Professor of Classical and Comparative Literature (King's College London)
Adjunct Faculty in Comparative Literature
Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1969
M.A., Cambridge University, 1967
B.A., Cambridge University, 1964
My current title is Professor of Classical and Comparative Literature, and as a classicist (which I have been for my whole academic career) I have always centred my efforts on exploring the relations between ancient literature and literature as a whole. My first serious publication (in 1971/2) was an exercise in comparative literature: a meditation on the affinities between one Roman poet (Virgil) and two English poets (Keats and T. S. Eliot). My current project is a collaborative study of the classical tradition (in 'art, literature, thought') which, on the literary side, attempts a mapping of Western literature, from the Middle Ages to our own generation, in terms of its relation to the ancient world.
A fair bit of my work has been in the area of drama, and I spent many stressful but happy years overseeing the King's Greek Play (an anuual production, and always in Greek). The point as I saw it was to communicate with today's audience (there being no other kind to communicate with). I usually designed the music, which, for comedies in particular, was often jazz-based: jazz is one of my deepest loves, and I play the trumpet (with modest ability) myself. During one grandly exuberant production of an Aristophanic comedy (in 1981), I recall the feeling of triumph, after one matinée performance, when I heard a group of schoolgirls on the tube singing songs from the show. A few minutes into another matinée in that same run, a schoolmaster (as we guessed) walked out of the theatre clutching his Greek text and muttering, ' came to see Aristophanes, not this jazzed-up rubbish.' The philosopher Kierkegaard, honorary father of existentialism, once said: 'It is not worth while remembering a past that cannot become a present.' Wonderful motto.