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Tributes paid to Dr Roger Dawe

Tributes have been paid to Dr Roger Dawe (1934-2020), classicist and Fellow of Trinity College, who was best known for his work on the Greek text of Sophocles.

Dr Dawe after retirement at home

Dr Dawe published an important book on the textual transmission of Aeschylus before turning his attention to Sophocles and the scholarly work for which he will be most remembered.

Three exploratory studies on various aspects of the text of Sophocles were followed by new editions of all seven extant Sophoclean plays for the Teubner library of Classical authors. His commentary on the Oedipus Rex for the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics series has been through many reprints. He also published in Classical journals conjectures on a wide range of Greek authors, as well as longer discussions of the methodology of textual criticism.

Towards the end of his teaching career he turned his attention to Homer’s Odyssey, and produced a large-scale volume with close translation and detailed notes designed to introduce readers to technical problems in the poem’s transmission.

Trinity Fellow, Dr Neil Hopkinson, paid tribute:

Roger’s supervisions were in every sense challenging. His published work could be caustic and polemical, and in conversation he would lament declining standards in linguistic attainment and deplore modern literary criticism of almost any kind. For all that, he was a major Greek scholar of international distinction and reputation, and his work will be respected and consulted by students of Sophocles so long as Sophocles is read in Greek.

Dr Dawe early in his career

Another Trinity Fellow, Professor Nicholas Postgate, recalls ‘being teased as a raw freshman suffering from the unfamiliarity of Greek accents by the eminent but not unkindly Dr Dawe. Like other Trinity colleagues I would go on to enjoy more convivial encounters with the severe Sophoclean editor on the tennis court and the bowling green.’

Dr Dawe was an encouraging mentor to many members of College. Gosia Machaj, of the Catering Department, said:

I met Dr Roger Dawe in 2005 when I began working at Trinity College. He was kind enough to offer me his help in improving my English. From that time he helped me in this task. I will remember him as a man with great patience, a sense of humour, respect for the rules and love for his gorgeous garden.

Dr Dawe retired in the early 2000s but continued to publish and occasionally to supervise students. In 2018 he moved to France, where he was cared for by his daughter. He died in hospital in Cognac on 16 February 2020.

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