RIP Sir Kenneth Dover

Posted on March 8th, 2010 by

Kenneth Dover, esteemed Greek scholar, passed away on March 7th at 89 years old just a few days before his birthday on March 11.   Please take a moment to read some of his obituaries:

Stephen Halliwell for the Guardian.

Sir Kenneth Dover, who has died aged 89, was a towering figure in the study of ancient Greek language, literature and thought. Very few could approach the range and quality of his scholarship, especially his synthesis of philological, historical and cultural acumen. His name became known to a wider public partly for his groundbreaking 1978 book, Greek Homosexuality, and partly for the publication of his controversial autobiography, Marginal Comment, in 1994.

The Telegraph:

in 1994 he published an autobiography, Marginal Comment, which deliberately shattered the image. The book portrayed a spikily intelligent man who was slave to an urge to demonstrate his emancipation from bourgeois constraints. The reader is not spared the least detail of Dover’s sex life, right down to the culminating horror that at 64 he and his wife enjoyed “some of the best —– of our life”.

from the blog, the campus:

When Kenneth Dover was just 19 (in 1939) Oxford published his winning lines for the Gaisford Prize for Greek Verse. His model was a selection of 113 lines from Racine’s Phèdre, and this publication was reviewed very favorably by the great Lionel Pearson (perhaps best known for The Local Historians of Attica, published three years after this review), who wrote that this “Oxford prize version in iambic trimeter is a reminder that the wholesome and fascinating practice of Greek verse composition has not been abandoned by English undergraduates and that their standard is a high one.”


One Comment

  1. Stewart Flory, Classics says:

    I got to know Kenneth Dover when he and I were invited to give a week-long series of lectures at UCal Davis (A Week with the Greeks). My friend at Davis, David Traill invited me, and he had be been Dover’s student at St. Andrews. but But I had no personal connection with the great man and was daunted by the idea of sharing a stage with him. I enjoyed and commented on his talks and he (luckily) did the same for me. Some correspondence and exchange of offprints followed. He later graciously agreed to support my application for an NEH fellowship, which I duly won.

    I met him just as I was beginning to use the TLG and become enraptured by it. But he had no special need of it. He was himself a TLG on two legs. We discussed in detail Thucydides’ use of certain words. I could keep up with him (and correct him on a minor point) only because I had been studying these words for years.