Bernard Knox

Bernard Knox is a director emeritus of Harvard’s Centre for Hellenic Studies. He fought in the XIth International Brigade at Madrid in the winter of 1936.


Bernard Knox, 11 May 1995

I first came across Christopher Logue’s ‘account’ of the Iliad in 1975 at Oxford where I went to hear a vigorous reading by two young men of Patrocleia, his version of Book XVI. It was an opportunity to experience the poem in its original medium, by the ear rather than the eye. Homer himself had probably chanted his verses plucking the strings of a lyre, like the bard Demodocus in the Odyssey and for many centuries after his death people did not read Homer: they listened to skilled rhapsodes, whose dramatic delivery mesmerised audiences and earned the performers ample rewards, as we know from Plato’s Ion. I learned later, from the Preface to War Music, that Logue had undertaken the project at the suggestion of Donald Carne-Ross, who was then commissioning a version of the Iliad for the BBC.

At Whatever Cost

Bernard Knox, 24 March 1994

Francisco Franco Bahamonde has the dubious distinction of having held onto absolute power longer than any other European dictator of the first half of the 20th century. His 39 years of dictatorship, first as Nationalist supreme commander in the Civil War of 1936-9 and then as Caudillo – God-given leader – of Spain until his death in 1973, leave even his runner-up, Salazar of Portugal, well behind (32), and far outstrip his enemy Stalin (25) and his allies Mussolini (21) and Hitler, whose world-shaking career of war, genocide and destruction lasted a mere 12 years. Paul Preston’s massive biography, on which he has worked for many years, is not, he writes in his Prologue, ‘a history a 20th-century Spain nor an analysis of every aspect of the dictatorship, but rather a close study of the man’.’



11 May 1995

Mr Kleinzahler (Letters, 8 June) cites Pound’s Homage to Sextus Propertius as something I ‘would have to know’ in order to understand ‘good old High Modernism’. It so happens that I read and admired Pound’s version when I was a schoolboy in London in the early Thirties. Pound, however, unlike Logue, did not mangle the structure of his original, introduce a host of new characters with outlandish...

To the crows!

James Davidson, 27 January 1994

A student of Classical literature who first learnt his principal parts and ablatives absolute in the classrooms of an undistinguished grammar school in London in the late Twenties finds himself...

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