Today I’ve been scanning the obits of K.J. Dover who died a week ago. Dover was my professor of Greek at St. Andrews University and a commanding figure though not in the way one might have assumed. By the time I arrived in 1970, he had already put St. Andrews on the map for classics, but at first sight he was a reserved and dignified figure whose lectures were delivered in almost a monotone, with none of the declaiming or rhetorical flourishes employed by some of his colleagues (not that declaiming was really called for in the intimate classrooms of Swallowgate!) But like The Times obituary writer, I do remember how well written Dover’s lectures were so that the temptation was simply to transcribe them word for word – encouraged by the fact that they were delivered at the exact pace that made this possible (albeit at severe risk of writer’s cramp.)
I think that feeling of exactitude is what I remember most. How else could anyone possibly grapple with the use of the Greek particle or to even begin to decipher the finer points of Greek Word Order?
The latter title still sits on my shelf. I probably read it once. I’m sure I never understood it. It’s a memento of having been in the presence of its author, a man of fierce intellect who let his learning speak for itself.