Remembering Traianos Gagos

On 24 April 2010, Traianos Gagos, Professor of Greek and Papyrology at the University of Michigan and Archivist of Papyrology in the University of Michigan Library, passed away as a result of an accident at his home. He was only 49. The loss of this beautiful man, this incredibly vibrant and generous human being—a dear friend—remains rather difficult for me to accept. But my own grief pales in comparison to the damage done to papyrology: Traianos was a towering figure in the field. An outstanding editor, rarely stumped by a text, he was also present at the creation of many of the research tools that papyrologists now take for granted. Perhaps more critically, Traianos was a gifted teacher, ever ready to share his knowledge and resources, and through his efforts students of all stripes, from broadly diverse levels of education and walks of life, were able to encounter ancient texts, often at first hand. The lives of more than a few were transformed by the experience.

This past weekend Traianos’ Michigan colleagues hosted a conference “to celebrate and explore the ways in which Traianos changed and improved the teaching of papyrology.” I was honored to be invited to participate and presented a paper entitled “Teaching Papyrology in the Post-APIS Era.” (APIS is a digital “union catalogue” of papyri and was co-founded by Traianos.) My paper paid tribute to Traianos’ vision and leadership in the realm of digital papyrology and indicated how my own teaching had been impacted by APIS and the virtuosic example that Traianos set for us all. It included a discussion of my current CHS project (see further here), with special emphasis on the deployment of my “multi-layered” edition in the classroom.