College of Liberal Arts

Classics Professor Emeritus Douglass Parker Dies

Fri, Feb 11, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — Douglass Parker, professor emeritus of classics, died Feb. 8 at the age of 83. He taught at the university for 40 years.

Parker taught classes in Greek and Latin languages and literature at all levels, a wide range of courses in classical civilization, and special offerings on the theory and practice of translation. He also taught a unique course on parageography, the study of imaginary worlds.

Parker’s translations of the comedic plays of Aristophanes are widely available and have been performed around the globe. He co-authored several publications including “Lysistrata,” “Congresswomen,” and “Five Comedies.” A review of his Roman comedy translations is available online at the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. 

Parker, who was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 1984, had a passion for jazz music, and played the trombone throughout his life. His band played at many events in Austin and had a monthly performance at the Retirement and Nursing Center on Burnet Lane.  

 “The wide world knows him best as a dazzling translator of ancient comedy, from exhilarating versions of Aristophanes to vibrant renewals of Plautus and Terence,” said Stephen White, chairman of the Department of Classics. “Many here know him far better as a great-hearted soul of scintillating wit, profound humanity, oceanic learning, bountiful imagination, boundless goodwill, and mighty good chops on the horn; also a brilliantly creative teacher, silly wise colleague, and our unofficial poet laureate. Who knew him count themselves fortunate and will miss him dearly.”

Well known for his love of teaching, Parker received the Graduate Teaching Award in 1985 and the UTmost Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1986.

“Douglass Parker was the greatest humanist I ever met,” said Tom Palaima, professor of classics. “He had an extraordinary gift as a poet and as a performer. While he was with us, I always told freshman students that there was one professor they should make sure to take a class from: Douglass Parker.”

Visit Dr. Parker’s memorial page for further information and to share comments or stories.


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