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Paavo Hohti

Paavo Hohti
Born October 19, 1944, Helsinki

PhD 1976 (Greek and Roman literature), University of Helsinki
Docent 1977–, University of Tampere and University of Helsinki

Managing Director 2004–13, Council of Finnish Foundations
Director 1980–89, Secretary General 1990–2004, Finnish Cultural Foundation
Lecturer in Latin 1971–80, University of Tampere

Board member 2011, Bonier Books Finland
Board of administration member 1990–99, Board of directors 1999–2008
WSOY Board of administration member 1991–99

Research themes and publications:
Studies of the historical writing and rhetoric of ancient Greece and Byzantium, and papyrology.

Acta Byzantina Fennica, editorial work 1985–90

Finnish translation of Aristotle’s Poetics and Rhetoric (1997)

Publications on the activities and history of private foundations

Awards and honours:
Honorary title of professor 2003

First Class Knight of the White Rose of Finland, Commander of the Order of the Holy Lamb, Commander, first class, of the Greek Order of Honour

Photo: Ida Pimenoff
Written by Olli Siitonen
Translated by Matthew Billington

Unwavering Supporter of Student Nations

Paavo Hohti, whose career at the Finnish Cultural Foundation spanned almost a quarter of a century, already became interested in ancient languages when attending upper secondary school in Joensuu. The young man became so enamoured with Classical philology that after his matriculation examination he moved, via the Summer University of Jyväskylä, to study at the University of Helsinki.

The humanities have helped him expand his worldview and general education. Dr Hohti believes that studying classical languages and cultures has aided his growth as a person, given him the ability to understand other cultures and improved his communication skills, particularly in international contexts.

“Ancient languages and literature have developed my thinking and given me fresh perspectives on which to base decisions. Through them I have gained intellectual capital that I have been able to put to use in public service and positions of responsibility in economic life. Studying Greek and Latin itself has been an invaluable asset in acquiring new languages.”

Higher! Photo from the family album, 1953.

It was his youthful passion that led Dr Hohti to choose a career in the humanities, and over 50 years later he stands firmly by his decision. Even now he cannot think of any possible alternative.

“I cannot imagine doing anything else. Such a strong educational and academic foundation could not have been attained anywhere else.”

Dr Hohti declares his unwavering support for the idea of student nations. While his family background might have suggested that he join the Kymenlaakson Osakunta nation, he instead chose to join Karjalainen Osakunta.

“My school years in Joensuu and the nature and people of North Karelia had such a strong impact on me that I did not consider any other option. When I moved from the country to the capital and from school to university, the student nation gave me many friends and real substance to my life.”

Besides the student nation, Hohti and his fellow students were active in Symposion, the student association for classical languages. He fondly remembers participating in the so called Partisan Choir, whose repertoire included Italian drinking songs and performing Tiernapojat, a Finnish version of the star boys’ singing procession, in Greek, Latin and Arabic.

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