Elaine Fantham was a British-Canadian classicist, professor, and scholar of ancient Greece and Rome. Over her career she worked at the University of St. Andrews Scotland, Indiana University Bloomington, and the University of Toronto before being appointed Giger Professor of Latin at Princeton University, where she remained until her retirement in 2000. Referred to by a colleague as "the grande dame of Latin Studies in the English-speaking world", Elaine was known both for the wide range and for the accessibility of her scholarship.
Elaine wrote numerous commentaries, articles, conference papers, and books on Roman literary and social topics. She appeared on U.S. National Public Radio occasionally to provide comments on classical topics, and presented lectures and conference papers internationally. Considered by fellow experts in the field to be one of the great Latinists of her generation, much of Elaine's work was concerned with the intersection of literature and Greek and Roman history.
The success of the academic enterprise is to a large part predicated on the personalities involved in it; the professors who make it their business to acquire, preserve, and pass on knowledge. Elaine Fantham was one of the great personalities who over the past few decades have succeeded in giving a public and very human face to Classics. Among her many achievements, this was perhaps the greatest.
Elaine continued to teach until 2009 when problems of health and mobility made it seem advisable to retire from teaching. She continued to actively contribute to keeping the ancient past of Greece and Rome very much alive, right up until her own passing on July 11th of 2016.