DR MARTIN West, who has died aged 77, was described as the most brilliant classical scholar of his generation.

The honorary fellow of All Souls College in Oxford was a world-renowned expert on ancient Greek literature and a prolific researcher.

In his career of more than 50 years, he published major texts on Greek music, tragedy and lyric poetry, as well as about 200 research papers.

He was awarded the Balzan Prize for Classical Antiquity in 2000, as well as the British Academy Kenyon Medal for Classical Studies in 2002.

When giving its reasons, the academy said: “In the field of classical scholarship, as traditionally understood, Martin West is to be judged, on any reckoning, the most brilliant and productive Greek scholar of his generation, not just in the United Kingdom, but worldwide.

“His publications represent a lifetime achievement of extraordinary richness and distinction.”

Last year he was appointed to the Order of Merit, limited to just 24 members and dubbed “the most exclusive club in the world”, for individuals of “great achievement” in the fields of the arts, learning, literature and science.

He was only the seventh classical scholar to earn the accolade in the 113-year history of the Order, whose past members included Florence Nightingale, Thomas Hardy, Lord Kitchener and former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

Martin West was born in London on September 23 1937 and went to St Paul’s School, before going to study classics at Balliol College.

He graduated in 1959 and in 1960 started as a research fellow at St John’s College.

In 1963 he became a fellow and praelector in classics at University College, before taking the role of Professor of Greek at Bedford College in 1974.

He returned to Oxford in 1991, becoming a senior research fellow at All Souls College. In 2004 he was made emeritus fellow and after that an honorary fellow.

In 2001 he celebrated the millennium by producing a new translation of the epic poem the Iliad, by Homer.

And his past major works also included texts and commentaries on Hesiod’s Theogony in 1966, Works and Days in 1978, The Orphic Poems in 1983 and The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women in 1985.

The prolific body of work was praised for the mastery it showed of his field, but also for its clarity.

The British Academy said in 2002: “His intellect and productivity put him in a class entirely of his own”.

Dr West met his wife, Dr Stephanie West nee Pickard, at a lecture by former Chair in Latin Edward Fraenkel at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

The pair married in 1960, in Nottingham and lived together in Polstead Road, Oxford.

They had two children, Rachel in 1963 and Robert in 1965.

Martin West died suddenly at his Oxford home on Monday, July 13. Arrangements for his funeral have yet to be confirmed.

He is survived by his wife, two children and two grandchildren, Sophie and Luke.