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Acclaimed Greek-American Historian Speros Vryonis Dies at 90
by Tasos Kokkinidis
Speros Vryonis Jr., the famed Greek American historian who was a specialist in Byzantine, Balkan, and Greek history, died on Monday, March 12 in Sacramento, California at the age of 90.
He was the author of a number of works on Byzantine and Greek-Turkish relations, including his seminal “The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor” (1971) and “The Mechanism of Catastrophe: The Turkish Pogrom of September 6-7, 1955, and the Destruction of the Greek Community of Istanbul” (2005).
The son of Greek emigrants from the island of Cephalonia, Vryonis was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 18, 1928.
The scholar attained his Bachelor of Arts in ancient history and the classics from Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, Tennessee in 1950.
He received his Masters of Arts from Harvard University two years later and his Ph.D. from the same school in 1956.
Vryonis carried out his post-doctoral research at Dumbarton Oaks before joining the history faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles in the mid-1960s, where he served as the director of the G. E. von Grunebaum Center for Near-Eastern Studies.
In 1987 Vryonis was tapped to head the Alexander S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies at New York University.
Vryonis is also the former director of the Speros Basil Vryonis Center for the Study of Hellenism and also he served as the AHIF Senior Fellow for Hellenism and for Greek and Turkish Studies.
A two-volume festschrift for Vryonis, containing his collected edited works along with contributions from his students and colleagues, was published in his honor in 1993.