In Memoriam: Georg Nicolaus Knauer

(From the UPenn website)

G. N. Knauer, 1926–2018

Georg Nicolaus Knauer, Emeritus Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, died on October 28, 2018 in Haverford, PA at the age of 92. His long life and career were distinguished by high scholarly achievement and enriched by extensive travel and many friendships. He was also deeply involved in political controversies that were the result of two tragic events that affected so many Germans of his generation: the rise of National Socialism in their youth and the division of Germany into two separate states in their maturity.

Nico, as his friends knew him, was born in Hamburg on February 26, 1926. In 1944, he was drafted into the Wehrmacht and dispatched to the Eastern front at a time when the German defense against the Red Army of the USSR was starting to collapse. Very soon after his arrival, he was almost killed by a land mine, which destroyed most of his right leg. That he even survived is remarkable enough, but his relentless refusal to let this injury limit his activities is in some ways even more so.

After the war, Nico studied Classics at the University of Hamburg with Ernst Zinn, the classicist who also produced that generation’s standard edition of Rilke’s complete works. Nico earned his PhD in 1952 for a dissertation on Psalm citations in the Confessions of St. Augustine, which laid the methodological foundations of his subsequent work. From 1952 to 1954 he was a fellow at the Institute for the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae in Munich, and then from 1954 to 1974 he taught at the Free University of Berlin, rising through the ranks from Assistent to Professor Ordinarius. He is best known for the book that originated as his 1961 Habilitationsschrift on Vergil’s imitation of Homer in the Aeneid, which was published as Die Aeneis und Homer in1964. During these same years, he was a British Council Scholar at the University of London (1957–1958), Visiting Professor at Yale University (1965–1966), Nelly Wallace Lecturer at Oxford University (1969), and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (1973–1974). In 1975 he moved to Penn, where he remained until his retirement in 1988.Honors continued to accrue: he was in 1978 Visiting Professor at Columbia University, in 1979 a Guggenheim Fellow, in 1984 a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in 1985 a Resident of the American Academy in Rome, in 1989 a Resident of the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, and in 1991 and 2002 a Guest Researcher of the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel.

At the time of his death, Nico had been working for years on a vast project to catalogue and contextualize commentaries on and translations of the works of Homer from antiquity to the Renaissance. Although he was not able to see the project through to publication, he left it very close to completion, along with a substantial archive of research materials on which it is based.  It will be finished and published posthumously, and he made provisions for this to happen.

No remembrance of Nico Knauer could be complete without mention of his wife, Kezia, with whom he shared his personal and professional life from before their wedding in 1951 until Kezia’s death in 2010. Kezia’s real name was Elfriede, and she used that name officially, e.g. as the author of many scholarly publications; but almost no one called her that, and therein lies a tale. Because she and her twin sister, Sybil, were born while their father was away on a business trip, the babies were not actually named until his return. In the interim, a midwife decided to call them Kezia and Keren-happuch after two of Job’s daughters from his second family (cf. Job 42.14). The name Kezia stuck, because everyone hated Elfriede, with the result that many people were unaware what Kezia’s “real” name was. (According to family lore, during a party to celebrate Nico and Kezia’s wedding, Nico’s father answered a phone call from a well-wisher, which caused him to turn to those assembled and ask, in puzzlement and horror, “Is there anyone here named Elfriede?”) Kezia was a classical archaeologist and art historian who specialized in iconography, but became an expert in an astoundingly wide variety of subjects. Perhaps chief among these was the Silk Road as a vector of culture between East Asia and the ancient Mediterranean basin. One result of this interest was that Nico and Kezia spent decades traveling together, he in search of humanist translations and commentaries on Homer (the bulk of them preserved in unpublished manuscripts in European libraries, large and small), she in pursuit of information about all aspects of trade, religion, art and architecture, and especially textiles, in the Middle East, Central Asia, and East Asia. Together, Nico and Kezia were among the last foreigners to visit freely countries like Afghanistan (where they photographed the now-destroyed Buddhas of Bamyan) between the time when that country’s war with the Soviet Union ended and the current American war against the Taliban and Isis began. When the improbable Karakoram highway between Pakistan and Xinjiang province in China was completed, they were on a bus there a few months later, rolling past washouts at high altitudes. They were genuinely indefatigable.

After more than half a century, Nico’s study of Vergil and Homer remains one of the most frequently cited books in the field of Classics, and it enjoys what will probably be a permanent place in bibliographies of Vergil and Latin literary studies generally. Its success is the more remarkable in that not all agree with its premises and methods, which are extremely positivistic and, as such, somewhat out of synch with contemporary notions of imitative, emulative, and allusive relationships among classical poets. Still, there are few serious students of Vergil who have not profited from this work. Indeed, it has advanced the field by inspiring both adaptive imitation of its methods among sympathetic scholars, and committed opposition, revision, and the adoption of methods based on quite different assumptions on the part of skeptics. In addition, despite an approach that looks back to the nineteenth century rather than forward to the twenty-first, the book is in many ways ahead of its time, not only in its firm commitment to the study of what ae now called intertextual relations as a fundamental and immensely creative component of classical Latin poetics, but also in its anticipation of contemporary reception studies. This is especially evident in its first chapter, which traces the growing familiarity with Homer in the early modern period through the gradual discovery by generations of Vergilian commentators of Homer’s extensive and detailed influence on their poet.

Although Nico’s scholarly vision drove him to take on projects of such scope that they would seem to have left him no time for other pursuits, he was deeply committed to the defense of specific social principles. His youthful experience of National Socialism convinced him that, after the end of World War II, it was of the utmost importance that European and, especially, German society be on the alert against any possible recrudescence of similar pathologies. Understandably, he initially expected that the likeliest threat would be from the political right; but his experience of Cold War realities in a divided Germany, and especially in occupied Berlin, convinced him that there was a more imminent danger from the left. Like many other German professors, he found it impossible to teach in the supercharged ideological atmosphere of the late sixties and early seventies. In response, he became one of the founding members and leaders of the Emergency Organization for a Free University (Notgemeinschaft für eine freie Universität) and the Freedom of Science Federation (Bund Freiheit der Wissenschaft). Ultimately, the volatile political situation caused Nico to move to the U.S. and to leave political action, though not strong political beliefs and opinions, behind.

Nico’s personal habits were ascetic and sybaritic in approximately equal measure. When he was hot on the trail of new evidence or the solution to an old problem, he would work long hours in the library without a break, sustaining himself with nothing but occasional spoonfuls of freeze-dried coffee crystals. When he felt he had the time for a proper lunch, he made it an occasion, usually enjoying the company of just one friend at a time, always with a carafe of white wine within reach. In either mode, even younger colleagues found it challenging to keep up with him. His enthusiasm for work and pleasure were equally great. The dinner parties that he and Kezia hosted from time to time in their high-rise apartment, filled with books and overlooking Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, were memorable events. Nico always cut a dashing figure, with his bow ties (many of them made by Kezia from fabrics collected during their travels), his beret, his scarf (a souvenir from a visiting stint at Corpus Christi College, Oxford), and his silver-handled walking stick. He drove his red VW Golf, specially outfitted to accommodate his injury, like a Formula 1 racer. He especially enjoyed driving in Rome. His Penn students were in awe of both his personal and his intellectual style, recognizing that, through him, they had some contact with scholars like Eduard Fraenkel, Bruno Snell, Otto Skutsch, and many other great names from long ago and far away. He felt keenly the responsibility to pass on what his teachers had given him, insisting that the entire point of our work is to serve “the next generation,” one of his favorite and most often repeated phrases.

Nico Knauer is survived by Dr. Sabine Solf, his close companion during the years since Kezia’s death, a few family members, and many devoted students and colleagues.

---

(Photo: "Candle" by Shawn Carpenter, licensed under CC BY 2.0; picture of Georg Knauer used with permission)   

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Adam Blistein recently sent a message to all members inviting you to volunteer to stand for election to Association offices and to serve on APA committees.  The required form may be accessed here, and you may find full information about what is involved in serving in the various positions here

Why do we send this message every year, and why is it important that we have members respond? 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 06/18/2013 - 1:09pm by Adam Blistein.

The New York Times makes a case that Hollywood learned about the wisdom of producing sequels, prequels, etc. from - among others - ancient Greek tragedians. 

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 06/04/2013 - 7:03pm by Adam Blistein.

In high school, Joshua D. Sosin had two favorite subjects: Latin and biology. "In the end I decided that my Latin teacher was cooler, and if I, too, wanted to be cool, I should do Latin," he says. That led to a concentration in classics, philosophy, and religion at what is now the University of Mary Washington, where he studied not only Latin but also Greek and Egyptian Coptic. He got a Ph.D. in classics from Duke University in 2000. "At no point did I consider what I would do with any of this," he says.

What he did was go on to a career as a papyrologist and epigraphist, a scholar of inscriptions. Now Mr. Sosin, who is 40, is about to put that training to fresh uses in a job configured unlike any other at Duke. In July he will become director of the Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing, a new digital-humanities unit of the Duke University Libraries.

Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 06/03/2013 - 2:01pm by Information Architect.

The World Languages Department at Wenatchee Valley College announces a new web site to support its Latin program as well as spoken-Latin activities in the Pacific Northwest. "Boreoccidentales" provides a forum for the events and activities of the Circulus Latinus Seattlensis ("Seattle Latin-Speaking Club") and the Conventiculum Vasintoniense/Septimana Californiana. The web site also houses Cataracta, an online journal, with works by modern Latin authors. Inclusion in the online journal is open to anyone, world-wide! For more information, please contact Dr. Stephen Berard through the "Contact Us" web form.
http://www.boreoccidentales.com

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Wed, 05/29/2013 - 7:15pm by .

All APA and AIA members, be they Grizzled comic veterans or Dewy-eyed tiros, are invited to participate in The 12th Annual Staged Reading of The Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP): Plautus’ Rudens, directed by Alison Futrell (University of Arizona) and John Given (East Carolina University). This is the journey of a plucky young woman, kidnapped, torn from the arms of love, shipwrecked, waterlogged, epiphanied, menaced and manacled, to be bound again at last by the salty ties of tender devotion! This is the rambunctious musical production populated by pimps, piscatores, prostitutes, pirates, peons, and paramours! This is the rope-y tug-of-war to tug your heartstrings and tease your toes to tapping!

Rudens aims to be an uproarious extravaganza. There will be singing. There will be dancing. There will be silliness. We need actors able and willing to play big, even in small roles. We also need costumers and other off-stage crew. We need you!

The Rudens performance will take place on the Friday evening, January 3, 2014, at the APA-AIA Meetings in Chicago. Rehearsals begin two days prior to the performance, on January 1. (Travel on December 31 may be necessary.) Actors are expected to familiarize themselves with scripts in advance, though memorization is not required. Acting experience is not required, but is not unwelcome.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 05/29/2013 - 1:43pm by Adam Blistein.

I am sorry to announce that the AIA has terminated its participation in the Joint AIA–APA Placement Service.  This unfortunate decision dissolves a partnership that has lasted for more than three decades.  We at APA discouraged this step because we believe it will put an additional burden on many candidates and institutions both at the joint annual meeting and throughout the hiring process.  In moving ahead, we are determined to continue to offer an excellent Placement Service to our registrants, even as we work on upgrading what has been offered in the past. 

In 2011 the APA independently commissioned the creation of an online system to handle Placement Service registration, the immediate posting of new position listings on a private web site, and the scheduling of interviews at the annual meeting.  During the current academic year, Information Architect Sam Huskey and his colleague Alex Ward made several improvements to this System, including programming that issued an e-mail notification to registered candidates on the day following the posting of a new position.  Sam and Alex are now at work on further improvements for 2013-14, particularly some steps to make the registration process easier for both candidates and institutions.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 05/28/2013 - 7:43pm by Adam Blistein.

The Academy /Vivarium Novum /is offering ten full tuition scholarships for high school students of the European Union (16-18 years old) and ten full tuition scholarships for University students (18-24 years old) of any part of the world. The scholarships will cover all of the costs of room, board, teaching and didactic materials for courses to be held *from October 7, 2013 until June 14, 2014* on the grounds of the Academy’s campus at Rome.

Application letters must be sent to info@vivariumnovum.net by July 15 in order to receive consideration.

A good knowledge of the fundamental of Latin and Greek is required.

The courses will be as follows:

   1. Latin language (fundamental and advanced)
   2. Greek language (fundamental and advanced)
   3. Latin composition
   4. Roman History
   5. Ancient Latin literature
   6. History of ancient Philosophy
   7. Renaissance and Neo-Latin literature
   8. Latin and Greek music and poetry
   9. Classics reading seminars

View full article. | Posted in Degree and Certificate Programs on Thu, 05/23/2013 - 2:22pm by Adam Blistein.

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new website on the reception of ancient Greek tragedy, hosted by the Open University of Cyprus: http://eumenides.ouc.ac.cy.

As part of a research project, coordinated by Dr. Vayos Liapis and funded by the Research Promotion Foundation of Cyprus, the website aims at cataloguing and analysing the various ways in which ancient Greek tragedy and tragic myth have been adapted, reinterpreted, revised or re-imagined in Modern Greek poetry and theatre from the late 19th century to the present day.

Among other things, the website contains a fully searchable database of modern Greek poems and plays which set out to adapt, update, parody, or otherwise rewrite classical Greek drama. At present, users have access to entries on the poetry of George Seferis and Yiannis Ritsos, as well as to audiovisual material.

For further information please visit our website at: http://eumenides.ouc.ac.cy. Follow us on Twitter (@EumenidesProjec) and Facebook (Eumenides Project) in order to receive notifications for new entries, publications, news and forthcoming events.

View full article. | Posted in General Announcements on Tue, 05/21/2013 - 5:59pm by Adam Blistein.

We regret to report the death of Calvert Watkins, winner of the 1998 Goodwin Award of Merit for his book, How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics.  Prof. Watkins spent his entire teaching career at Harvard, and the University's memorial notice appears here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 05/20/2013 - 1:25pm by Adam Blistein.

A Conference at the University of Michigan
September 20th–21st, 2013
Angell Hall 3222

The idea of large-scale Roman missteps—whether imperial domination, sexual immorality, political corruption, greed, religious intolerance, cultural insensitivity, or the like—has been a notion “good to think with” since antiquity, and persists in familiar comparisons between the Roman Empire and the present-day United States. This conference seeks to go beyond a merely thematic discussion to re-examine the connections between “Roman error,” broadly conceived, and basic features of the reception of antiquity including: misunderstanding and misprision, repetition and difference, the subject’s relation to a (remembered or unconscious) past, performance and illusion, and links between text and image. If the Romans “erred,” what are the consequences for Rome’s inheritors as they attempt to construct a stable relation to Rome as a flawed “source” or model? We ask not simply, “Are Rome’s errors ours?” but, “How does Roman error figure in the reception of Rome itself?”

FRIDAY, September 20th

2:00 Welcome

Error and Empire

2:15 Phiroze Vasunia (University of Reading), “The Roman Empire and the Error of Civilization”

3:00 Margaret Malamud (New Mexico State University), “Worse than Cato? How to Think about Slavery”

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 05/17/2013 - 4:53pm by .

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