Professor Emerita of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Elizabeth Fisher, former Professor of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies and former chair of the department, received a B.A. in Classics from Northwestern University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Classical Philology from Harvard University; she has been awarded fellowships at The Center for Hellenic Studies and Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies. Her research focuses upon the survival, reception, and reinterpretation of classical literature through translation and imitation, especially in the medieval Greek literary tradition of Byzantium. She has published the Greek text of orations on holy subjects by the 11th-century Byzantine polymath Michael Psellos and translated some of them with annotations (for an example see here). She taught courses on Greek and Latin language, literature, and culture and favors a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding ancient literature and languages in the political and material context of the culture that produced and used them as well as their role in contemporary American life.
Elizabeth Fisher’s most recent publication discussed Greek translations of predictive texts that relate unusual events in the natural world to the politics, warfare, and diseases to be expected in the near future. This widely popular genre originated in ancient Babylon and eventually expanded to include examples in Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Latin, Arabic, and Gaelic.
She is currently working on two separate projects involving late medieval Greek translations. One is for a collected volume on knowledge of Greek and Latin languages among scholars and international traders in the eastern Mediterranean during the 13th Century. The second examines the theory and practice of translation associated with the 6th -century Latin scholar Boethius (d. ca. 525) and practiced by two 13th-century Greek scholars who used his work, Manuel Holobolos (d. ca. 1310) and Maximos Planoudes (d. ca. 1305).