died in Urbana, Illinois, on August 20, 1994.


Wikipedia, s.v. "Revilo P. Oliver," accessed May 20, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revilo_P._Oliver.

"OLIVER, Revilo Pendleton," Database of Classical Scholars, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, accessed May 20, 2020, https://dbcs.rutgers.edu/all-scholars/8987-oliver-revilo-pendleton.

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