Prof. Gabriel Danzig
After an exciting childhood in Montclair New Jersey, Gabriel attended the University of Chicago for his B.A. degree. His teachers for the core humanities and social sciences sequences were Amy and Leon Kass. Inspired by their superlative teaching and by the extraordinary subject matter they presented, Gabriel devoted an unusual amount of time to these classes, and expressed an interest in further studies. Mr. Kass suggested that he study with Alan Bloom because "his students go far." Although this was not Gabriel's aim at the time, he took the advice and found himself taking courses with one of the most fascinating teachers of his generation. In his second year, Gabriel camped out on the campus grounds in the yearly registration ritual in order to register for the Western Civilizations sequence being taught by Prof. Karl Weintraub. Prof. Weintraub also noticed that Gabriel was deeply interested in the subject matter, and especially in the world of ancient Greece. He recommended that Gabriel study Greek and Latin as providing the best basis for understanding the thought of Western Civilization. In the Classics department, Gabriel studied with Prof. Arthur Adkins and Prof. James Redfield who also served as his thesis adviser. Although neither of them gave Gabriel any specific advice, they offered rich ideas and approaches to classical studies that have guided his research ever since.
After completing his B.A. (actually it is called an A.B. at Chicago), Gabriel continued his studies in the department of Greek at Bryn Mawr college. This was a sobering experience, since there was little emphasis on the ideas of the ancient Greeks and much more on addressing problems and difficulties in the scholarship on ancient Greek literature. Gabriel acquired some very valuable analytic tools as well as gaining a much better grasp of the research being done in Classics. Gabriel completed his M.A. thesis on Sophocles' Ajax under the direction of Gregory Dickerson, and then returned to the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought to continue his education. In the meantime, he had become interested in the Hebrew classics. Having randomly opened a translation of the Mishnah, Gabriel was appalled to find out that he could not understand even the first sentence (From when do they say "Hear" in the evening?). Determined not to remain a complete boor as regards his own tradition, he travelled to Haifa for a summer Ulpan in his first attempt to learn modern Hebrew. He still knew nothing about ancient Jewish civilization. Indeed, he had first seen a pair of Tefillin in a picture by Marc Chagall hanging in the Louvre! This may be the first time in history that a Jewish person learned about Tefillin in precisely this manner. Although the Committee on Social Thought is not known for its Judaic studies, it gave Gabriel the leeway to take classes in the Divinity school with people such as Randall Garr (Aramaic), Jon Levenson (Bible) and Norman Golb (Rashi and Ibn Ezra). Combining his interests in classical philosophy with his new-found interest in Judaics, Gabriel began to study Maimonides on his own, and took classes on him with Ralph Lerner and Josef Stern. Given the relative paucity of Judaic studies classes at Chicago, Gabriel spent a year, and then a second year, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he studied with Aviezer Ravitsky, W. Z. Harvey and Sarah Strumza. He was still officially registered as a student at the Committee, but he had now been absent for two years from Chicago. Moreover, he had learned that some of the resolutely secular members of the committee were uncomfortable with his adopting the outward marks of Judaism -- specifically his wearing of a yarmulka or kippa as it is known in Hebrew. This surprised him, as one of the central tenets of the political theories he had studied at Chicago was that outward conformity is no sign of inner conviction. Given the warm reception he had received at Hebrew University and its excellent Judaic faculty (as well as the generous stipend he was offered) Gabriel decided to transfer to the Hebrew University and submit his dissertation on Maimonides' Guide to Aviezer Ravitsky. Oddly enough, it appears to have been the first dissertation on the Guide ever done at Hebrew University.
While still working on the dissertation, Gabriel met a lovely girl named Rachele Green, whom he married and with whom he has eight children (may there be no evil eye!). About this time, he was also offered a job in the classics department at Bar Ilan University. Although he had been researching Jewish studies for some years now, he was actually relieved in some ways to be teaching Classics rather than Jewish studies, where ideological conflicts can be somewhat fierce. In particular, he found that the rising tide of pluralism was, paradoxically enough, pushing all the more interesting ideologies out of the public space. Classics seemed to be a safe place to continue to study and teach the more interesting material without offending the pluralists. Since then he has been teaching classics and philosophy in the departments of classics and philosophy at Bar Ilan, and enjoying it very much.
He has written on Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon and Herodotus. His chief interest right now is analyzing the ethical and political concepts of Xenophon. Many of his papers can be found on Academia.edu.
- Socratic Dialogues, (Heb.) Shalem Press, 2000.
- Apologizing for Socrates, Lexington Books, 2010.
- “Epicurus and Epicureanism in Jewish Literature,” in The Oxford Handbook of Epicureanism, forthcoming.
- “The Best of the Achaemenids: Benevolence, Self-interest and the Ironic reading of the Cyropaedia” in Xenophon: Historical Method and Moral Principle, ed. C Tuplin, Brill, Forthcoming.
- “Big Boys and Little Boys: Justice and Law in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia and Memorabilia,” Polis, 2009.
- “Rhetoric and the Ring: Herodotus and Plato on the Story of Gyges as a Politically Expedient Tale,” Greece and Rome, 2008, 169-192.
- “What’s Wrong with Tissaphernes? Xenophon’s Views on Lying and Breaking Oaths,” in C.J.Tuplin (ed.), Persian Responses: Political and Cultural Interaction with(in) the Achaemenid Empire, Swansea: The Classical Press of Wales, 2007, 27-50.
- “The Image of Socrates in Jewish Hellenistic and Medieval Literature,” in Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, ed. Michael Trapp, Ashgate, 2007, 143-159.
- “Crito and the Socratic Controversy,” Polis, 2006, 21-45.
- “Intra-Socratic Polemics: The Symposia of Plato and Xenophon,” Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, 2005, 331-357.
- “Apologetic Elements in Xenophon's Symposium,” Classica et Mediaevalia, 55, 2005, 17-48.
- “Why Socrates was not a Farmer: The Oeconomicus of Xenophon as a Philosophical Dialogue,” Greece and Rome, 2003, 57-76.
- “Apologizing for Socrates: Plato and Xenophon on Socrates’ Behavior in Court,” Transactions of the American Philological Association, 2003, 281-321.
- “La prétendue rivalité entre Platon et Xenophon,” Revue française d'histoire des idées politiques, Les Lois de Platon, 2002, 351-368. (A shorter English version was published as “Did Plato Read Xenophon’s Cyropaedia?” in The Laws: Selected papers from the VI Symposium Platonicum, ed. Samuel Scolnicov and Luc Brisson, St. Augustin: Academia Verlag, 2003, 286-297.)
- with David M. Schaps, “The Economy: What Plato Wanted and What he Saw”, in Francisco Lisi, ed., I International Congress on Ancient Thought: Plato's Laws and their Historical Significance (Academia Verlag, Sankt Augustin, 2001), 143-147.
- “The Political Character of Aristotelian Reciprocity”, Classical Philology 95 (2000), 399-424.
- “True Justice in the Republic”, Illinois Classical Studies 23 (1998), 85-99.
- Review of D. Leibowitz, The Ironic Defense of Socrates: Plato's Apology, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2011.05.18, 3000 words.
- Review of M. Narcy and A. Tordesillas, Xenophon et Socrate, J. Vrin, Paris, 2008. Classical Review 2010
- Review of Louis-André Dorion, Michele Bandini, Xénophon Mémorables. Tome 1. Introduction générale, Livre I. Collection Budé, Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2000. Bryn Mawr Classical Review, May 2005 (3463 words).
History of Ancient Philosophy (46-385-01)
Readings in Ancient Philosophy (46-585-01)
Plato (Greek reading course)
Greek Political Thought
- Last modified: 8/09/2022