Roman Law Network

(Alan) Martin Stone


Martin Stone was born in 1941. After finishing school at The Scots College in Sydney, where he was an outstanding Latin student—and an outstanding everything student—Martin enrolled as an under-graduate at the University of Sydney. Martin had always intended to study modern history. But then he and his friends happened to attend a lecture by Edwin Judge, and the Romans had him for life.

Scholarly success took Martin next to St John’s College Cambridge on a commonwealth scholarship, where he studied under John Crook. It was also in Cambridge that Martin met two lifelong friends, the late Doug Kelly and another Australian, Peter Brennan. In 1969 Martin and Peter returned to the Uni-versity of Sydney, this time as lecturers, where they shared responsibility for a senior-level course on Athenian Democracy. Peter recalls that teaching this course ‘set [the two of them] up as they were to go on for the next thirty plus years’. But it was in the teaching of Roman History that Martin was to make his profound and enduring mark on the study of the Roman Republic, and on a cavalcade of undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Kathryn Welch, who had first encountered Martin as an 18-year old undergraduate some time in the middle 70s, returned in 1984 to study for her masters under Martin, who put her on to Sextus Pompei-us. Kathryn proceeded to a PhD in 1985 and would remain a friend and, later, colleague, for the rest of Martin’s life. Others followed under Martin’s influence either as full or co-supervisor: Simon White-head, Patrick Tansey, Andrew Wright; Bronwyn Hopwood, Emily Christian, Andrew Pettinger and the authors of this obituary, among others. It is probably fair to say that none of them would be the scholars they are without having experienced Martin’s own peculiar brand of deeply loving supervisory blowtorch.

Martin was a prolific scholar. Unfortunately he was not a prolific publisher (though his former students do hope to bring to light much of his unpublished work in due course). However, the articles he did publish—on the Sullan senate, on optimates, on the Cardinal Virtues, on Tiberius Gracchus—all have stood and still stand to make a profound impact on scholarship.

You had to see Martin’s brain at work to really understand his distinctive approach to history. His in-cisive analysis and seeming omniscience allowed him to combine initially unpromising evidence—a line of Asconius, or a chance mention in the Verrines—with breathtaking implications. Even individu-al words could reveal entire ideologies or legislative agendas once processed through Martin’s mind.

He was also an invaluable critic of other people’s work. Presenting a thesis chapter or a new paper to Martin could be a tough experience—but we always went back to our own personal Socratic gad-fly, which is testimony both to his scholarly acumen and his deep good will.

Martin is survived by his three sons, Michael, Andrew, and Rob, several grandchildren and by a host of friends, former colleagues and students. He is deeply missed, but his voice lives on.

Sarah Lawrence and Kit Morrell