MacArthur Fellows Program

Dirk Obbink

Classicist and Papyrologist | Class of 2001

Portrait of Dirk Obbink
Classicist and Papyrologist
Oxford, United Kingdom
44 at time of award
Published October 1, 2001

About Dirk's Work

Dirk Obbink is a scholar of the classics and an expert papyrologist whose work has opened new windows on poetry, society, and philosophy in the classical period. Obbink is expert in the art and craft of rescuing damaged ancient manuscripts from the ravages of nature and time, and in interpreting the words of the authors for modern readers. His work, primarily with literary fragments, requires diligence, knowledge of different dialects of ancient Greek, and the ability to decipher cursive abbreviations scrawled in margins. He is known for editing and publishing a large collection of Greek texts excavated from a philosophical library at Herculaneum, a city buried in the 79 A.D. eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Obbink is the editor of Philodemus and Poetry: Poetic Theory and Practice in Lucretius, Philodemus, and Horace (1995), Philodemus on Piety, Vol. 1 (1996), Philodemus on Piety, Vol. 2 (2003), and Philodemus and the New Testament World (2004). He is also the editor of the continuing series of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri.


Dirk Obbink received a B.A. (1979) from the University of Nebraska and an M.A. (1984) and Ph.D. (1987) from Stanford University. Obbink is a University Lecturer in Papyrology and Greek Literature at the University of Oxford and the Ludwig Koenen Collegiate Professor of Papyrology at the University of Michigan.

Recent News

The Egypt Exploration Society removed Obbink as general editor of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Series in 2016 and banned him from accessing the collection in 2019 due to allegations that Obbink stole and fraudulently sold papyrus fragments belonging to the society. In 2021, Obbink was dismissed from the classics faculty of the University of Oxford.

Last updated June 2021.

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