13 November 2002 |

Phillip Damon
Phillip Damon, professor emeritus of comparative literature, considered an expert on the influence and heritage of the classics in the medieval period, has died at the age of 80.
Damon, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade, died at his Berkeley home on Oct. 22.

A native of Fullerton, Calif., Damon attended the Raenford Academy near Encino in the San Fernando Valley. He earned three degrees at Berkeley, interrupting his education to serve as an Air Force navigator in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he returned to Berkeley, earning his Ph.D. in English in 1942 with a dissertation on medieval Latin poetry.

Damon also attended the Universite de Laval in Quebec and the Sorbonne in Paris.

Colleagues described him as quiet, reserved, an insatiable reader of modern and classic literature, and one of the most intelligent people they ever encountered. “He was both modern and medieval,” said Kenneth Weisinger, professor emeritus of comparative literature and a longtime friend of Damon. “He was just such a Renaissance person.”

During his academic career, Damon taught English, French, comparative literature, and classics. His first teaching position was in English at Cornell University, and his second was at Harpur College of Arts and Science at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. He also taught Greek and Latin at Ohio State University, and English and classics at UC Santa Barbara, Stanford University, and UC Berkeley.

He began teaching at Berkeley in 1966 and became chair of the Department of Comparative Liter-ature a year later. Damon remained in Berkeley until 1974, when he left to teach at Stanford for two years before returning to the Berkeley campus. He retired in 1991.

Damon was the author of numerous essays about Dante’s use of classical mythology and a variety of essays about classical and medieval subjects. He wrote “Modes of Analogy in Ancient and Medieval Verse” and edited the English Institute volume, “Literary Criticism and Historical Under-standing.”

In addition to his wife, Carol, of Berkeley, Damon is survived by a daughter, Celia, of Berkeley; a son, Gordon, also of Berkeley; and a brother, William, of New York City. At his request, no memorial service will be held.


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