Current Postgraduate Research

PhD students

Michelle Borg
Michelle Borg

Pliny the Younger and the Senatorial Opposition to Domitian
My thesis is an examination of the various facets of Pliny’s self-construction as a member of the senatorial opposition to Domitian.

Research interests: Genre studies; epistolography; oratory and rhetoric; reception studies and the ancient world in cinema.

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Lindsay Watson, Dr Paul Roche

Publications:

  • “Epistle 7.24: Literary Layers in Pliny the Younger’s Death Notice on Ummidia Quadratilla” in Michelle Borg & Graeme Miles (edd.) Approaches to Genre in the Ancient World (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013).
  • Michelle Borg & Graeme Miles (edd.) Approaches to Genre in the Ancient World (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013).

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Lindsay Watson, Dr Paul Roche.
Contact:


Steve Clarke

An historical commentary on Demosthenes 8, 'On the Khersonnese'
Demosthenes 8 is a crucial speech which has long been neglected and rarely given the attention it deserves. The speech focuses on Athenian relations with Philip in this crucial northern region and is, moreover, a rhetorical masterpiece. Demosthenes seeks to paint Philip as the sole aggressor in the breaking of the Peace of Philokrates, even though the historical narrative is not supportive of this claim. My thesis seeks to provide the historical background to the speech and explain the historical significance and veracity of all its aspects.

Research interests: Fifth and fourth century Athens; Athenian interests in the northern Aegean; The Peloponnesian War; Athenian democracy.

Supervisors: Prof Alastair Blanshard, Prof Peter Wilson
Contact:


Mary Jane Cuyler
Mary Jane Cuyler

Origins of Ostia: Landscapes of Rome's "First Colony" in the Late Republic
Ostia was thought to be Rome's first colony, and the historian Livy, among others, attributes its foundation to the legendary king Ancus Marcius. Archaeological evidence, however, places the foundation of Ostia in the late 4th century BCE. Ostia's earliest identity was that of the citizen "maritime colony", whose purpose was to guard the coast, and whose residents retained their Roman citizenship. My research examines how the early status of Ostia as a citizen colony affected its urban layout and development (thus explaining its lack of a forum until Tiberius), and pieces together archaeological evidence from the late Republic to build a partial picture of the urban landscape during this tumultuous period. I place the "imagined landscape"–that is, the early history of Ostia's foundations as related by historians and poets–in the context of the political and social milieu of late Republican Rome.

Research interests: landscape archaeology, harbours, early Roman colonization, late Republican Rome, Mycenaean archaeology

Publications:

  • “Rose, Cyperus and Sage and e-ti: The Adornment of Olive Oil in the Palace of Nestor,” in M.-L. Nosch and R. Laffineur, (edd.) KOSMOS: Jewelry, Adornment and Textiles in the Aegean Bronze Age (Aegaeum 33). (Leuven: Peeters, 2012), 655-662.

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Kathryn Welch, Assoc Prof Richard Miles.
Contact:
Website: http://usyd.academia.edu/MaryJaneCuyler


Tracy Davenport

Situation and Organisation in the Empire Building of Tiglath-Pileser III

Supervisors: Dr Noel Weeks, Prof Alastair Blanshard
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Benjamin Ferris

Sparagmos for a Modern World: Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus
This thesis will examine the depiction of Orpheus across the three ‘Orphic’ films of French auteur Jean Cocteau, and how these depictions might reflect broader events within Cocteau’s tumultuous personal life and milieu. The three films occur at critical moments in the development of the French cinema of modern 20th century Paris: the first, ‘Le Sang d’un poète’, occurs during and influences the birth of the French avant-garde movement; the second, ‘Orphée’, during the birth of existentialism in the conservative years immediately after the Second World War; and the third , ‘Le Testament d’Orphée’, coming at the end of Cocteau’s life, anticipates, in many ways, the Nouveau Vague. In this way, Orpheus is present in his classical capacity as singing muse, influencing key artistic movements within the French cinema of modernist Paris.

Supervisor: Prof Alastair Blanshard
Contact:


Michael Hanaghan

Intertextuality and allusion in the letters of Sidonius Apollinaris
My thesis examines Sidonius Apollinaris' use of intertextuality and allusions in selected letters. It argues that these allusions are integral to understanding Sidonius' work, particularly his more literary letters. In line with recent scholarship on Sidonius, it focuses on his letters for their literary value rather than limited historical utility. By limiting its focus to Sidonius' use of allusions the thesis hopes to offer new and at times revisionist interpretations of some of Sidonius' more elaborate textual performances. Fundamentally, the thesis suggests that the sections of Sidonius' letters that have been subject to modern aesthetic criticism are indicative of the failure of modern scholarship to appreciate certain nuances, noticeably Sidonius' manipulation of the genre of epistolography, use of allusions and humour. It hopes to contribute to a growing understanding of the large-scale literary output of fifth century Gaul and renewed interest in this influential late antique author.

Research Interests: Late Antiquity, Intertextuality, Epistolography, Fifth century CE Gallic Aristocracy, Sidonius Apollinaris

Supervisors: Dr Anne Rogerson, Assoc Prof Richard Miles.
Contact:


Katherine Harper
Katherine Harper

Cato and the Stoic Tradition in Revolutionary America
Since at least the 1960s, historians such as John Pocock and Bernard Bailyn have pointed to the importance of classical learning as an inspiration for the American revolutionaries. Their accounts, however, have become harnessed to a celebratory and progressive understanding of the Revolution. Classical republicanism has been presented as an inspiration for the Founders who knew that they were fighting for liberty and independence, and were assured of victory in their cause. By focusing on Stoic thought my thesis shows that the American Revolution was not the triumphant and assured struggle for liberty that current historiography dictates. The literature indicates that the Founding generation used Stoicism to contemplate the corruption of the British Empire, and concluded that a Cato-like suicide was the only assured means of maintaining their virtue and obtaining liberty. The Americans come to look less like ‘Revolutionaries’ and, instead, can be seen as making a desperate last stand for republican liberty in opposition to tyrannical rule imposed by the British Empire.

Research interests: Classical Reception Studies, American Revolution, Jewish-Roman relations, Early Christianity

Supervisors: Prof Alastair Blanshard, Assoc Prof Andrew Fitzmaurice
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Daniel Irwin

Livy and Polybius: Intertextuality and Authority
In the last few years a number of publications have sought to understand Livy in intertextual terms, showing the ways in which his text responds to and builds upon the texts of other historians. A full understanding of Livy cannot be attained without understanding how he relates to all his sources, and Polybius provides a unique example to study. The present thesis undertakes a complete re-evaluation of Livy's text as it relates to the text of Polybius, building upon recent scholarship and taking it in new directions. In addition, it will be seen that these intertextual relationships can be placed within the competitive discourse of ancient historiography with particular attention paid to the nature of translation and imitation. The thesis draws on the study of allusions, narratology, metahistory and other historiographical disciplines to discuss these relationships.

Research interests: Ancient Historiography, Livy, Authority in Ancient Authors, Translation Studies

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Richard Miles, Dr Bob Cowan.
Contact:


William Kennedy

Antisthenes: an Edition of the Fragments with Prolegomenon and Commentary
In antiquity Antisthenes was one of the most admired writers and philosophers of the Classical period, but now he is all but forgotten. His fragments have never been published with a translation or a commentary in any language. This thesis will be an edition of the fragments with commentary, prefaced by some introductory essays.

Supervisors: Prof Eric Csapo, Prof Rick Benitez
Contact:


Kit Morrell
Kit Morrell

Cato and the Governance of the Mediterranean World (working title)
My research examines attempts to reform provincial government during the Late Republic and the political and historical context of these efforts. I hope to show that Romans in this period were genuinely interested in improving the treatment of their subjects, and that figures traditionally seen as combatants could in fact be collaborators in this project. The last Republican lex repetundarum was passed in 59 BC but was certainly not the end of the story. I am particularly interested in the various other strategies (administrative, fiscal, ethical) adopted in the 50s in an attempt to achieve what a series of extortion laws had failed to do, and in the role of M. Porcius Cato as proponent of reform.

Research interests: Political history of the Roman Republic; Roman law; ancient historiography; philosophy, ethics, and virtue-vocabulary; M. Porcius Cato ‘Uticensis’.

Supervisor: Assoc Prof Kathryn Welch
Contact:


Robert (Todd) Stanton

1 Samuel 3 in its Ancient Near Eastern Context (working title)

Supervisors: Dr Noel Weeks, Dr Julia Kindt
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D Arts Students

Paul James

The Supply Chain of Critical Food Items to Rome - AD200 to AD500
The Imperial authorities of Rome supplied the city of Rome in particular and the Empire in general, including the army, with a wide range of staple food items for at least five hundred years. This is arguably one of the longest, most complicated, continuous multi-product supply operations to occur until the modern era and for this reason alone is well worth studying. The Romans were able to adapt to new challenges throughout this period as circumstances and technology dictated, which is contrary to the traditional view that they managed by 'rule of thumb, tradition or habit'. In fact, the Romans used techniques which are thought to be exclusively modern developments such as integrated inventory management, light-weighting of packaging such as the amphorae used to carry product (a focus for all modern packaging companies), the concept of contracting out ‘non-core' public services and the ability to organise complex supply chains.

The basic premise of this thesis is to establish the supply model for Rome and its logical surrounding area culminating in the definition of the volume of product supplied and the details of how this was managed. The size of the market will be determined by estimating the area of supply, the average dietary intake for the estimated population size. This will then allow the other key factors including the means of transporting and storing the product, the controls used and the constraints of the system and how they were managed to be determined far more accurately than has previously been possible.

Supervisors:Assoc Prof Richard Miles, Assoc Prof Kathryn Welch
Contact:


Anthony Mulligan

How effective was the image created by the Aemilian family in maintaining a pre-eminent position in Roman politics & society?
In my preliminary research, what has become apparent is that although various modern scholars have investigated individual members of the Aemilii, & their influence on the Roman state, there is no large-scale study of the influence of the family as a whole. The image they created to gain support of other aristocratic families & the people, & how their peers viewed them has also received little attention. Through this exploration, I wish to establish whether a specific family identity existed, & if so, whether an ongoing set of values & iconography were created & exploited. This identity may be expressed through political activities (elections & marriage) & iconography, & be established through epigraphical & literary means.

I propose to establish whether there is a unique &/or specific ideological language that is used to portray the Aemilian family, & by extension other Roman families. I hope to add to current scholarship through the examination of the Aemilian family’s pursuit of such qualities as fama, gloria & virtus, measured against those standards established through conventions & precedent in Roman society, & generally agreed upon by historians, & other Roman families & individuals. I hope also to establish whether the image created by the Aemilian family members was an ad hoc blending of a range of individuals’ achievements & political activities, or a concerted & discernible long-term plan.

Research Interests: Cleopatra, Pompeii & Herculaneum, the Second Triumvirate, Roman-Egyptian relations to AD68.

Supervisor: Dr Eleanor Cowan
Contact:


Carol Scott

The role of women in the cultural memory of the Roman Republic
This thesis will interrogate the role of women in the Roman Republic in shaping, preserving and maintaining Roman cultural memory. It will argue that women were intrinsic to a shared foundational past. It will demonstrate that women were custodians of some of the most significant aspects of the collective cultural memory through their role in civic religion, rites and rituals and that this role was shared with and was complementary to that of men.

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Kathryn Welch, Prof John North
Contact:


MPhil students

Liam Ahern

Autopsy in Early Greek Poetry

Autopsy (the concept of seeing for oneself) has cemented itself as a buzzword for the historiographical projects of Herodotus and Thucydides and brings readily to mind the intellectual revolution of the 6th and 5th centuries bce which called into question traditional forms of authority and heralded a new understanding of sense perception. This thesis, however, explores the prehistory of this concept and examines its role in the poetical tradition of Archaic and early Classical Greece. It investigates in what way autopsy is used as either a basis of or supplement to the authority of the poet, narrator or speaker within a work. Ranging through a number of genres of poetry, this thesis offers not only a broad survey of the evidence of early poetic autopsy, but also a close analysis of its form and function.

Supervisors: Dr Julia Kindt, Dr Ben Brown

Contact:


Samantha Brancatisano
Samantha Brancatisano

Infamia in the Late Roman Republic (working title)
My thesis seeks to investigate the role of reputation (existimatio) in the law of the late Roman Republic. Specifically, it attempts to determine the degree to which the later concept of infamia, in the technical sense manifested in the legal Codes of the imperial period, already existed and was employed in forensic contexts by the end of the Republic. It will do this primarily through an analysis of the forensic speeches and legal philosophy of Cicero.

Research Interests: Republican Rome; Roman legal history; Cicero; the politics of reputation

Supervisors: Dr Eleanor Cowan, Dr Paul Roche
Contact:


Lee Coulson

Plato and the euêthesteroi: simple-minded wisdom
Plato apparently believed that there was a fundamental crisis in Attic politics and its attendant sophist society. This premise encourages consideration of Plato's politics as what Thoukydides styled, a factional struggle between the friends of political equality and the upholders of aristocratic order. To address what he regarded as this moral and civic malaise, I argue that Plato devised a philosophical methodology to produce wiser, and therefore superior, humans. In creating his rational method Plato called upon extant and widely accepted Attic muthos, skillfully evoking its reality in his dialogues’ imitation of the muthos' alleged meaning and import. Plato uses this attributive technique to develop his didactic philosophical discourse, transmuting traditional muthos to the logos of his novel muthos, that we may suppose he regarded as more valid, inclusive, and useful. The mythic euethesteroi are among the ancient exemplars he employs.

The word euetheia has ambivalent meanings and may be taken to mean goodness of heart, guilelessness, simplicity, silliness, and noble imbecility. In antiquity euetheia by and large was a pejorative term implying the latter. Yet, consider Thoukydides’ use of euethes and gennaios, and Sokrates’ depiction of the Euethesteroi as an antediluvian people who survived a periodic destruction, a Platonic ideal of noble, righteous, and virtuous character moderated by comparative harmony. Devoid of insolence and injustice, rivalry and jealousy the Euethesteroi trusted what they heard of gods and man; lies were neither told nor suspected. I survey and consider the notion of euetheia, the synchronic semantic analysis of the root eueth-, the term's evolution, and its pragmatic role in Plato's philosophic method and political anthropology.

Research interests: Ancient Philosophy and Political Anthropology, Cosmology, Meta Ethics.

Supervisors: Prof Eric Csapo, Prof Rick Benitez
Contact:


Bryn Ford
Bryn Ford

Primitivist morality in accounts of the Desert Fathers
This thesis examines the literature surrounding the fourth and fifth century “Desert Fathers”, the early ascetics of the Egyptian desert. The range of texts which described and sanctified this movement for an outside audience have typically been read almost exclusively through the lens of Christian literature and history; this thesis instead adopts the approach of reading them as part of the history of Graeco-Roman thought, with specific reference to their reuse of classical topoi idealising primitive lifestyles and peoples. It is argued that authors of desert literature conceptualised the monastic movement through these long-established ways of thinking, while intermingling them with compatible images and ideas from the Judaeo-Christian tradition. The thesis is divided into three chapters, each examining the ‘primitivism’ displayed in a particular text or set of texts. Chapter 1 considers the works of St Jerome, including his Letters and Life of St Paul; chapter 2 considers the anonymous Historia Monachorum in Aegypto; and chapter 3 considers the Apophthegmata Patrum, a major sayings collection better known today as the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

Research interests: Roman cultural-intellectual history, ancient geography and ethnography, ancient approaches to space and landscape, early Christianity, ancient North Africa

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Richard Miles, Dr Bob Cowan
Contact:


Alina Kozlovski
Alina Kozlovski

Off the Map: The Conceptualisation of Urban Space in the Ancient Roman World
My thesis examines the way that ancient urban spaces would have been experienced by combining both the archaeological remains and the impressions left in the literary record. I am particularly interested in trying to understand how ancient spaces may have been conceptualised in a world where maps were nowhere near as available as they are today.

Research interests: history and archaeology of the Roman republic, history and archaeology of Italy, Roman architecture, cartography, urban theory

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Kathryn Welch, Dr Eleanor Cowan
Contact:


RECENTLY AWARDED

PhD

Maxine Lewis

Catullus and the poetics of place (2011)
Now Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Auckland
Publications:

  • ‘Audience, Communication and Textuality in Catullus Carmen 67’, Antichthon 43 (2009) 34-49.

Contact:
Webpage: Click here for website


Judy Goodsell

Ovid’s Heroides and Catullus 64: An Intertextual Study (2011)
My thesis seeks to advance the understanding of the Heroides’ literary complexity and their relationship with past literary tradition by exploring and analysing their intertextual interaction with the precedent Catullus 64. This interplay is shown to shape significantly the reading of the epistles by serving to establish the framework of abandonment through which Ovid’s heroines articulate their grievances and to inform much of the rhetoric of the epistles.

Research Interests: Latin Poetry, especially of the Late Republican and Augustan Periods, and Latin Prose Fiction and Letters.

Supervisor: Frances Muecke


Christopher Malone

Militia, Ideology, and Administration in the Late Roman Empire (2012)
Now Lecturer in Classics at the University of Queensland

Supervisor: Dr Peter Brennan
Contact:
Webpage: http://www.uq.edu.au/hprc/dr-christopher-malone

Publications:

  • ‘The Virtue of Rage in the Fourth Century’, in B. Sidwell and D. Dzino (eds.), Studies in Emotions and Power in the Late Roman World: Papers in Honour of Ron Newbold, (Gorgias Press, 2010) 73-99.
  • ‘Violence on Roman Imperial Coinage’, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia 20, (2009/10), 58-72.

Peta Greenfield
Petra Greenfield

Virgin Territory: The Vestals and the Transition from Republic to Principate (2012)

The Vestal Virgins were the highest profile group of priestesses in ancient Rome. My thesis explores the activity and representation of the Vestals during the politically volatile late Republican period (c. 150 BCE onwards) and the Augustan Age (ending in 14 CE). My research has focussed on the ways in which these priestesses reacted, adapted, and were forced to change as a result of transition from Roman Republic to Augustan Principate.

Research Interests: The politics of the Augustan Age, the role of women in the Late Republic and early Imperial period, Roman religion, religious and social taboo.

Supervisors: Assoc Prof Lindsay Watson, Dr Eleanor Cowan, Dr Julia Kindt


MPhil

Zachary Phillips

Poetry and Philosophy in Classical Sparta (2013)

The typical view of Classical Sparta as a boorish and backwards polis has dominated modern scholarship, yet most researchers agree that this idea does not hold for Archaic and Hellenistic Sparta. My thesis re-examines this view (the Spartan Mirage) to show that Classical Sparta actively involved itself in the cultural atmosphere of Greece, particularly in the realms of poetry and philosophy.

Research Interests: Classical Sparta; Greek Military History; Greek Historiography; Oligarchy and Democracy in Athens

Supervisors: Prof Eric Csapo, Prof Peter Wilson


Stephen Wakefield

Harlots, pimps and wily slaves: the picaresque world of Roman comedy (2013)
This thesis employs the concept of the ‘picaresque’, taken from Spanish Golden Age literature, to take a fresh look at certain characters, scenarios and themes in the Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence.

Supervisor: Dr Bob Cowan


Cassandra Wenman

Mortal Approaches to the Unknowability of the Divine in Euripides' Bakkhai (2013)

My thesis explores the concept of the unknowable divine in ancient Greek religious thought through an analysis of Euripides' Bakkhai. In the Bakkhai, Euripides investigates the ways in which beliefs and ideas about the nature of, and dangers presented by, the divine unknowable are developed by mortals. While the idea that the ancient Greeks believed in divine will, fate and an ultimately unknowable plan of the gods is not a new one, I will argue that it is one which has not been satisfactorily explored as a part of religious and tragic discourse, and that Euripides' use of this significant ancient Greek religious perspective in the Bakkhai reveals how unknowability works as an impetus for religious innovation, assimilation and change.

Research interests: Euripides, Greek Religion, Mystery Religions, Development of Religious Ideas

Supervisors: Dr Julia Kindt, Prof Peter Wilson