Ill health no obstacle to classics scholar

University of Otago graduate John Kaye reflects on his interest in Philip of Macedon, father of...
University of Otago graduate John Kaye reflects on his interest in Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. A recent essay by Mr Kaye is in the foreground. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Three months after having a stroke and being critically ill in Dunedin Hospital, University of Otago graduate John Kaye is enjoying good health again and is once more able to sharpen his ancient Greek language skills.

He dislocated his spine in August 1984 when playing rugby for the university under-19 rugby team.

Mr Kaye (42), who has been in home care since 1986, is a ventilator-dependent tetraplegic, but has learned to breathe for himself unassisted for several hours a day.

Undaunted by his challenging circumstances, he has studied hard over the years and has now gained three university qualifications, the first a BA majoring in computer science (1998).

His growing passion for the classics has been reflected, more recently, in a diploma for graduates and a postgraduate diploma in arts, the latter including a 11,000-word research essay, given an A grade by examiners.

Mr Kaye had been "very sick" early this year, requiring surgery in March to repair a pressure sore.

It had since taken him some time to get over an unrelated stroke, which he experienced in hospital, after the operation, he said yesterday.

"The surgeons and other staff were fantastic," he added.

Mr Kaye said he was concerned that recent changes in Inland Revenue Department legislation covering home care of ACC clients could result in changes to the routines and systems built up over the past 22 years with the support of his parents, Vincent and Elwyn Kaye.

Such changes could also damage his academic future, he said.

Initially a rather reluctant student of the Greek language, Mr Kaye has since gained considerable satisfaction from being able to read some of the language in its original form, and not having to rely solely on translations.

He has also been grateful for the free tutoring in Greek long provided to him each week by his friend and mentor John Walsh, a classics doctoral student.

The Greek study is to prepare Mr Kaye for his next academic goal: tackling an MA degree in classics.

Dr Pat Wheatley, an Otago classics senior lecturer, said Mr Kaye had "an excellent mind" and could cut quickly to the core of an issue.

In his research essay, Mr Kaye argued that some of the treasures found in ancient tombs in northern Greece were likely to have belonged to Alexander the Great.

It was notable that two international classics scholars had more recently reached the same conclusion, Dr Wheatley said.


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