A native of Fullerton, Calif., Damon attended the Raenford
Academy near Encino in the San Fernando Valley. He earned
three degrees at UC 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
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,
UC Berkeley professor emeritus of comparative literature
and a longtime friend of Damon's. "He was just such a Renaissance
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
He began teaching at UC Berkeley in 1966 and became chair
of the Department of Comparative Literature 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 Understanding."
Carol Damon said her husband loved city walking and his
In addition to his wife, Carol, of Berkeley; Phillip Damon
is survived by a daughter, Celia, of Berkeley; a son, Gordon,
also of Berkeley; and a brother, William, of New York City.
Damon requested that there be no memorial service.