Portugal’s Greatest Hellenist Maria Helena Rocha-Pereira Passes Away at 92

Portuguese Hellenist Maria Helena Rocha-Pereira passed away on Sunday at age 92.

Pereira was responsible for two monumental anthologies of Greek and Latin classics, under the headings “Hélade” and “Romana.” She also translated and published the tragedies Ajax (Ájax, 2003) and Antigone (Antígona, 1958) by Sophocles, Medea, (Medeia, 1955), The Trojan Women (Troianas, 1996) and The Bacchae, (Bacantes, 1992) by Euripides, the Seven Odes (Sete Odes, 2003) by Pindar and Plato’s Republic.

She was regarded as the greatest contemporary classicist in Portugal. With over 300 works, books and publications in Portugal and abroad, Pereira was the first woman who got a doctorate from the University of Coimbra in 1956. She taught all her life at the same university, until 1995 when she retired. In 2010 she was awarded the Literary Prize Prémio Vida Literária APE/CGD.

Born in 1925 in Porto she was a prominent researcher in the influence of classical Greek literature in modern letters and poetry — from Camões and Pessoa to most contemporaries. For her dedication, she was honored with the great international prize of the University of Coimbra in 2006.

Pereira did a lot of research in Ancient Greek art as well and published a book called “Greek Vases in Portugal.”