Jan. 25, 2001 Vol . 20, No. 2
By Julie Ovenell-Carter
Anyone who thinks ancient Greek is a dead language hasn't heard David Mirhady (above) parse a sentence in song. "The teaching of the classical languages can be made a lot more fun," says Mirhady, who last fall became the first classicist to be appointed to a faculty position at SFU.
To illustrate his point, the normally soft-spoken Mirhady launches a lesson in ancient Greek grammar, reciting the language's six principal parts to the tune of Good King Wenceslas.
Mirhady's passion for the classical world -- and classical philosophy, in particular -- was ignited when he read the Apology of Socrates as a second year UBC student. " ďAll that I know is that I know nothing' -- that was a terrific idea for an idealistic 17-year-old to sink his teeth into," recalls Mirhady with a smile.
After a year in Athens, where he studied ancient philosophy and Greek, Mirhady graduated from UBC in 1982 with a BA in philosophy. He earned a MA in classics from UBC, and his PhD from Rutgers University in New Jersey, with a thesis on Greek political theory.
Mirhady brings diverse experience to his new teaching position. After Rutgers, he taught courses in both classical literature and history at Dalhousie University, the University of Alberta, the University of Lethbridge, and the University of Calgary.
As an assistant professor in SFU's humanities department, Mirhady will continue his research on ancient law and rhetoric. He will also teach mythology, Athenian democracy, Roman culture, Latin and other subjects that provide the foundation for a university liberal arts education. "I've worn a lot of hats in my various jobs," he says. "I think that flexibility will serve me well here."
Mirhady says, "There is no lack of interest at SFU for courses in classical antiquity. My experience has always been that my courses are packed long before I teach them. By May, the September course is full. There's a huge pent-up interest from students across the university for this material.
"These courses give a wonderful cultural context for so many other subjects. In humanities, we are trying to look in various ways at the human condition. Classical antiquity offers a first look in that continuum. I think that any exposure to Greek or Latin can make a world of difference to how students think about the world and express themselves."
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