Maurice Pope  died on 1 August 2019 in Normandy, France. Despite a valiant battle against a variety of ailments, he could not escape the wear and tear of his 93 well-lived years. His wife Johanna, daughter and five sons were at his side when he passed away. Three of his sons are old Shirburnians too – Hugh (a 78), Thomas (a 79) and Patrick (m 82).

Maurice Pope was a writer, polymath and professor of classics who taught at the Universities of Cape Town, Oxford and Victoria (in British Columbia, Canada). His passion was for the teaching of Latin and Greek, which he saw as an “abiding necessity”, a source code of unique values that made Greece and Rome the benchmark for future open societies, enabling the rediscovery of the freedoms of religion, expression and politics in the reformation and renaissance.

Maurice Pope was a pioneer of underwater archaeology; at the forefront of efforts to decipher the ancient Minoan script known as Linear A; the author of several books including The Ancient Greeks: How They LIved and Worked and The Story of Decipherment: From Egyptian Hieroglyphic to Linear B; and the contributor of pioneering articles on the use of random selection in choosing government officials and how to understand Shakespeare’s references to medicine and falconry.

His family will remember him not just for his independent moral courage – resigning his prestigious post as Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Cape Town University in 1969 to protest the increasing encroachments of apartheid – but his quirky inventions, his mischievous sense of humour and his determination to do things his own way. As he describes in his memoir “Amateur” ( – which includes 10 pages on what Sherborne was like during the Second World War under headmaster Ross Wallace – he was an old-fashioned auto-didact, and proud of it.

Hugh Pope