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Brent Froberg

Picture this: fifty-two years ago, March 1962, the Theta Chapter at Indiana University holds an Eta Sigma Phi Induction Ceremony. A young man, probably in a bow-tie, whose coursework in that second semester of his sophomore year included Virgil’s Aeneid and Elementary Greek, was inducted as a member of our organization. The president of Theta Chapter at the time? A world famous philologist and Homerist now, Gregory Nagy. More than half a century ago, Professor Brent Froberg, as he confesses, at that point in his life had neither any idea that he would, one day, have enjoyed membership in Eta Sigma Phi for more than half of its existence, nor had he any notion that he would have found himself actively involved with Eta Sigma Phi for all of these fifty-two years. In one of our frequent email conversations, Professor Froberg intimated that he had not declared a major at the time of his induction, either. It was Professor Norman Pratt’s nomination for a Ford Foundation Scholarship that gave Professor Froberg the final push to make a decision and declare his major in Classics. The rest is history, you would think, but believe me, it is a history in which Professor Froberg played a vital role in promoting the interests of our association: it is a history that Professor Froberg helped write. And yet I have not provided you with an accurate picture of Professor Froberg’s education, as I have only mentioned the years he spent at his home-state’s school, Indiana University, a few hundred miles south of here. Born in Baltimore, MD, and bred in Valparaiso, IN, home of Valparaiso University, Professor Froberg was led to the appreciation of the Classics from his early years, a pueritia, as his mother, Ruth Froberg, educated her children in the Classical tradition, another Cornelia, as Professor Arthur Stocker once mentioned in the Ovatio she received by CAMWS in 1980. Following in the footsteps of such pedigree, soon afterwards, in 1985, Professor Froberg also received an Ovatio from CAMWS. Professor Froberg completed his Master’s in Classics at Indiana University in 1965 and his PhD in Classics at the Ohio State University in 1972, under the supervision of Robert Lenardon (and with guidance from the late Clarence Forbes and the late Charles Babcock), with a dissertation entitled “The Dramatic Excursuses in Thucydides’ History.” But even before the completion of his thesis, Professor Froberg found himself fully employed in his first academic appointment at the University of Tennessee, in 1968, where Harry Rutledge, a member of the Alpha Tau chapter at Ohio State, had just become the chair of the Classics Department of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Professor Froberg spent most of his professional life at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, succeeding the great Professor Grace Beede, adviser of the Beta Alpha chapter. At USD, Brent reached the rank of Associate Professor in Classics, a program that was unfortunately discontinued in 1996, when Professor Froberg resigned from the University. During his years at USD, from 1970 through 1996, Professor Froberg served as Eta Sigma Phi’s executive secretary, managing the affairs of our association in an exemplary fashion, with sacrificial dedication: by means of his donation to Eta Sigma Phi, the Brent M. Froberg Scholarship was established, helping students who wish to spend their summer studying at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. As Professor Froberg’s favorite author, Thucydides, once said, this legacy is bound to be κτῆμα ἐς ἀεί. By a stroke of good fortune and divine Providence, I had the good luck of meeting Professor Froberg and his wife, Gail, in August 2001, when he and I joined the Classics Department at Baylor University and co-advised its Gamma Omega local chapter. We had the blessing of working with amazing students. I learned a lot from Brent: I have enjoyed our countless conversations in our respective offices and beyond, I have picked his brain very often about crucial issues, personal and professional, and I have indulged in learning all about the so-and-so meeting of Eta Sigma Phi or CAMWS in the Spring of 1973, or 1981, or 1985. We all know that Professor Froberg knows by heart and remembers even the minutest details of the proceedings of each and every meeting of our Society. Professor Froberg has the unsurpassable ability to transfer you mentally to all these meetings, to introduce you to people long gone whom you would never have had to chance to meet (including Sir Ronald Syme), but who come back to life by means of Brent’s stories and anecdotes. But above all, Professor Froberg is well known to every single one of us (besides his elegant bow-ties), because of his good humor, boundless generosity, and limitless energy. He is a model for all of us. On behalf of our Society, then, we would like to offer you, Brent Froberg, this small token, to express our appreciation, admiration, respect, and enthusiasm that you continue to serve us in manifold ways, and we would like to warn you that of course we expect you to continue to do so for the next fifty years. Plaudite quaeso, Brent Froberg.

Antony Augoustakis

 

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