In Memoriam of Professor Emerita Elizabeth S. Belfiore

Elizabeth S. Belfiore

With great sadness the Department announces the recent loss of our dear colleague, prolific scholar and admired teacher, Professor Emerita Elizabeth S. Belfiore. Betty died peacefully in hospice on Nov. 7, attended by her husband Peter and son Michael. She was 79. The cause of death was a fast-developing cancer.

Betty taught the Greek language at all levels, from beginning Greek to graduate seminars, as well as courses in Greek culture, literature in translation, and ancient philosophy. She was also much in demand as a graduate advisor, serving on a total of more than 100 M.A. and Ph.D. committees. Her two main research interests were ancient philosophy and Greek tragedy, and her many publications generally focused on the intellectual intersection between these two traditions. 

Betty’s earliest book was Tragic Pleasures: Aristotleon Plot and Emotion (Princeton 1992), subsequently translated into Italian as Il piacere del tragico: Aristotele e la poetica. (Jouvence, 2003). This book offered an entirely new interpretation of the famously controversial notion of tragic catharsis in Aristotle’s Poetics. She illuminated the term’s aesthetic usage by reference to Aristotle’s discussion of allopathic physical agents in his biological writings. Eight years later she published Murder Among Friends:Violation of Philia in Greek Tragedy. (Oxford 2000), a study that implicates the theme of social pathology, specifically the violation of “friendship” obligations as an underlying dynamic in tragic plots. A third book was Socrates'Daimonic Art: Love for Wisdom in Four Platonic Dialogues  (Cambridge 2012). Here she proposed a broadened conception of Plato’s Socratic eros. Taking the theme of eros as more than just a metaphor of philosophical inquiry she demonstrates that it also adumbrates the fulfillment of that quest. 

In addition to her books Betty  published over thirty articles, some of which were reprinted in other collections, and over thirty reviews. She presented over forty invited papers at prestigious universities in this country and England, France, Norway, the Netherlands, and Brazil. She was indefatigably generous in her professional service to us, to other institutions, and to the profession. We shall miss her greatly.


George A. Sheets

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