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Durham University

Department of Classics and Ancient History


Prof. Martin Ferguson Smith, OBE, MA, MLitt, LittD, FSA, FRGS, FRHistS


Martin Ferguson Smith was Professor of Classics in the Department from 1988 to 1995 (Emeritus Professor thereafter). He is internationally known as an editor and translator of Lucretius and as the discoverer and editor, over half a century, of extensive sections of the gigantic Greek inscription set up in the second century AD by the Epicurean philosopher Diogenes of Oinoanda. The results of his work at Oinoanda, in the mountains of Lycia (southern Turkey), have been presented in five books and numerous articles. He was awarded the international Theodor Mommsen Prize for Herculaneum Papyrology in 2004. As well as remaining active in classical research, including at Oinoanda, he has in recent years produced a considerable quantity of highly original work on the writers Rose Macaulay, Dorothy L. Sayers, Katharine Tynan, and Virginia Woolf, the artists Helen and Roger Fry, the social reformer Madeleine Symons, and Richard Reynolds, schoolmaster and adviser of J.R.R. Tolkien. He was appointed OBE ‘for services to scholarship’ in 2007. Since 1995 he has lived on Foula, a remote (and shopless!) island twenty miles west of the Shetland mainland.