Professor of classics and Orlando W. Qualley Chair of Classical Languages
First year teaching at Luther: 2004
Recent writing: Translated and edited the political writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero for a book called "How to Run a Country: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians" from Princeton University Press.
In the limelight: Interviewed on NPR's "All Things Considered" and gave talks on Roman politics around the country.
Study abroad: Recently led a tour of historically prominent metropolises in the Mediterranean. The course is Luther's first to rely primarily on water transportation.
Though Philip leads a neatly organized scholarly life (even the toy gladiator figurines in his office are carefully arranged), his approach to the study of classical history is fairly free-form. In fact, he dropped out of Latin the first time he tried it as an undergrad.
Eventually, however, the "dead" languages of the ancient world won him over, and by the time he started teaching at Harvard and other major research universities, he was hooked for a few simple reasons.
"In a nutshell, the study of classics teaches you where you come from culturally," he says. "It also lets you use big words in English and know what they mean."
When he's not working on an academic edition of St. Patrick's letters--in Latin--he's organizing lectures by preeminent classical scholars and buying campaign buttons for the growing faction of classics students on campus. One button, "Quidquid," translates as the glib "Whatever." Another proclaims "I love Latin" and touts a big smiley face.
"People of my generation, who were forced to learn these things, are astounded that today's students come to college really liking the languages and classical history, even if they know only that they loved the movie Gladiator."
"The truth is, classics is a great foundation for law, medicine, ministry, archaeology--just about any field. There's always something new to learn. I can't imagine doing anything else."