Shorey, Paul, 1857-1934

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Professor of Greek Language and Literature, University of Chicago.

From the description of Papers, 1865-1934. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52248419

American classical scholar.

Born in Iowa in 1857, Shorey graduated from Harvard, then studied in Europe. He taught at Bryn Mawr, 1885-1892, and then the University of Chicago, 1892-1927, where he was the first professor of Greek. Shorey published extensively on Plato and Aristotle and the Greek metrics. He also was managing editor of Classical Philology, and gave the University of California Sather Lectures several times between 1916 and 1929. Shorey died in 1934.

From the description of Paul Shorey letters, 1914-1915. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 427893196

Paul Shorey, Professor of Greek Language and Literature, was born on August 3, 1857, in Davenport, Iowa. The family moved to Chicago in 1865 where his father, Daniel Lewis Shorey, established a successful law practice and eventually was elected alderman. In 1874, Paul entered Harvard, his father's alma mater, where he undertook a course of classics, history and philosophy, graduating with highest honors in those fields. After his graduation in 1878, he studied law with his father and was admitted to the bar in 1879. For the next two years, the younger Shorey was employed as a notary public and the director of the Des Moines and Minneapolis Railroad Company, but he became bored with the legal profession and, in 1881, began advanced studies in the classics as a non-matriculating student at the University of Leipzig under a Kirkland Fellowship from Harvard. In 1882-83, Shorey was among the members of the first class of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. There was no formal course of study at that time, but he was interested enough to enroll at the University of Munich in the fall of 1883. After some disagreement with the faculty there over the suitability of his proposed thesis subjects, he convinced Wilhelm von Christ to direct his research, and was awarded the Ph.D. in 1884. His dissertation was titled, De Platonis idearum doctrina atque mentis humanae notionibus commentatio.

Despite his superior abilities and credentials, Paul Shorey had difficulty finding a professional position; while investigating academic possibilities, he wrote reviews and considered working on a literary journal. In 1885, however, the dean of the newly founded women's college, Bryn Mawr, offered him an assistant professorship in Latin and philosophy. The association was one which Shorey would afterward remember fondly: he enjoyed his teaching responsibilities and was quickly promoted to a full professorship. The publication of his first article in a professional journal, The American Journal of Philology, led to a close friendship with the editor, Basil Gildersleeve, one of the country's foremost classical scholars.

In 1885, Judge Daniel Shorey had moved to Hyde Park where he made the acquaintance of William Rainey Harper, who was then on the faculty of the Baptist Seminary in Morgan Park. Judge Shorey became a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago in 1890; he was the chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee and served on various other committees, sometimes providing informal legal advice, until his death in 1899. Harper recognized in Paul Shorey the scholarly acumen and initiative necessary to shape a superior faculty and program at the proposed university and offered to make him head professor of either Greek or philosophy; Shorey served as the head of the Greek department until 1927, while also presiding over the editorial board of Classical Philology, the department's prestigious journal, from 1906 to 1934. In 1895, he married one of his graduate students, Emma Large Gilbert. Miss Gilbert had come to the University on a fellowship to study Latin with William Gardner Hale, Shorey's colleague in Latin.

In 1896, Paul Shorey published his first non-classical article, "Present Conditions of Literary Production." In the years that followed, Shorey gained a nation-wide reputation as a man of letters and an eloquent spokesman for education. "The Case for the Classics" was published in 1910, the same year that he served as president of the American Philological Association. Seven years later, "The Assault on Humanism" thrust Shorey into the limelight in a debate over the philosophy, methods, and aims of education in the modern world with such advocates of the "new" education as Abraham Flexner, Charles Eliot, and John Dewey. Throughout his career, Shorey was much sought after as a popular speaker for dinner meetings, commencements and clubs, and his articles and reviews appeared in a wide range of national publications.

Shorey's popularity as a speaker was matched by his success as a professional scholar. His prolific publishing included four major books: Horace: Odes and Epodes, The Unity of Plato's Thought, What Plato Said, and the Loeb edition of Plato's Republic. A fifth, What Plato Meant, was in the planning stage when he died. Shorey held numerous visiting professorships and delivered many series of addresses on the classics, Plato, and Aristotle, comparative literature and philosophy, and cultural history. In 1911, he delivered six lectures on "Greek and English Poetry" at the Harrison Foundation of the University of Pennsylvania. These coincided with six lectures on "The Platonic Tradition in Philosophy and Literature" at Columbia University. The following year Shorey was awarded the Percy Turnbull Memorial Lectureship at Johns Hopkins and was also named the Gardiner.

Martin Lane Lecturer at Harvard. In both cases he delivered a series of six lectures, "The Greek Epigram and the Palantine Anthology" as Turnbull Lecturer and "Life and Letters at Athens from Pericles to Alexander" as Lane Lecturer.

Shorey's international reputation as a scholar of Plato and Aristotle resulted in his being named the Roosevelt Exchange Professor in Berlin for the year 1913-14. He directed a graduate seminar on Aristotle's De Anima and lectured extensively on the literary and cultural history of America to a broad public audience. Of at least thirty separate addresses given in Berlin, less than a dozen have survived, and of the graduate seminar itself, only opening and concluding remarks remain. The choice of Shorey for this post was a controversial one: never a man to conceal his opinions, he had made numerous strong criticisms of German scholarship and the attitude that produced and pervaded it. The proposed subject of his seminar was twice rejected by Wilamowitz von Moellendorff before a consensus was reached, and the year began with a great deal of tension on both sides. As newspapers and journals ultimately attested, however, Shorey achieved a great success in Berlin, and his anti-German criticisms were forgotten in the wake of his wit and learning.

In 1916, Shorey delivered both the Lowell Institute lectures in Boston, where he spoke on "Six Aspects of Platonism in European Literature," and the Norman Wait Harris lectures at Northwestern University dealing with the development of ethical and spiritual religion in Greek literature. The latter were greatly revised and presented at a Columbia University summer series of lectures on the permanent value of Greek literature. In 1916, Shorey was also Sather lecturer at Berkeley for the first time; he held this honor three times in all, eventually refusing Benjamin Ide Wheeler's extraordinary offer to make him the "permanent" Sather lecturer. Some of Shorey's Sathers survive in manuscript form, and the third Sather series was revised by Shorey and Costas for publication under the title Platonism: Ancient and Modern. Shorey's Sather topics included "The Broader Aspects of Platonism and its Significance for European Literature" (1916); "Aristotle and Aristotelianism" (1919); and "History of Platonism" (1928). In 1923, the Henry Lynn Moore Foundation invited Shorey to deliver the Dartmouth Alumni Lectures and he responded with a series on "Greek Thinkers and Modern Thought". Shorey traveled to Belgium and France the next year to lecture and to accept an honorary degree from the University of Liège, one of eleven honorary degrees he received in law, language, and letters.

Perhaps no lecture had a more immediate effect on Shorey's career than the one delivered to the Phi Beta Kappa of Cornell University on December 6, 1927, on the subject, "Can an American Be an Optimist?" The publication of this address precipitated an editorial in the New York Times, "Secretaries for Shorey," which coincided with the University of Chicago's receipt of a $250,000 grant from the General Education Board for research in the humanities. Shorey was awarded $25,000 of this grant to fund five years of research on his "Platonic Studies" project which resulted in the publication of the well-received What Plato Said (1933). The General Education Board grant also laid the groundwork for a corresponding treatment of Aristotle which was unfortunately never completed.

In the final years of his life, Shorey continued to teach and lecture and brought to near completion many of the larger scholarly projects of his life: he completed Plato: Republic, Vol. I, for the Loeb Library in 1933, but Platonism: Ancient and Modern and Plato: Republic, Vol. II had to be edited by two of his colleagues, Procope Costas and Stella Lange. In December of 1933, Shorey suffered a paralyzing stroke from which he recovered sufficiently in the following months to return to his office in the quadrangles during the Winter Quarter of 1934. A second stroke in mid-April of that year left him in a coma from which he did not regain consciousness. He died at home in Hyde Park on April 24, 1934; the letters of condolence, tributes and articles that followed demonstrated the quality and the extent of his effect upon his contemporaries.

From the guide to the Shorey, Paul. Papers, 1865-1934, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn John Jay Chapman additional papers, 1841-1940. Houghton Library.
referencedIn George Sarton additional papers, 1901-1956. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Correspondence and compositions, 1870-1963. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Payne, William Morton, 1858-1919. William Morton Payne papers, ca. 1850-1920. Newberry Library
creatorOf Shorey, Paul, 1857-1934. Paul Shorey letters, 1914-1915. Newberry Library
referencedIn William Roscoe Thayer papers, 1762-1927 (inclusive), 1872-1921 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Robert Grant papers, 1809-1940. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Howells family papers, 1850-1954 (inclusive). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Ryerson, Caroline Hutchinson. Papers, 1909 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Ryerson, Caroline Hutchinson. A pageant of Carissma : manuscript, 1909. Texas Christian University
referencedIn Scott Millross Buchanan papers, 1911-1972. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, ca. 1852-ca. 2004 Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Shorey, Paul. Papers, 1865-1934 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Shorey, Paul, 1857-1934. Papers, 1865-1934. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Ryerson, Caroline Hutchinson. A pageant of Carissma : manuscript, 1909. University of Chicago Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Aristotle person
associatedWith Aristotle. person
associatedWith Buchanan, Scott Millross, 1895-1968 person
correspondedWith Chapman, John Jay, 1862-1933 person
correspondedWith Grant, Robert, 1852-1940 person
associatedWith Midwest Manuscript Collection (Newberry Library) corporateBody
associatedWith Newberry Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Payne, William Morton, 1858-1919. person
correspondedWith Pease, Arthur Stanley, 1881- person
associatedWith Plato person
associatedWith Plato. person
associatedWith Ryerson, Caroline Hutchinson person
associatedWith Ryerson, Caroline Hutchinson. person
correspondedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956 person
associatedWith Schäfer, Dietrich, 1845-1929. person
associatedWith Shorey, Daniel Lewis. person
correspondedWith Thayer, William Roscoe, 1859-1923 person
correspondedWith University of Chicago corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Philosophy, Ancient
Manuscripts, American
Greek literature
World War, 1914-1918


Birth 1857-08-03

Death 1934-04-24





Ark ID: w6fn1mr3

SNAC ID: 37477353