Turyn, Alexander (1900-1981) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Turyn, Alexander (1900-1981)

Historical Note:

Alexander Turyn (1900-1981) was visiting professor (1945-47), professor (1947-69), and professor emeritus (1969-81) of classics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He was a preeminent codicologist and paleographer, who specialized in the textural transmission of the Greek tragedies.

Turyn was born in Warsaw, Poland, on December 26, 1900. He studied classics at the University of Warsaw with Tadeusz Zielinski (1959-1944), earning a Ph.D. in 1923. He then conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Berlin with Wilamowitz (1848-1931) from 1923 to 1925 before accepting a position as instructor of classics at the University of Warsaw (1925-39). Upon the outbreak of WWII in 1939, Turyn left Poland and undertook research at the Vatican Library in Rome, Italy, and, later, in Athens, Greece, ultimately emigrating to the United States in 1941. He worked as a lecturer at the University of Michigan (1941-42) and as associate professor at The New School for Social Research (1942-45) before arriving at UIUC in 1945. Turyn's research interests over the course of his career included codicology, manuscripts, paleography, and the Greek tragedies. Among his publications were "Studies in the Manuscript Tradition of Aeschylus'' (1943), ''Studies in the Manuscript Tradition of the Tragedies of Sophocles'' (1952), and ''The Byzantine Manuscript Tradition of the Tragedies of Euripides'' (1957). He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1959 and research collaborator for the Vatican Library (1960-66). Turyn became a member of the Center for Advanced Studies at UIUC in 1962. He was widely recognized during his lifetime, including with the Golden Cross of the Order of the Phoenix from the Greek Government (1934); corresponding membership to the Polish Academy in Krakow (1946); membership on the Board of Scholars of the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies (1956-62); membership in Epistemonike Hetaireia of Athens (1957); the Goodwin Award of Merit (1960) from the American Philological Association; a honorary doctorate from the University of Athens (1965); and the Award of Merit from the Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation (1978).

Turyn married Felicia Leontine Sachs in 1926 and together they had a son, Andrew. Turyn became a United States citizen in 1946, and he died in Urbana, Illinois, on August 26, 1981.


"ALEXANDER TURYN, 80, SCHOLAR," August 31, 1981, New York Times, accessed May 20, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/1981/08/31/obituaries/alexander-turyn-80-scholar.html.

John Viao, "TURYN, Alexander," Database of Classical Scholars, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, accessed May 20, 2020, https://dbcs.rutgers.edu/all-scholars/9189-turyn-alexander.

Miroslav Marcovich, "Alexander Turyn," Gnomon 54, no. 1 (1982): 97­-98, accessed May 20, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27688007?seq=1.

Wikipedia, s.v. "Alexander Turyn," accessed May 20 2020, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Turyn.

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