Geoffrey Arnott

GEOFFREY ARNOTT of Leeds University was a foremost authority on Greek drama, and a world authority on the Greek comic playwright, Menander.

At Leeds he was appointed Professor and Head of the then department of Greek in 1968. Born in Bury, Lancashire, he arrived at Leeds from a post as Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University, having held academic appointments at Hull and London Universities. Winning the Porson Prize for translation into Greek verse at Cambridge, he had graduated with a First in Classics in 1952, and was awarded his PhD by Cambridge in 1960.

Professor Arnott was a scholar of international distinction. His central research interest was in Greek drama, notably the comedy of the later fourth and third century BC, which was dominated by Menander.

In 1960, Professor Arnott produced a translation of Menander's Dyskolos (The Misanthrope), the one comedy to have survived in its entirety. His book Menander, Plautus and Terence (1975) explored in detail the influence of Menander on his late Roman successors.

Crucially, between 1979 and 2000, he completed a three-volume edition of Menander, based on detailed study of papyrus texts which had lately been excavated. Each of the three volumes attracted high praise on publication, not only for making the fragmentary texts that survived more accessible but also for the light they threw on the texts and the dramatic conventions of the time

In 1996, his Alexis: The Fragments. A Commentary was a work of extraordinary scholarship, running to some 900 pages. It represents a highly important contribution to the study of the development of comedy in the fourth century BC, and also of the development of the Greek language.

Professor Arnott's scholarship also extended to Euripides, Hellenistic poets, the Greek novel, Aristaenetus, Athenaeus and the ornithology of the ancient world. The last of these reflected his lifetime interest in bird watching in many parts of the world. In 2007, he published Birds in the Ancient World from A to Z, the definitive study of Greek ornithological knowledge in classical antiquity. The book is dedicated to the members of the Leeds Birdwatchers' Club, of which Professor Arnott was president from 1981 to 1984, and the local group of the RSPB.

Professor Arnott's international reputation ensured he was in constant demand as a lecturer at a whole range of overseas universities.

He held a visiting appointments at a number of universities, including Princeton, British Columbia, Alexandria, Queensland and Bologna, and in 1987-88 was a Visiting Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He served as a member of the Classical Journals Board from 1970 to 1994 and of the Board of Management of Greece and Rome from 1981 to 1989. He was elected a member of the Italian Society for Classical Antiquities in 1981, and as a Fellow of the British Academy in 1999.

He served for extended periods as the university's representative on both the Court of Hull University and the Governing Body of St Peter's School, York.

Professor Arnott retired from his Chair in 1991, when the title of Emeritus Professor was conferred upon him.

The 80-year-old is survived by his wife, Vera, and their daughters Alison, Hilary and Rosemary.

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