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.

Call for paper – Aegyptus et Pannonia 6:

Health and Life in Ancient Egypt
Mummies in Focus
Conference 27-30 August 2019, Budapest

The Hungarian Egyptian Friendship Society (HEFS / MEBT) with its partners, the Hungarian Natural History Museum and The Hungarian National Museums’s Semmelweis Medical History Museum, invites all colleagues and specialists to participate in the conference. The conference aims to provide a forum for the discussion of the situation of ancient Egyptian health state mirrored by the mummies.
As it can only be investigated with scientific methods, anthropological, medical, ethnographical, physical knowledge, Egyptological and environmental studies, it will cover a broad range of lectures and posters. The conference addresses the subject in a multidisciplinary way, and by embracing a broad chronological and cultural span, from Predynastic to the Coptic Period.
We invite colleagues of diverse research backgrounds and of differing specialisms. Theoretical questions and comparative approaches to other cultures are invited as well and all other topics which develop our understanding of ancient Egypt in this respect.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 03/28/2019 - 9:24am by Erik Shell.
Being Alone in Antiquity
Ancient Ideas and Experiences of Misanthropy, Isolation, and Solitude.
 
Conference dateApril 23-24, 2020.
Conference venueEdmundsburg, Mönchsberg 2, 5020 Salzburg (Austria).
View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 03/27/2019 - 11:18am by Erik Shell.
Newspaper

Pro Publica: A Public Classics Workshop

How can we better speak and write about the ancient Mediterranean for the general public? How can academics engaged in the study of antiquity underscore the relevance of Classics in the present day? The Society for Classical Studies and the Department of Classics at Northwestern University invite applications to participate in the Public Classics Workshop (PCW) scheduled on October 18-19, 2019 on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The workshop will explore issues surrounding public scholarship rooted in the study of the ancient Mediterranean through a combination of lectures, mentoring, and workshopping a piece of public-facing scholarship. The ultimate goal will be not only to learn, but also to polish a piece of public scholarship that can be pitched for future publication.

Speakers and Mentors:  

Sarah E. Bond

Nyasha Junior

Scott Lepisto  

Denise McCoskey  

Nandini Pandey

Claire Voon  

Donna Zuckerberg  

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 03/26/2019 - 7:53pm by Helen Cullyer.
Mosaic Tesserae, Byzantine (6th–15th century), Glass, gold and silver leaf. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number:2016.11.1–.50. Image Credit: Metropolitan Museum, public domain. Image source: https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/7

Gone are the days when scholars of Ancient Greek and Latin literature relied solely on a prodigious memory and a printed library of classical texts, commentaries, and reference works. Digitized texts and new tools for textual analysis supplement traditional approaches. These methods do not require a physical library, and they promise to save time and to produce new insights.

The Tesserae Project seeks to take advantage of digital corpora to enable the user to find connections between texts. Its web interface allows users to search two texts or corpora from Greek and Latin literature for occurrences of two or more shared words within a line or phrase.


Screenshot of the homepage for the Tesserae Project.

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 03/24/2019 - 10:00pm by Julian Yolles.

The SCS has received a response from a group of graduate students to Professor Joy Connolly’s blog post Working Towards a Just and Inclusive Future for Classics. This repsonse is posted below.

The student authors are anonymous and neither SCS staff nor Officers know their identities. As agreed with the Communications Committee, this piece is not appearing on the SCS blog, since the current policy is not to publish anonymous submissions on the blog. However, the Communications Committee and SCS staff agree that it is important to give students a voice and publish their contributions to debates about the future. The SCS leadership recognizes that there are circumstances under which anonymity can protect younger and more vulnerable members of the profession (see the dialogue following the board statement on ad hominem anonymous attacks), and shares the hope of the students, expressed in their final paragraph, that we can move towards a future where the protection of anonymity will no longer be necessary. 

The SCS office requested just one edit, on placement service data, to the submission. The post has not been otherwise edited or revised.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:59pm by Helen Cullyer.
Penland Rome China 00

How can we forge better and lasting connections between the ancient Mediterranean and modern Chinese culture? At the end of the last school year, I had the occasion to sit down with my student, Hongshen Ken Lin (林鸿燊) to talk about his experiences in Classics. Ken was at the end of his senior year and had been accepted early to Harvard, where he planned to combine his love of Big Data and digital humanities with something equally remote and challenging: the study of Roman and Greek Antiquity.


Penland Rome China 01
Hongshen Ken Lin on the Harvard China website.

According to Ken, he became interested in studying Latin through a family trip to Rome combined with a freshman history class in the Ancient Mediterranean at his new US school. That was the first time he realized that Latin existed. He had not had much exposure to Roman and Greek history in China.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:38pm by Liz Penland.
Call for Papers
October, 26th 2019.
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
Third University of Florida Classics Graduate Student Symposium
 
Justice turns the balance scales
Δίκα δὲ τοῖς μὲν παθοῦσιν μαθεῖν ἐπιρρέπει (Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 250-1)
“But Justice turns the balance scales,
sees that we suffer and we suffer and we learn.” (trans. Robert Fagles)

The importance of the concept of justice in ancient literature and culture set the foundation for the philosophical, social, and political reflections on the subject in the centuries that followed. From archaic theodicy, to the great plays of the Tragedians, from Caesar’s debate with Cato, to life under tyrannical emperors, δίκη [dīke] and iustitia (νόμος [nomos] and ius…) come to the fore as key ideas to interpret the world and man’s role/duty in it.  Many human experiences that ancient literature describes broached the issue of justice, be it at a personal level (the problem of suffering, retribution, progress, etc.) or at a societal and historical level (administration of justice, redistribution of land, great legal cases of ancient history, etc.). These ideas have been the point of reference for many literary works and philosophical/political reflections in the cultural tradition that reaches us today.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 11:15am by Erik Shell.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Department of Classics and the Ancient Theater Performance Group of Cornell University present....

TROADES 
“The Trojan Women”
by Seneca

In the original Latin
 
Directed by Daniel Gallagher and Nathan Chazan
  
Sunday, April 21, 2019 – 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 – 7: 30 p.m.

Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium – Klarman Hall
 
Admission is free.
For more information:lmb296@cornell.edu

---

(Photo: "Empty Theatre (almost)" by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 8:20am by Erik Shell.

The Many Faces of War V: An annual interdisciplinary symposium on the experience and impact of war throughout history

 October 17th-18th, 2019 at South Dakota State University

This annual interdisciplinary conference aims to address both the experience and impact of war for those fighting as well as for those on the periphery of combat.  

The conference is aimed equally at postgraduate students, researchers in the early stages of their careers and established academics. There are no specific geographical or temporal parameters regarding the subject matter of papers, and scholars and students of ancient, medieval and modern warfare are encouraged to submit proposals. We would also encourage the proposal of panels of three papers.

 This year we encourage a focus on veterans and associated studies or experiences. Suggested topics are: PTSD; the social stigma of retreat or cowardice; social security systems for war widows and orphans; the effect of training on a soldier’s mindset and actions (before, during and after combat); the social position of soldiers and veterans;  literature and poetry of war; the art and architecture of war and remembrance. 

Proposals/abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and should be sent to:

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 03/20/2019 - 8:42am by Erik Shell.

SCS is pleased to announce the addition of a candidate to the 2019 election slate for President-Elect. Professor Shelley P. Haley has received the support of over 30 SCS members, and, in accordance with Bylaw 30, she has been added as a candidate in the upcoming summer elections. You can view the updated slate here.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 03/18/2019 - 1:34pm by Helen Cullyer.

Pages

Latest Stories

SCS Announcements
The Society for Classical Studies is proud to announce an upgrade to our Prec
Public Statements
Recently, the SCS has focused attention on the importance on the variety of c
Calls for Papers
The twenty-second biennial New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance
Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings
The Presence of Plotinus: The Self, Contemplation, a

© 2019, Society for Classical Studies Privacy Policy