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Department of Classics and Ancient History

History, literature and languages of the ancient Mediterranean
In our dynamic area of study, new discoveries and new interpretations are constantly changing our understanding of the ancient world.

We explore the history, myths, art, archaeology, philosophy, languages, literature and personalities of ancient civilisations, teaching diverse topics from Roman law and emperors to Greek religion and democracy. 

As one of the largest departments of Classics and Ancient History in the Australasian region, we are home to academics and researchers who are leaders in their fields, with some being awarded Faculty Teaching Awards in recognition of their high-quality teaching. 

We also have close ties with the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum, which houses a large collection of artefacts from the ancient world. The museum is regularly used as a teaching space. 

Our study offering

Ancient Greek allows you to read, in the original, works of immense cultural and literary significance by the great writers of the ancient Mediterranean world. The study of philosophy, history, drama, lyric, epic, the novel, and oratory begins in Greece, and Greek contributions to world literature are undisputed models of perfection in every later age.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Embark on a captivating discovery of the Ancient Greek and Roman civilisations through the evidence of myths, images, inscriptions, artefacts, written history and literature. Experience the interplay between the past and the present through a re-examination of the classical world and learn to appreciate its historical and cultural importance.

Undergraduate

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

You will learn to read works of immense cultural and literary significance by the iconic writers of ancient Rome. Latin is the direct ancestor of nearly 50 modern languages and a major contributor to the vocabulary of many others, including English. It was also the language of European literature, history, science, medicine, diplomacy and law for nearly 2000 years. Studying Latin opens up intellectual vistas vital for exploring the past or navigating the present.

Undergraduate  

*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  

Our research

Our department includes the Ancient North Africa Research Network, an initiative for academics and students interested in the North Africa region and its role in the ancient Mediterranean world to connect, conduct research and share knowledge. 

Our researchers also participate in research projects and collaborations with other disciplines, including: 

Research centres

Our people

  • Anthony Alexander 
  • Peter Brennan
  • Peter Brown
  • Dr LM.J Coulson 
  • Dr Brian Croke
  • Dr Mary Jane Cuyler
  • Alan Dearn
  • Dr Robert Harper
  • Dr Andrew Hartwig
  • Dr Geraldine Herbert-Brown
  • Associate Professor Dexter Hoyos
  • Dr Estelle Lazer
  • Dr Christopher Malone
  • Dr Kit Morrell
  • Frances Muecke
  • Anthony Natoli
  • Dr Tamara Neal
  • Dr Elodie Paillard
  • Dr Andrew Pettinger
  • Roger Pitcher
  • Dr Louise Pryke
  • Professor Harold Tarrant
  • Dr John Tidmarsh
  • Michael Turner
  • Associate Professor Lindsay Watson
  • Dr Patricia Watson
  • Dr Noel Weeks PhD Brandeis 
  • John Whitehouse

Seminars and Events

The Department of Classics and Ancient History in collaboration with the Australasian Society for Classical Studies invites you to a one-day workshop on the life and career of Marcus Antonius.

This workshop brings together colleagues whose current research focuses on the life and career of Marcus Antonius.

The day will comprise a series of six talks (with plenty of time for discussion) that throw more light on a significant historical figure without the usual practice of seeing him in relation to a series of famous Romans, such as Julius Caesar, Cicero, the younger Caesar (later Augustus), or his famous consort, Cleopatra.

10:00am - 4:30pm, Tuesday 15 January 2019

Click here for more information and to register

Papers are usually held in the Conference Room of the Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia, which is located on the first floor of the Madsen Building on Eastern Avenue (at the City Road end) at the University of Sydney Camperdown/Darlington campus. 

Papers are followed by light refreshments. For any further information, please contact Tamara Neal.

Lectures are free and all are welcome.

The Todd Memorial Lecture commemorates the life and work of Professor Frederick Augustus Todd, former Professor of Latin and Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1930 to 1937. The lecture is delivered by a distinguished classical scholar with an international reputation.

The series is sponsored by the University of Sydney's School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry in conjunction with the Department of Classics and Ancient History and the Classical Association of NSW.

2018

Pushing genre boundaries: expanded epigram in Horace and Propertius

Both Horatian lyric and Propertian elegy are medium-length forms which fall between the characteristic brevity of epigram and longer forms such as hexameter genres and drama. Expansion of the short form of epigram is thus a natural strategy for both poets, especially as both evidently participate and share in the Augustan penchant for ‘generic enrichment’ in which existing poetic genres are enlarged and enriched through the experimental use of elements which obviously belong to other genres. 

  • Friday 19 October, 5-7.30pm
  • Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia (CCANESA), Madsen Building F09, Eastern Avenue
  • Find out more

2017

Distinguished classical scholar Professor Greg Woolf from the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of London delivered a lecture titled 'How Cosmopolitan was Imperial Rome?'

Established in 2008 and held every two years, the William Ritchie Memorial Lecture invites a leading scholar of Hellenic antiquity to visit the University of Sydney every two years to deliver a public lecture in memory of the life and work of the late William Ritchie.

Bill Ritchie was a devoted teacher and scholar of Classical Greek at the University of Sydney from 1955 until his death in July 2004. He was Professor of Classical Greek from 1965 to 1991.

July 2018

Professor Simon Goldhill from Cambridge University presented 'Antigone and the Autocrats'.

We are proud of our longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship with colleagues teaching ancient history and classical languages in NSW schools. 

To celebrate the work of these teachers and to nurture future teachers in our discipline, we host our annual networking event, Tea for Teachers.

We also welcome students in the department who are interested in becoming ancient history teachers, so they can meet experienced teachers.

The event is usually held in September each year. 

For more information, please email Dr Eleanor Cowan.

2017

This event concentrated on teaching ancient history in high school. Staff in the Department of Classics and Ancient History heard from teachers about how we, as a department, can better serve and support secondary teaching.

Department Chair

Associate Professor Kathryn Welch

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