"Goodbye" to our beloved Professor Grigoris Sifakis
Professor Grigoris Sifakis, honorary member of the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) and the first Director of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies (IMS), passed away on Saturday, June 17, 2023, at the age of 88. Grigoris M. Sifakis was born in Heraklion in 1935 and studied at the University of Athens in the 1950s and at the University of London in the 1960s. He specialized in ancient drama under the supervision of the renowned English professor Thomas Bertram Lonsdale Webster, who, among other achievements, founded the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of London in 1953. Sifakis' doctoral dissertation focused on the two centers of worship of Apollo, Delphi and Delos, during the Hellenistic period.
He taught at the University of California, Los Angeles (1968-70), the University of Crete (1978-79), the University of Thessaloniki (1970-91), and New York University (1992-2003). He was an honorary professor of ancient Greek philology at the University of Thessaloniki and the Alexander S. Onassis Professor of ancient Greek philology and modern Greek culture at New York University. He was also a distinguished member of the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH).
His publications focused on ancient drama, theater history, theatrical production, and literary theory, particularly the poetics of tragedy and comedy. Some of his works include "Parabasis and animal choruses" (The Athlone Press, 1971), "For a poetics of Greek folk song" (University of Crete Press, 1988), "Béla Bartók and folk song" (University of Crete Press, 1997), "Aristotle on the function of tragic poetry" (University of Crete Press, 2003), and "Issues of poetics, philology, and folklore" (Kichli, 2016). In his honor, the volume "Parachoregima. Studies on ancient theater" (University of Crete Press, 2010) was released.
Grigoris Sifakis received numerous honorary distinctions. He was an honorary member of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies in London (1984), an elected fellow of University College London (1984), a Webster Visiting Professor at Stanford University (1988), and a T.B.L. Webster Fellow at the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of London (2000). The Universities of Patras, Cyprus, and Crete acknowledged and honored his significant contributions to science by awarding him honorary doctoral degrees in 2005, 2006, and 2009, respectively.
Beyond his scientific achievements, Grigoris Sifakis's vision for education and research, as well as his leadership abilities, played crucial roles in the development of FORTH, the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, the University of Crete Press, and the University of Crete itself. He was one of the founding members of FORTH, contributing to its enrichment with humanities and publishing activities. He led the establishment of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies in Rethymno and served as its first Director from 1985 to 1992, significantly contributing to its progress and development. He was a founding member of the University of Crete Press and director of their series "Contributions to the Sciences of Humanity" for several years. Furthermore, his active involvement shaped the trajectory of the University of Crete, where he served as the President of the Governing Committee from 1981 to 1987.
The administrative and scientific community of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies - FORTH expresses their heartfelt condolences to his family and wishes him "farewell".