In memoriam: Gordon Willis Williams

A memorial service will be held on Friday, Oct. 8, for Gordon Willis Williams, an authority on Roman literature and poetry and the Thacher Professor Emeritus of Latin Literature at Yale, who died on Aug. 28. He was 84 years old.

The service will take place at 3 p.m. in Rm. 211 of the Hall of Graduate Studies, 320 York St. A reception will follow.

A member of the Yale faculty since 1974, Williams wrote a series of articles in the 1950s that dealt with aspects of Roman social history and the position of women. These were followed in 1968 by his “Tradition and Originality in Roman Poetry,” a book that continued to be influential for classicists. His other publications include a book of Horace’s Odes, a briefer edition of “Tradition and Originality,” and the books “Change and Decline: Roman Literature in the Early Empire,” “Figures of Thought in Roman Poetry” and “Technique and Ideas in the Aeneid.”

Williams traveled all over the world to give lectures and teach specialized seminars. In addition to teaching undergraduates, he directed many graduate student dissertations during his long Yale career.

Born in Dublin in 1926, Williams was educated at Trinity College in Dublin and at the University of Oxford. Before coming to Yale, he was a fellow and tutor at Balliol College, Oxford, and Professor of Humanity at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland. In 1973 he was invited to deliver the Sather Lectures at Berkeley.

Williams is survived by his wife, Jeanne C. Williams; his son, Stephen W. Williams; a daughter, Vivienne Gatter; and two grandsons, Richard and Patrick.

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