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Obituary: Dr Hans B Gottschalk

Members will be very sorry to learn of the death, on 4 April 2004, of Dr Hans Benedikt Gottschalk, former Reader in Classics.

Born in Germany in 1930, Dr Gottschalk came to England in 1938. He won a scholarship to read Classics at Peterhouse, Cambridge and, having graduated in 1952, proceeded to undertake research for a PhD, which he was awarded in 1957, on the criticism and development of Aristotles philosophy in the early Peripatetic School.

While at Cambridge, he held a John Stewart of Rannoch Scholarship and The Charles Oldham Classical Scholarship. Following a spell as Sixth-form Classics master at Uppingham School, Dr Gottschalk was appointed Assistant Lecturer at Leeds in January 1958 and promoted to Lecturer in the following year.

Dr Gottschalk was an outstanding scholar, with an international reputation in the field of post-Aristotelian philosophy, in particular the Peripatetic School and philosophers including Theophrastus and Heraclides. His penetrating acumen and exceptionally wide general erudition in the classical area fitted him for the exacting, highly complex and meticulous scholarship required to reconstruct, analyse and interpret ancient texts often surviving in only fragmentary form.

Dr Gottschalks research produced a number of acclaimed books and articles; his first book, a monograph on Strato of Lampsacus, was published in 1965 and was welcomed as an important and illuminating addition to the knowledge of the Aristotle School after Aristotles death. Dr Gottschalks subsequent book, Heraclides of Pontus (1980) was published to glowing reviews, one reviewer describing it as a little classic of exact scholarship, sober but imaginative, full of learning and judgement, pleasantly written and lucidly organised. These books were augmented by a series of articles and reviews, published in leading classical journals including Gnomon, Hermes and Classical Quarterly, which offered many new and original insights into their subject.

Far from being a narrow specialist, Dr Gottschalk also published on other topics in Greek philosophy and Roman literature. Promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1981, he was made Reader in Classics in 1982.

Reflecting his breadth of learning across the whole spectrum of the classics, Dr Gottschalk taught over a wide range. He took a substantial part in language teaching at all levels in both Latin and Greek and also taught courses on classical civilisations, Greek and Roman literature and philosophy; although the last of these did not appeal equally to all students, there were always a number who were fired by his manifest enthusiasm for, and profound knowledge of, the subject.

Dr Gottschalks involvement in other departmental activities included acting for many years as secretary to staff and staff-student committees, his minutes of meetings being models of lucidity and brevity. He served on the Board of the Faculties of Arts, Economic and Social Studies and Law, and on the Board of Studies for the Centre for Mediaeval Studies; his expert knowledge proved a valuable resource to departments requiring assistance with scientific or technical Latin of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Externally, Dr Gottschalk served at various times as an elected Council member of the Hellenic Society and as an office-holder in the Northern Association for Ancient Philosophy and the local branch of the Classical Association. He was also invited to contribute articles on ancient philosophy to German and international encyclopaedias.

Dr Gottschalk retired from his post in September 1996, after nearly thirty-nine years service, but maintained his scholarly interests and his association with the School of Classics, including, until comparatively recently, the co-supervision of a PhD student. In 2003, an international conference on Heraclides of Pontus was organised at Oxley Hall, in Dr Gottschalks honour.

A Requiem Mass for Dr Gottschalk will be held in Leeds Cathedral (the Cathedral Church of St Annes), Cookridge Street, Leeds 2, at 1.30 p.m. on Monday 19 April 2004. Family flowers only. Donations can be made to Macmillan Nursing.

The flag on the Parkinson Building will be flown at half-mast on Monday.

Published: 8 April 2004