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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The Program Guide for the January 2013 Annual Meeting will appear in October.  Organizers of affiliated group and organizer-refereed sessions that have been approved for presentation at the 2013 meeting are reminded that calls for abstracts for their sessions should be sent to the Association Office no later than September 16, 2011.  See the APA web site (http://apaclassics.org/index.php/annual_meeting/meeting_info/calls_for_a...) for samples of previously published calls for abstracts.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 07/18/2011 - 1:46pm by Adam Blistein.

The Roundtable Discussion Session is a 90-minute joint annual meeting session with the AIA consisting of a number of tables devoted to discussions of a variety of topics, with at least one discussion leader for each topic.  Members are invited to propose themselves as roundtable discussion leaders.  Topics may be the leader’s area of scholarly interest or an issue important to the profession.  Since certain topics lend themselves to presentation by more than one leader, proposals for multiple leaders are welcome.  The Program Committee believes that these sessions can provide an excellent opportunity for younger registrants (both graduate students and recent Ph.D.'s) to interact with established scholars in a less formal environment than a session or a job interview.  Leadership of a roundtable discussion does not count as an “appearance” on the annual meeting program; i.e., roundtable leaders may present a paper or serve as a respondent in an APA paper session.

The Program Committee invites members to submit brief (50-100 word) descriptions of a suitable topic for a roundtable.  These submissions for the annual meeting in Philadelphia, PA should be sent to Heather Gasda (heatherh@sas.upenn.edu) by September 6, 2011.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 07/14/2011 - 7:47pm by Adam Blistein.

Mabel Louise Lang, emeritus professor of Greek at Bryn Mawr College, died peacefully on July 21, 2010, at the age of 92. She had spent more than seventy years at Bryn Mawr, where she was worshipped by generations of students and admired by scholars around the world.

Lang was born on November 12, 1917 in Utica, New York, and received her AB from Cornell in 1939 and her PhD from Bryn Mawr in 1943. She began teaching at Bryn Mawr in 1943 and continued to do so long after her official retirement in 1988, allowing more than half a century’s worth of students to benefit from her extraordinary ability to bring out the best in them.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 07/13/2011 - 7:16pm by Adam Blistein.

Malcolm Burgess, publisher of the City-Lit series, selects his favourite reads about the eternal city, from I, Claudius to the Rome of Fellini and beyond. Read more in The Guardian online.

View full article. | Posted in Book Reviews on Wed, 07/13/2011 - 1:40pm by Information Architect.

The following questionnaire appeard on the Humanist Discussion Group:

Manuscripts Online: Written Culture from 1100 to 1500

Manuscripts Online is a new project that aims to enable federated searching of transcriptions, editions, catalogue descriptions, and calendars of primary texts in English, Latin, French, Welsh etc from or relevant to the British Isles, 1100-1500, on the model of Connected Histories for 1500-1900 (http://www.connectedhistories.org/). The service will be hosted by the University of Sheffield Humanities Research Institute. The specification of the service and a bid for funding are currently being drafted.

Please send responses to Professor John Thompson, School of English, Queen's University Belfast (J.Thompson@qub.ac.uk).

1. Would you use such a service?

YES [go to question 2]
NO [go to question 5]

2. What existing online digitised resources would you like to see included?

3. What digitised datasets that are currently offline would you like to
see included?

4. What printed resources would you would like to see digitised and
included?

5. Any other comments?

6. Please provide your name, institution, and email address:

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Sun, 07/10/2011 - 2:12pm by .

"No woman, according to New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, was ever ruined by a book. But Christopher B. Krebs, a classics professor at Harvard, makes a strong case that an early ethnological monograph, written in the first century in Latin by the Roman historian Tacitus, may have warped the cultural identity of an entire nation. In my old Penguin translation, 'Germania'—'On Germany'— runs fewer than 40 pages, but, like other comparably short documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and 'The Communist Manifesto,' its influence has been earthshaking. As the Penguin translator, H. Mattingly, frankly writes in his 1947 introduction, the book is 'a detailed account of a great people that had already begun to be a European problem in the first century of our era.'"

Read more of the review of A Most Dangerous Book at The Washington Post online.

 
View full article. | Posted in Book Reviews on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 4:54pm by Information Architect.

The APA Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance (CAMP) seeks participants for its performance at the APA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.  This year’s play is the premiere of The Jurymen, an Aristophanic take on the last days of Socrates, written by Katherine Janson, and directed by Amy R. Cohen.  We need actors, musicians, stage crew, and helpers for our limited-rehearsal staged reading.  Rehearsals will begin on Wednesday, January 4 and the performance will take place on the evening of Friday, January 6.  Send an e-mail describing your interests and talents to acohen@randolphcollege.edu, by September 1, 2011.  Read the script at apollonejournal.org.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 3:16pm by Adam Blistein.

The Joint Committee on Placement and APA Staff are developing a system that will bring greater automation to the process of registering candidates and institutions for the Service and of scheduling interviews at the 2012 Joint Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.  We hope to have this system in place by the beginning of September.  While this new system is being developed, the Service will operate in the following manner:

For candidates:  Placement Director Renie Plonski will send an e-mail to all candidates registered for last year’s Service (2010-2011) stating that, unless they wish to discontinue their subscriptions, they will continue to receive e-mails around the 1st and 15th of each month containing all position listings recently submitted to the Service.  Any new candidate who wishes to receive the semi-monthly e-mails may be added to the e-mail list at no charge by submitting that request to Renie (plonskii@sas.upenn.edu).  Note:  Once the new automated system is implemented, we will no longer use this interim e-mail list.  All candidates wishing to participate in the 2011-2012 Service will need to register for it and pay the required fee. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 2:37pm by Adam Blistein.

"Two years ago, an archivist at Tufts University was sifting through manuscripts in the library's special collections when he came across a lone, unlabeled folder. To his surprise, it contained a stack of documents that no one then at the library had ever seen, some of them dating back to the 12th century. The Tisch Library Miscellany Collection was born. Now, Marie-Claire A. Beaulieu, an assistant professor of classics, has a novel way of identifying the documents and translating them from Latin to English—she's having her students do it. The 15 undergraduates and graduates she enlisted became historical sleuths, opening the cold case of the centuries-old texts; their work has been published online in the project's digital archive." Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education online.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 12:51pm by Information Architect.

From the website of Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford:

Everyone at LMH was deeply saddened by the death of Dr Simon Price on 14 June 2011. Simon was a distinguished scholar, and a much appreciated teacher to generations of students in Ancient History and in Classical Archaeology. He continued researching and writing after he had taken early retirement in 2008. He was able to complete The Birth of Classical Europe, written in collaboration with Peter Thonemann, which has recently been published in paperback by Penguin.

Simon’s funeral will be on Thursday 23 June at 2.45pm in St Margaret’s Church, 19 St Margaret’s Road, Oxford, OX2 6RX. All are welcome.  

The family has asked people not to send flowers for the funeral but if anyone would like to make a donation in Simon’s memory to do so for the Ancient History Fellowship at LMH. This was Simon's wish.

Cheques, made payable to ‘LMH Development Fund’ and marked ‘Simon Price’ should be sent to the Development Office, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, OX2 6QA.  Donations may also be made online.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 07/06/2011 - 3:52pm by .

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