A group of 116 colleagues, friends and students from all
over the globe, including many old members of this college and led by Sir
Michael Scholar (former President), Sir Michael Partridge (Lit. Hum. 1956 and
Hon. Fellow), Andrew Edwards (Lit. Hum. 1958), John Robson (Lit. Hum. 1951),
and Ewen Bowie (Woodhouse JRF in Classics 1963-5; Emeritus Fellow in Classics,
Corpus Christi), had commissioned the portrait by artist Mark Hancock to mark his
hugely significant and long-standing contribution to classical scholarship and
to the teaching of Classics at Oxford. They
were joined in this by the current St John’s students, whose Classics society
is named after him.
His portrait will be on indefinite loan from the College to the University’s Classics Faculty and is already on display at the Ioannou Centre of Classical and Byzantine Studies - a particularly fitting home close to portraits of his mentor E.R. Dodds and his contemporary Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones. The excess of collected funds will be donated by the contributors to the College’s Ancient World Fund in Professor Russell’s honour.
Aged 97, Professor Russell continued to teach until as recently as last year, and was clearly touched to be in the company of so many friends, made throughout more than seventy years of his academic career. After speeches by Sir Michael and Corpus Professor of Latin Emeritus, Michael Winterbottom (old pupil from 1954), he responded in an eloquent and moving speech, concluded by an epigram in Ancient Greek:
εἰκόν’ ἐμοῦ Μούσαις ἀνεθήκατε· καὶ χάριν οἶδα
τῆς τιμῆς ἕνεκεν τῆς τε φιλοφροσύνης·
καὶ γὰρ σὺν λογίοις ἔσομαι πάλιν ανδράσιν οἷσι
πολλὰ συνῆν πρότερον πολλὰ διδασκόμενος.
You have dedicated my picture to the Muses.
I am grateful for the honour and the good will,
For I shall once again be with scholars with whom
I formerly spent much time and learned much.