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Moses Hadas

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Moses Hadas

Moses Hadas (June 25, 1900 – August 17, 1966) was an American teacher, one of the leading classical scholars of the twentieth century, and a translator of numerous works.

Raised in Atlanta in a Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish household, his early studies included rabbinical training; he graduated from Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1926) and took his doctorate in classics in 1930. He was fluent in Yiddish, German, ancient Hebrew, ancient Greek, Latin, French, and Italian, and well-versed in other languages.

His most productive years were spent at Columbia University, where he was a colleague of Jacques Barzun and Lionel Trilling. There, he took his talent for languages, combined it with a popularizing impulse, to buck the prevailing classical methods of the day—textual criticism and grammar—presenting classics, even in translation, as worthy of study as literary works in their own right.

This approach may be compared to the New Criticism school: even as the New Critics emphasized close reading, eschewing outside sources and cumbersome apparatus, Hadas, in presenting classical works in translation to an influx of post-war G.I. Bill students, brought forth an appreciation of his domain for those without the specialized training of classicists.

His popularizing impulse led him to embrace television as a tool for education, becoming a telelecturer and a pundit on broadcast television. He also recorded classical works on phonograph and tape.

His daughter Rachel Hadas is a poet, teacher, essayist, and translator.

Hadas is credited with two celebrated witticisms:

- "This book fills a much-needed gap."

- "Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I’ll waste no time reading it."

Selected works

  • Sextus Pompey. 1930
  • Book of delight, by Joseph ben Meir Zabara; translated by Moses Hadas; with an introduction by Merriam Sherwood. 1932
  • History of Greek literature. 1950
  • History of Latin literature. 1952.
  • Greek poets. 1953
  • Ancilla to classical reading. 1954
  • Oedipus. translated with an introd. by Moses Hadas. 1955
  • History of Rome, from its origins to 529 A.D., as told by the Roman historians. 1956
  • Thyestes. Translated, with an introduction by Moses Hadas. 1957
  • Stoic philosophy of Seneca; essays and letters of Seneca.. 1958
  • Hellenistic culture: fusion and diffusion. 1959
  • Humanism: the Greek ideal and its survival. 1960
  • Essential works of Stoicism. 1961
  • Old wine, new bottles; a humanist teacher at work. 1962
  • Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Modern abridgment, 1962
  • Hellenistic literature. 1963
  • Style the repository. 1965
  • Heroes and gods; spiritual biographies in antiquity, by Moses Hadas and Morton Smith. 1965
  • Introduction to classical drama. Foreword by Alvin C. Eurich. 1966
  • Living tradition. 1967
  • Solomon Maimon, an autobiography / edited and with a preface by Moses Hadas. 1975


During the fifties, Hadas recorded several albums of Latin and Greek works on Folkways Records.[1]

  • The Story of Virgil's Aeneid: Introduction and Readings in Latin (and English) by Professor Moses Hadas (1955)
  • The Latin Language: Introduction and Reading in Latin (and English) by Professor Moses Hadas of Columbia University (1955)
  • Plato on the Death of Socrates: Introduction with Readings from the Apology and the Phaedo in Greek & in English trans. (1956)
  • Caesar: Readings in Latin and English by Professor Moses Hadas (1956)
  • Cicero: Commentary and Readings in Latin and English by Moses Hadas (1956)
  • Longus - Daphnis and Chloe: Read by Moses Hadas from His Translation (1958)


  1. ^ Hadas Discography at Smithsonian Folkways

External links

  • "The Many Lives of Moses Hadas" by Rachel Hadas, Columbia University Alumni Magazine, Fall 2001
  • Faculty Profile of Moses Hadas - Columbia University
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