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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Dirk tom Dieck Held, the Elizabeth S. Kruidenier ’48 Professor of Classics at Connecticut College in New London CT, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on March 21, 2012. He took his A.B. and Ph.D in Classics at Brown University.

Joining the faculty of Connecticut College in 1971, he held the Chair of the Classics Department for thirty-two years.  Professor Held presented and/or published over one hundred learned papers on a wide variety of topics.  He was widely known and respected for the quality of his scholarship and his dedication to the field.

Colleague Robert Proctor, Professor of Italian, remarked, “Dirk Held lived the liberal arts ideal. His scholarship was both profound and wide-ranging, from Plato’s understanding of love to Nietzsche and the reception of classical antiquity in the modern world. He was a modern exemplar of ancient Roman humanitas: culture, kindness, generosity, and wit.”

Some of his recent published works include:

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Tue, 05/22/2012 - 12:28pm by Adam Blistein.
I write with disappointing news regarding the effort to prevent a large garbage dump from being sited at Corcolle, near Hadrian's Villa: Giuseppe Pecoraro, the Extraordinary Commissioner of Rubbish for the Regione Lazio, has announced his final decision to recommend going forward with the Corcolle site. The Board of Directors authorized me to write on behalf of the APA to Prime Minister Mario Monti to protest this decision and to find an alternative site.  In this protest we join many other individuals, organizations, and communities in Italy and around the world.
 
View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 05/22/2012 - 12:19pm by Adam Blistein.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 05/21/2012 - 3:26pm by Adam Blistein.

From the Associated Press, via Yahoo.com:

For years, Gac Filipaj mopped floors, cleaned toilets and took out trash at Columbia University.

A refugee from war-torn Yugoslavia, he eked out a living working for the Ivy League school. But Sunday was payback time: The 52-year-old janitor donned a cap and gown to graduate with a bachelor's degree in classics.

As a Columbia employee, he didn't have to pay for the classes he took. His favorite subject was the Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca, the janitor said during a break from his work at Lerner Hall, the student union building he cleans.

"I love Seneca's letters because they're written in the spirit in which I was educated in my family — not to look for fame and fortune, but to have a simple, honest, honorable life," he said.

His graduation with honors capped a dozen years of studies, including readings in ancient Latin and Greek.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 05/14/2012 - 1:55am by Information Architect.

From the site:

ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World reconstructs the time cost and financial expense associated with a wide range of different types of travel in antiquity. The model is based on a simplified version of the giant network of cities, roads, rivers and sea lanes that framed movement across the Roman Empire. It broadly reflects conditions around 200 CE but also covers a few sites and roads created in late antiquity.

The model consists of 751 sites, most of them urban settlements but also including important promontories and mountain passes, and covers close to 10 million square kilometers (~4 million square miles) of terrestrial and maritime space. 268 sites serve as sea ports. The road network encompasses 84,631 kilometers (52,587 miles) of road or desert tracks, complemented by 28,272 kilometers (17,567 miles) of navigable rivers and canals.

Read more here: http://orbis.stanford.edu/.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Sat, 05/12/2012 - 6:01pm by .

A beta version of www.classicaltimeline.com, a new educational resource surveying the history of Classical antiquity, has just been launched and is currently seeking editors and contributors. If you wish to get involved please go to http://www.classicalstudiesonline.org/get-involved/ to find out more.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 1:19pm by .

From Helma Dik via the Digital Classicist List:

I'm delighted to announce the release of an iPad app for introductory and intermediate Greek readers. Its name is Attikos and it includes a selection of familiar texts, including morphological information. The author is Josh Day, himself recently an intermediate Greek student.

Link to the app store page: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/attikos/id522497233?mt=8

Writing the app would not have been nearly as feasible without the Perseus Project's generous policies of making its data available to third parties. It includes links to logeion.uchicago.edu, which is an interface for dictionaries and reference works, including Liddell and Scott. Again, that website is based for the most part on resources from the Perseus Project at Tufts. When not connected to the internet, the app itself offers short definitions, as familiar from Perseus.

Texts include the Iliad, some Lysias and Plato, and the Antigone. Some texts have been parsed completely; no translations are included, however. Bonus features allow the user to look up morphological parses of words they type in, or figure them out with the included morphological charts.

View full article. | Posted in Websites and Resources on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 1:24am by .

During a televised debate between Congressman Ron Paul and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Congressman Paul pointed to inflation under Diocletian as a reason to be concerned about expansion of the money supply today.  Prof. Krugman disagrees, although he admits to little knowledge of ancient history, and in a subsequent post discusses the difficulty of talking about the "zero lower bound" when the numerical system has no zero.  In Slate, Matthew Yglesias provides a literature summary on the topic. 

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 05/02/2012 - 2:15pm by Adam Blistein.

Sally Anne MacEwen, Professor and Chair of Classics at Agnes Scott College, died on March 15, 2012 after a long and astonishingly cheerful and determined fight against cancer. Born in Abington, PA in 1948, Sally earned her B.A. From Mount Holyoke College and her Ph.D. From the University of Pennsylvania. After a two years at the University of Utah, Sally spent thirty years teaching at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, where she inspired generations of women with a love of Classics and especially of Greek tragedy and its resonance in our modern world. Her unwavering commitment to her Quaker beliefs and to the importance of equality and diversity helped to make Agnes Scott more just and supportive of its entire community.

Sally’s publications ranged from Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis to Thelma and Louise, and her teaching was similarly wide-ranging. A signature course was based on her book Superheroes and Greek Tragedy: Comparing Cultural Icons, and at the time of her death she was teaching a new course entitled “Racism (or not) in Antiquity”; these two courses epitomize Sally’s scholarship, teaching, and profound understanding of the relevance of Classics in the modern world. In addition to her service at Agnes Scott, Sally was a long-time member of the Women’s Classical Caucus and served as its newsletter editor form 2004-2010.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Mon, 04/30/2012 - 3:54pm by Adam Blistein.

From newsobserver.com:

For 44 years, Burian, a professor of classical studies, has transported his students to the ancient world, a place inhabited by emperors and slaves, gods and heroes. And along the way, he has taught them about their own time and place, and maybe a bit about themselves.

Burian’s last class at Duke was Wednesday. At 68, he’s retiring from the classroom, but will spend a year as dean of humanities at Duke, where he will put his wisdom to work on larger questions about the study of languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion.

Read more…

View full article. | Posted in Member News on Sun, 04/29/2012 - 11:43am by .

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