Kenneth Dover

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Kenneth James Dover (with kind permission of KNAW)

Sir Kenneth James Dover, FRSE, FBA (11 March 1920 – 7 March 2010) was a distinguished British Classical scholar and academic, who was President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford and from 1981 until his retirement in December 2005 was Chancellor of the University of St Andrews. He was the author of Greek Homosexuality, a key text on the subject.

Life[edit]

Kenneth Dover was born in London, the only child of Percy Dover and Dorothy Healey. He was educated at St Paul's School and Balliol College, Oxford. He served with the Royal Artillery during the Second World War and was mentioned in dispatches for his service in Italy.

After military service, Dover returned to Oxford and became Fellow and tutor at his old college in 1948. In 1955, Dover was appointed Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews, and was twice Dean of the university's Faculty of Arts during his twenty-one years there.

He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1975. Dover received a knighthood two years later for services to Greek scholarship. In 1976, Dover became President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, a post he held for ten years. During this tenure Dover was engaged in a protracted dispute with the college Librarian and a Fellow in History, Trevor Henry Aston (1925[1]–1985), who suffered from manic depression. Aston's erratic behaviour exasperated Dover and inMarginal Comment, his autobiography, he admitted: "it was clear to me by now that Trevor and the college must somehow be separated. My problem was one which I feel compelled to define with brutal candour: how to kill him without getting into trouble...I had no qualms about causing the death of a fellow from whose nonexistence the college would benefit, but I balked at the prospect of misleading a coroner's jury...consulting a lawyer to see if [I] would be legally at risk if [I] ignored a suicide call." Dover willingly put pressure on Aston and consorted with his doctor to ignore colleagues' expressions of concern. Aston was found dead in his rooms on 17 October 1985 after an overdose.[2]

In 1978, he was elected to the presidency of the British Academy, of which he had been a Fellow since 1966, and served for a term of three years. During the 1980s, he also held positions at Cornell University and Stanford University.

Dover returned to St Andrews as the university's Chancellor in 1981. He was the first Chancellor in the University's history to be neither a peer nor an archbishop. Dover stepped down from the position after twenty-five years of service, effective 31 December 2005.

Honorary degrees[edit]

Dover received honorary degrees from the Universities of Oxford, St Andrews, Birmingham, Bristol, London, Durham, Liverpool, and Oglethorpe.

He was also a foreign member of the American and the Royal Netherlands Academies of Arts and Sciences.

Hobbies[edit]

Beyond his academic honours and pursuits, Dover was well known for his skill and devotion to bird watching and was considered one of Britain's finest birders.[3] As president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford in the 1970s and 80s he was impressive for being able to greet all Corpuscles by name. He achieved this by studying photographs and admitted to having occasional problems identifying new students when beards were in fashion.

Media appearances[edit]

  • Dover featured in an edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme "In the Psychiatrist's Chair", presented by Anthony Clare.
  • He featured in a BBC Television series "The Greeks", presented by Christopher Burstall.

Family[edit]

Dover resided in St Andrews, Fife, where he and his family have had a home since around 1960. He married Audrey Latimer in March 1947; Lady Dover died in December 2009 after 62 years of marriage. Dover died on 7 March 2010, survived by a son and daughter.[4][5]

Selected works[edit]

  • Greek Homosexuality (1978)
  • The Greeks (1980)
  • The Greeks and their Legacy (1988)
  • Ancient Greek Literature (1980)
  • Aristophanic Comedy (1972)
  • Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle (1974)
  • Theocritus: Select Poems (1971)
  • Greek Word Order (1960)
  • Thucydides: Book VI (BCP Greek Texts) (1965)
  • Aristophanes: Clouds (1968)
  • Thucydides, (Greece & Rome New Surveys, 1973)
  • Lysias and the Corpus Lysiacum (1968)
  • The Evolution of Greek Prose Style (1997)
  • Marginal Comment: a memoir, (1994) ISBN 0-7156-2630-2
  • Thucydides: Book VII (1965)
  • Greek and the Greeks: Collected Papers; language, poetry, drama (1987)
  • Aristophanes: Frogs (1993)
  • Plato: Symposium (Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics, 1980)
  • Thucydides' Historical Judgment: Athens and Sicily (Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C, Archaeology, Celtic Studies, history, linguistics, literature)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Deaths England and Wales 1984–2006
  2. ^ Quoted by John Darnton "A Scholar's Memoirs Raise Some Ghosts at Oxford", New York Times, 28 November 1994
  3. ^ Mair, Chris (9 March 2010). "Sir Kenneth Dover". The Scotsman. Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  4. ^ by rogueclassicist. "d.m. Sir Kenneth Dover". Rogueclassicism.com. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Gerard Koskovich, BAR newspaper (18 March 2010)

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Bernard Edward Fergusson, Brigadier The Lord Ballantrae
Chancellor of the University of St Andrews
1981–2005
Succeeded by
Menzies Campbell
Preceded by
President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford
1976–1986
Succeeded by
Keith Thomas