English-born US classics scholar and author. He earned his PhD at Yale University in 1948 and taught classics there (1948–61). He later served as the founding director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, an affiliate of Harvard University based in Washington, DC (1961–85).
Knox established his reputation with lucid prose in his first book Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles' Tragic Hero and His Time (1957). He later edited The Norton Book of Classical Literature (1993), a widely used anthology for US students. Other books include The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy (1980), Word and Action: Essays on the Ancient Theatre (1980), and The Oldest Dead White European Males and Other Reflections on the Classics (1993). In addition to his articles, reviews, and translations, he wrote introductions to modern translations of Homer's The Iliad (1990) and The Odyssey (1996), and Virgil's The Aeneid (2006).
Knox was born in Bradford, England. He gained his BA at St John's College, Cambridge University, England, in 1936, after which he went to Spain and fought (and was wounded) with the International Brigade in the Civil War. He emigrated to the USA in 1939. While serving with the US Army in Europe during World War II (1942–45), he became a US citizen in 1943, and was awarded two Bronze Stars and the French croix de guerre.
While pursuing his academic career, Knox wrote the script for and performed in four films for educational television on Sophocles's Oedipus the King; these films are still used in classrooms throughout the USA. He was the assistant editor and a contributor to Volume I of the Cambridge History of Classical Literature (1985).