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Classics Dept. Hires Prof For Second Time

Luraghi to return to Harvard after three-semester absence

By Joshua P. Rogers, Crimson Staff Writer

In an unusually quick ascent to tenure, Nino Luraghi will rejoin Harvard’s classics department just five years after first arriving in Cambridge as an assistant professor.

Luraghi left behind a tenured associate position at the University of Toronto and declined a full professorship at the University Konstanz in Germany following a heavy push from Harvard to win the onetime junior professor back.

Luraghi’s return to Harvard in the spring follows three semesters away at Toronto, where he headed after leaving Harvard in the fall of 2003. Luraghi is at Oxford University for the summer and was unavailable for comment.

Professor of Greek and Latin Richard F. Thomas said Luraghi’s talent was clear from the time Harvard first considered hiring him, about five years ago.

“We identified him as an obvious star in the applicant pool for the assistant professor level,” said Thomas, who is the chair of the classics department.

Thomas said that the department did what it could to keep Luraghi at Harvard after he arrived here in 1999—and that once he departed, Harvard was eager to get him back.

“We tried to promote him from within, but Toronto didn’t give him much time to accept or decline [in 2003],” Thomas said. “We tried to explore ways of accelerating the tenure process, which is somewhat difficult to do at Harvard.”

Luraghi was lured back to Harvard when Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby offered him the position of full professor. But Thomas said it was not easy convincing Luraghi to return.

“It was a challenge, because he and his wife were from Europe,” Thomas said. “And the honor of being offered a German professorship, where there is only one professor per discipline, is hard to turn down.”

In the spring, Luraghi will teach Greek 107, “Thucydides,” to a mix of graduates and undergraduates. The course will be conducted in Greek, Thomas said, but he said that students untrained in the ancient language should have the opportunity to enjoy Luraghi’s teaching in the future.

“He’s taught courses on translation in the Roman Republic, and whatever the Core morphs into, he’ll be a central player in teaching to the larger undergraduate community on Greek and Roman history,” Thomas said.

Luraghi’s specialty is ancient history and literature, especially in dealing “with the uses of theory for reconstructing historical realities,” Thomas said.

Luraghi has published work mainly on Greek tryanny, focusing on the Archaic Age, as well as on Greek and Roman historiography.

Luraghi’s wife, Susanne Ebbinghaus, will also be returning to Harvard. Ebbinghaus will work part-time doing curatorial work for the Sackler Museum, and will also teach Classical Archaeology 150, “Greek Sculpture,” in spring 2005, said department administrator Theresa T. Wu.

Luraghi was born and raised in Turin, Italy, and received his Ph.D from La Sapienza in Rome. He has pursued several post-doctoral fellowships with the Foundation Luigi Firpo, the University of Turin and the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung fellowship.

Luraghi’s most recent book—Helots and Their Masters in Laconia and Messenia: Histories, Ideologies, Structures, which he edited—was published in January.

—Staff writer Joshua P. Rogers can be reached at

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