Professor of Classical and Comparative Literature (King's College London)
Adjunct Faculty in Comparative Literature
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.
Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1969
M.A., Cambridge University, 1967
B.A., Cambridge University, 1964