Yale classicist and historian Donald Kagan died this past August. In the current (October) issue of the New Criterion his former student Paul Rahe draws on his long relationship with Professor Kagan for the tribute “Donald Kagan, 1932–2021.” It is a moving portrait of a great teacher. Indeed, one can infer the qualities of a great teacher from Rahe’s portrait. It is worth reading and thinking through on that ground alone.
Professor Kagan gave the 2005 Jefferson Lecture under the auspices of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is posted here along with related materials. Upon his retirement from Yale in 2013 Professor Kagan gave a valedictory lecture on liberal education to a capacity audience in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall in New Haven. The New Criterion published it as “Ave atque vale.”
Professor Kagan lives on in his thousands of students. My daughter Eliana gave her own student’s eye view here. He also lives on in his many books. Among the books are his classic four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War, his one-volume history of the war for the non-professional reader, and On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace, the last of which Professor Rahe discusses in his tribute.