Current Postgraduate Research

PhD students

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

Lee Coulson

Plato and the εὐηθέστεροι: simplicity, virtue and wisdom
Plato apparently believed that there was a fundamental crisis in Attic politics and its attendant sophist society. This premise encourages consideration of what Thoukydides styled, the factional struggle between the friends of political equality and the upholders of aristocratic order. To address this moral and civic malaise Plato devised a methodology to produce philosophers and, therefore, wiser citizens, by encouraging Athenians to better discern the ethical realties of Attic ‘modernity'.

I argue these efforts to relativise contemporary ethics motivated the presentation of virtuously superior archaic forebears who warranted imitation. Hence, his resuscitation of εὐήθεια, as connoting noble goodness of heart, temperance and courage is critical to his philosophic endeavour. Indeed, I submit the mythic εὐηθέστεροι come to serve as Plato’s exemplars of unaffected simple goodness.

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

Supervisors: Prof Eric Csapo, Prof Rick Benitez

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


  • “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.

Tracy Davenport

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

Supervisors: Dr Noel Weeks, Prof Alastair Blanshard

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

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.

William (Billy) Kennedy
William (Billy) Kennedy

Antisthenes the Socratic: The Fragments (edited with introduction, translation, and commentary)
Antisthenes, the closest companion of Socrates, was a major writer and thinker of the fifth-century BC. As an enormously influential figure in the fields of literature and philosophy, in antiquity he enjoyed an excellent reputation. In modern times, however, due largely to the inaccessability of the fragments, he has been almost entirely neglected. My thesis is an edition of all of the texts of Antisthenes, with translation (the first in any language), and interpretative study.

Research interests: Antisthenes, Socratic philosophy, Plato, birth of the dialogue, aristocratic ideology, early literary criticism

Supervisors: Prof Eric Csapo, Prof Rick Benitez

Robert (Todd) Stanton

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

Supervisors: Dr Noel Weeks, Dr Julia Kindt

Irene Stone
Irene Stone

Speeches and Speechmaking in Herodotus’ Histories
Speeches and speechmaking are key features of the world Herodotus describes – as well as the world he inhabits. The use of direct discourse is widespread in the Histories, speechmaking an essential element. Yet this dimension of his work is still to receive the scholarly attention it deserves. My thesis seeks to address this anomaly. It provides the first comprehensive study of the role of speeches and speechmaking in Herodotus’ Histories. To this end, it considers the way in which direct discourse, and the ability to express oneself in conversation, features throughout the Histories, both as a powerful historiographic tool and as a key attribute of Herodotus’ historical characters. The overall aim is to position Herodotus firmly in the rhetorical life of the late fifth- and early fourth century BCE.

Research interests: Ancient Greek History, Herodotus, Historiography, Greco-Roman Rhetoric

Supervisors: Associate Prof Julia Kindt Associate Prof Eric Csapo

Byron Waldron
Byron Waldron

The Ideological Framework of the Tetrarchy (working title)
The so-called ‘Tetrarchy’, the college of four emperors set up by Diocletian in 293 CE, seems to fall outside of established customs and procedures in the way that it functioned. Unprecedentedly, the empire was administered by four emperors, sons were overlooked in the appointment of successors, and emperors voluntarily abdicated or planned to abdicate after a period of rule. I explore the ideological framework of this new system, studying Diocletian's regime in the context of developments in the third century. These developments occurred with respect to collegiality, dynasty, attitudes towards youth, inter-regional relations, and the political involvement of the empire's legions and military officers. In contrast with existing scholarship, I consider the role of the army and the military background of the emperors to be of paramount importance in understanding the regime's political innovations, using social and military history to encourage a new way of looking at this experiment in imperial leadership.

Research interests: Late Antiquity; The Empire of Diocletian and Constantine; The Empire in the Third Century; Roman Imperial Ideology and Propaganda; Late Roman Politics; Coins; Panegyric; The Roman Army.

Supervisors: Associate Prof Richard Miles, Associate Prof Kathryn Welch

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

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

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

MPhil students

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

Tatiana Bur
Tatiana Bur

Mechanical Miracles: Automata in ancient Greek Religion
The thesis examines the evidence for the use of automata in ancient festivals and temples, looking at the peculiar place of mechanical ingenuity within ancient Greek entertainment and religion. I am interested the symbolic and aesthetic value of these self-moving machines, and how they might have been conceptualised by spectators in their performative contexts.

Research interests: Ancient Greek religion; ancient performance and entertainment; Greek Classical and Hellenistic social history; historiography; ancient sexuality.

Supervisors: Prof Eric Csapo and Prof Peter Wilson

Sheira Cohen

Space, directionality and movement in Republican Latin (working title)
While ancient conceptions of space are extensively studied from archaeological and literary perspectives, the issue is rarely approached via language structure and usage. Yet the fundamental influence language has in shaping our spatial perceptions is widely recognised in cognitive science and has the potential to offer much to our understanding of ancient Roman space. The theories and methods of cognitive linguistics highlight how language structure and usage privileges different spatial information, indicating a higher degree of cultural import for certain spatial categories. By applying these techniques in an analysis of Republican Latin usage and vocabulary, interesting conclusions can be drawn about how spatial relationships were perceived and communicated and their interaction with directionality and systems of orientation.

My thesis examines the spatial thought-landscape of Republican Rome through the application of this theoretical framework to Latin literature and language use. The plays of Plautus and Terence, in addition to the fragmentary sources, provide a wealth of spatial terms and references, and are therefore an ideal starting place for discussion of the relationship between Latin language and Roman spatial cognition. Directionality in Republican Latin allows a fascinating insight into the mental map of the Romans at a formative stage of their culture and thought.

Research Interests: ancient approaches to space and landscape, landscape archaeology, early Roman and Italian history and archaeology, ethnicity and social structure

Supervisors: Associate Prof Kathryn Welch; Dr Bob Cowan

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



Michelle Borg
Michelle Borg

Pliny the Younger and the Senatorial Opposition to Domitian (2014)
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.

  • "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).

Kit Morrell
Kit Morrell

Cato and the Governance of the Mediterranean World (2014)
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’.

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