Obituary: Professor John Gould

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JOHN GOULD was an innovative scholar and inspiring teacher of all aspects of ancient Greek literature and culture, and a lover of modern Greece and its people. Few things delighted him more than to discover evidence for continuities between the two worlds, despite the differences to which he was equally alive. This was part of his unquenchably fresh and illuminating eye for the patterns and connections in human experience, across disciplines, cultures and centuries, combined with a recognition of the "incorrigible plurality" of the world; it was the sense of the importance of the indivisibility of language, cultures and literatures which made his scholarship and his teaching so memorable.

Born in 1927, he was educated at University College School, Hampstead, and Jesus College, Cambridge, where he took a double First in Classics. His research career began as a Research Fellow at Jesus, and resulted in his first book, The Development of Plato's Ethics (1955), an individual account of changes in Plato's style and thought, which also shows the beginnings of his commitment to the historical study of Greek words and concepts from Homer on.

From 1953 to 1967 he was Student of Christ Church, Oxford, and Tutor in Greek and Latin Literature. As one he taught in the 1960s, I recall with much affection the fun and stimulation of his tutorials, with their ceaseless flow of ideas, and the generous friendship and hospitality he offered. In those years his attention was focused above all on Greek tragedy, its conditions of theatrical performance and its formal structures as well as the interpretation of the plays. The first result was the invaluable revision he made with his Christ Church colleague David Lewis of Sir Arthur Pickard- Cambridge's 1953 classic The Dramatic Festivals of Athens (1968); many papers on tragedy followed in later years, though not, regrettably, the book on Euripides.

Another feature of his time at Oxford was the work he and others undertook, under the leadership of E.R. Dodds, towards the reform of the traditional Classics syllabus which ended the division between the initial study of language and literature ("Mods") and the subsequent concentration on Ancient History and Philosophy ("Greats"). The reform, ironically, was only enacted after he left Oxford, but it has enabled Classics undergraduates in Oxford to continue to study language and literature in conjunction with other disciplines throughout their degrees.

Between 1968 and 1974 he held the Chair of Classics in Swansea, and with his new colleagues again played a leading role in significant syllabus reform, opening up the serious study of ancient literature and history to those who had not hitherto had the opportunity to learn Latin and Greek. Equally, from the late 1960s his passionate commitment to promote effective learning of ancient Greek in the changing educational climate led to a long-standing involvement, through the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, in the annual Summer Schools held at Cheltenham, and, as Chair of the Steering Committee, in the production of Reading Greek and related textbooks. This was a radically new approach to teaching Greek language and culture to sixth-formers, undergraduates and adults.

His interest now deepened in anthropology and the contribution it could make to the understanding of Greek culture and literature; originally fired by the work and personal inspiration of Dodds, it was enhanced by his reading of J. …