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)   

Categories

Follow SCS News for information about the SCS and all things classical.

Use this field to search SCS News
Select a category from this list to limit the content on this page.

From the New York Times:

School was out, and Jack Kaufmann, who teaches 8th and 9th grade Latin at the elite Hewitt School in Manhattan, was on his way to catch the train home to Westchester.

That’s hardly surprising, except that Mr. Kaufmann is 71 years old and has been teaching for only the last three years. For much of the last 32 years, the dapper, silver-haired Mr. Kaufmann was a partner at the law firm Dewey Ballantine.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said of his law career, chatting over a quick coffee before heading home. “But at a certain point, I felt that I didn’t need to keep practicing.”

So in 2002 Mr. Kaufmann, who had enough money to retire comfortably, left the firm and began taking college classes. First he took a class on Chaucer, then another on the “Divine Comedy” by Dante and still another called Heresy in the Medieval World. He found the work so fascinating it led to a master’s degree in Classics (Latin and ancient Greek) at the City University of New York — and eventually to teaching jobs, first at the Browning School, then at Trevor Day and then at Hewitt.

Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/business/retirementspecial/retired-and-back-in-school-for-the-degree-not-just-the-fun.html

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 05/15/2013 - 3:07pm by Information Architect.

Four classics teachers have received the first set of APA Pedagogy Awards.  One of the major goals of the APA’s recently and successfully completed capital campaign, Gatekeeper to Gateway:  The Campaign for Classics in the Twenty-first Century, was to ensure that an inspiring, well trained teacher would be available for every school and college classics classroom.  A subcommittee of the Joint Committee on the Classics in American Education, whose membership is selected from both the APA and the American Classical League, reviewed twenty-one applications requesting funds to support a variety activities that would improve their teaching and their students’ experiences in the classroom.  The awards received by the four successful applicants are funded by income derived from the following contributions to the Campaign’s Research and Teaching Endowment:  a major gift from an anonymous donor, a contribution from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS), and donations to the Friends of Zeph Stewart Fund. 

Rachel Ash (North Gwinnett High School, Norcross, GA) was awarded $1,000 to pursue an M.A. in Latin through the University of Florida’s distance learning program.

Andrew Carroll (Regis Jesuit High School) was awarded $600 to develop a series of videos about Roman and Etruscan sites as part of a curricular revision introducing a ‘flipped’ or ‘inverted’ classroom.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 05/15/2013 - 1:25pm by Adam Blistein.

The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) has released a report, It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, summarizing the findings of a national survey of business and nonprofit leaders. Among other things, the survey reveals that 74 percent of business and nonprofit leaders say they would recommend a twenty-first century liberal education to a young person they know in order to prepare for long-term professional success in today’s global economy.

“While policy leaders have been focused intensely on what college students are choosing as their majors and what salaries they are being paid shortly after they graduate, business leaders who actually hire college graduates are urging us to prioritize the cross-cutting capacities a college education should develop in every student, in every major,” said Mildred García, president of California State University, Fullerton and chair of AAC&U’s board of directors. “No matter what careers students seek, their college education must equip them with intercultural skills, ethical judgment, and a sophisticated understanding of the diversity of our society and of any successful business or organization.”

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 2:54pm by Adam Blistein.

The National Humanities Center offers 40 residential fellowships for advanced study in the humanities for the period September 2014 through May 2015. Applicants must have doctorate or equivalent scholarly credentials. Young scholars as well as senior scholars are encouraged to apply, but they must have a record of publication, and new PhDs should be aware that the Center does not normally support the revision of a doctoral dissertation. In addition to scholars from all fields of the humanities, the Center accepts individuals from the natural and social sciences, the arts, the professions, and public life who are engaged in humanistic projects. The Center is also international and gladly accepts applications from scholars outside the United States.

Applicants submit the Center's form, supported by a curriculum vitae, a 1000-word project proposal, and three letters of recommendation. A downloadable application form and instructions may be found at the Center's website which contains more information about the Fellowships.  Applications and letters of recommendation must be postmarked by October 1, 2013.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 1:53pm by Adam Blistein.

We are very pleased to announce the creation of the Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing (DC3), a new Digital Classics R&D unit embedded in the Duke University Libraries, whose start-up has been generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Duke University’s Dean of Arts & Sciences and Office of the Provost.

The DC3 goes live 1 July 2013, continuing a long tradition of collaboration between the Duke University Libraries and papyrologists in Duke’s Department of Classical Studies. The late Professors William H. Willis and John F. Oates began the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri (DDbDP) more than 30 years ago, and in 1996 Duke was among the founding members of the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS). In recent years, Duke led the Mellon-funded Integrating Digital Papyrology effort, which brought together the DDbDP, Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der Griechischen Papyrusurkunden Ägyptens (HGV), and APIS in a common search and collaborative curation environment (papyri.info), and which collaborates with other partners, including Trismegistos, Bibliographie Papyrologique, Brussels Coptic Database, and the Arabic Papyrology Database.

The DC3 team will see to the maintenance and enhancement of papyri.info data and tooling, cultivate new partnerships in the papyrological domain, experiment in the development of new complementary resources, and engage in teaching and outreach at Duke and beyond.

View full article. | Posted in General Announcements on Thu, 05/09/2013 - 1:16am by .

Bill Kemeza of Boston College High School reports the death of long-time APA member Brian P. Donaher

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Tue, 05/07/2013 - 5:02pm by Adam Blistein.

The International Federation of the Societies of Classical Studies (FIEC) has posted a second announcement with more details about its 14th International Congress to be held in Bordeaux (France) from Monday 25th August to Saturday 30th August 2014. This meeting in Bordeaux will give classicists from around the world and at all stages of their careers the opportunity to gather and provide an overview of the most recent research in classical studies.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 05/03/2013 - 2:19pm by Adam Blistein.

APA Member Tommye Lou Davis has fond memories of Robert Griffin III of Baylor and now the Washington Redskins - as a Latin student

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Fri, 05/03/2013 - 2:06pm by Adam Blistein.

University of South Carolina
16th Annual Comparative Literature Conference
February 26-March 2, 2014

  • What is translation? Is it a signifying process? A transfer of knowledge? Or the dissemination of tradition itself?
  • What are the grounds of comparison between noncognate traditions?
  • How are classics received within their own traditions and within other traditions?
  • How does translation relate to local commentarial traditions?
  • How do the translation of the classics relate to project of cosmopolitanism?
  • How do new media affect the transmission of the classics?
  • Are Plato and Aristotle to the postwar West as Confucius and Lao Tzu are to postrevolutionary China?

Classical texts routinely engage the poetic, the political, the social, historical, the religious, and the philosophical without drawing clear boundaries between them. Seeking papers from these and other disciplines, this conference asks how the reception of the classics in both China and the West informs and serves to transform the modern world. When and why do cultures access traditions beyond their bounds and how does that cross fertilization work? We seek papers and participants engaging in dialogues ranging across disciplines and cultures.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Thu, 05/02/2013 - 12:41pm by .

All three recipients of Ovationes at this year’s meeting of CAMWS in Iowa City were APA members.  They were Robert W. Cape, Austin College; S. Douglas Olson, University of Minnesota; and Mary Pendergraft, Wake Forest University.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 05/01/2013 - 4:35pm by Adam Blistein.

Pages

Latest Stories

© 2019, Society for Classical Studies Privacy Policy