Past events


Wednesday 15th January at 5pm in Queens LT1, University of Exeter

Dr Joe Skinner, ‘”Good old Herodotus!” Ethnography, empire, and children’s literature during the long nineteenth century’


Wednesday 2nd October at 4.30pm, Exeter College

Dr Emily Hauser, ‘Finding the Female Voice in the Ancient World’


Wednesday 1st May, 5pm, Exeter College

Matt Bryden, ‘Lost and Found’

Matt Bryden is a poet and teacher living in Somerset. In 2018, he won a Literature Matters award from the Royal Society of Literature for his project Lost and Found. This project aims to create a pamphlet of poems treating the Lost Property Office at Bristol Temple Meads station as an entrance to the Greek Underworld. For the last year, Matt has been visiting the Lost Property Office on a monthly basis and making notes while, in tandem, attending Classics lectures at Exeter University with a view to creating a backdrop for his new work. Matt will be discussing his experience as a poet in residence at the office, sharing what he has learned from his research as well as reading from the poems for the first time. For more information about Lost and Found, click here.


Wednesday 20th March, 5pm, Exeter College

Prof. Greg Woolf (Institute of Classical Studies), ‘Alien Metropolis. Migration, Rome and the limits of cosmopolitanism’


Thursday 17th January, 5pm, Exeter College

Máirín O’Hagan (Barefaced Greek Productions), ‘Barefaced Greek’

Screening of 4 short films + Q&A with Máirín O’Hagan, actor and producer.

Barefaced Greek makes fresh, new films to celebrate Classical Greek drama in performance. Our accessible shorts use text from Greek drama in the original language. We want to invigorate the online presence of Classical drama for an international audience, and inspire a love of the Greek language for new generations.


Wednesday 12th December, 5pm, Exeter College (in association with the Roman Society)

Dr Kathryn Tempest (University of Roehampton), ‘The Art of Faking it: The Letters of Marcus Brutus and Mithridates’

The writing of fake letters was widely practiced in antiquity. But how and why did the pseudepigrapher go about his work? To answer such a question, this paper focuses on the letters attributed in antiquity to Marcus Brutus, all of which purport to come from the period 43-42 BC, when the Liberators were preparing for war against the joint forces of Mark Antony and Octavian. In this connection, attention will be paid to the Greek letters of Brutus: a collection of seventy short letters, thirty-five of them allegedly written by the tyrannicide, as he issued demands for resources in the province of Asia and within Lycia. Although they were admired in antiquity for their brevity and forcefulness, modern discussions have focused instead on issues of authenticity and authorship. Erasmus first doubted Brutus’ authorship of the Greek letters in 1520 (see Achelis 1917/18); this speculation was further fuelled by the celebrated dissertation of Bentley (1697), who illuminated the authorial practice of impersonating great figures from antiquity. Although Bentley was concerned with the letters of Phalaris, and not Brutus, the implications of his findings were vast. While some scholars have defended the attribution of the letters to Brutus (Rühl 1915; Goukowsky 2011; Jones 2015), historical errors and inconsistencies have led others to dismiss the collection as a forgery, either in full (Marcks 1883; Rawson 1986; Moles 1997) or in part (Westermann 1851; Smith 1936; Torraco 1959).

It is perhaps unfortunate that previous scholarship has focused almost exclusively on the question of Brutus’ real or feigned authorship; that is, on one half of the collection only. For, as I discuss in this paper, an introductory letter written by the compiler of the collection – an otherwise unidentified Mithridates – explains that he personally composed the other thirty-five letters as imaginary responses, because his nephew had wanted to know how the cities might have replied to Brutus’ repeated demands for money and military support. This explanation of the collection’s didactic function, I argue, coupled with a close examination of the contents of the letters does much to reveal their interest in rhetorical argumentation, and especially the dilemma form. But the cover letter of Mithridates also does something more than that; in reflecting on the art of composing his replies, the author takes his reader into the world of the fake letter writer, where he presents his work as both a scholar and a creative artist.


Wednesday 17th October, 5pm, Exeter College (in association with the Hellenic Society)

Prof. James Robson (Open University), ‘Beauty, Sexuality and Desire in Classical Athens’

The art and literature of classical Athens provide plenty of rich material for scholars of ancient sexuality to explore: from erotic vase painting, to the highly sexualized portrayal of women on the comic stage, to more muted references to everyday attitudes about beauty, sex and desire. In this talk, James Robson will aim to paint a broad picture of what sexiness constituted for Classical Athenians, exploring topics such as physical characteristics, seductive behaviour and how appearance could be enhanced by clothing or personal grooming. While touching on topics such as sexual attraction, fantasy and taboo, this talk will take a risqué peek into the private bedrooms, whorehouses, drinking parties, wrestling schools and gymnasia of classical Athens in an attempt to add to our understanding of this culture’s often complex relationship with sex and sexual acts.


Wednesday 2 May, 5.00pm, Exeter College. In association with the Roman Society.

Dr Jonathan Prag (University of Oxford) Rams and Warships: bronze rostra from the final battle of the First Punic War’

This paper will present the spectacular finds from the underwater survey being undertaken off western Sicily by the Soprintendenza del Mare of Sicily. Principal among these is the very rare find of 12 bronze rams from warships which sank during the final battle of the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage, in 241 BC. At least 8 of the rams are inscribed (7 Latin, 1 Punic) and the rams and their inscriptions not only provide new information on warships and institutions in the period, but also create significant problems for our current understanding of naval warfare at this date.


Wednesday 21 March, 5.00pm, Exeter College

Prof. Patrick Finglass (University of Bristol) ‘A new papyrus of Sophocles’

Abstract: Sophocles fr. 583, from his Tereus, is one of the most moving passages of extant Greek tragedy; delivered by Procne, it explores the sorrow of marriage as seen from a woman’s perspective. The publication in June 2016 of an ancient papyrus manuscript from the early second century, P.Oxy. 5292, which overlaps with this quotation, is therefore a major event in Sophoclean scholarship. The papyrus allows us to locate Procne’s speech within the play, to infer how much she knows about her sister’s fate when she speaks the lines, and to see how Sophocles prepared for the dramatic meeting between the two sisters. This paper demonstrates how the papyrus transforms our knowledge of this fragmentary drama, and sets the play alongside others that feature unhappily married women, bringing out relevant similarities and differences, and thereby assisting our understanding of the presentation of women in Greek tragedy.


Wednesday 10 January, 5.00pm, Exeter College. In association with the Hellenic Society.

Prof. Helen Lovatt (University of Nottingham) Argonauts: Myth and Reception’

Abstract: The myth of Jason and the Argonauts has been told and retold since its very beginnings. It was already a well known story before the Odyssey. But when does a myth cease to function as  myth and become crystallised by its most famous versions? For the tale of the Argonauts, the versions of Apollonius and Euripides’ Medea are crucial. This paper explores the interface between myth and reception in the Argonautic tradition by looking at a number of case studies: Charles Kingsley and the Orphic Argonautica, Robert Graves and his Greek Myths, and the influence of the 1963 Harryhausen movie ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ on recent children’s literature.


Wednesday 6 December, 5.00pm, Exeter College

Dr Emma Cole (University of Bristol) Greek Tragedy and the Australian Psyche’

The reception of Greek tragedy in Australia largely mimicked its reception in England until the mid-twentieth century. The establishment of state theatre companies and the New Wave Theatre movement in the second half of the twentieth century, however, resulted in a series of more localised engagements, and today Australian classical performance receptions are frequently more playful and experimental than their British counterparts. Adaptations now trump translations, and radical reinventions which use the classics as a springboard for entirely new plays are more common than either. Recent productions, for example, have involved Euripides’ prize-winning Bacchae set in a urinal, a chorus of Trojan women murdered, a gender-bending Antigone, and an Iphigenia at Aulis written in a form devoid of named characters and staged without an Iphigenia present on stage at all. In this lecture I discuss a series of these receptions and both suggest and problematise ways that these engagements reflect the Australian psyche. I argue that today’s ‘gloves-off’ attitude towards the classics is tied to Australia’s complex colonial history and involves an intense localising of Greek tragedy to explore issues of national identity. The plays under discussion indicate that Australian productions of Greek tragedy are an overlooked part of contemporary classical performance reception, and that the classics today are being reclaimed and refashioned to explore pressing socio-political issues in twenty-first-century Australia.


Thursday 28 September 5.00pm, Exeter College

Prof. Rebecca Langlands (University of Exeter) ‘No-Win Situations: Roman Heroes and Military Ethics’

Abstract: The heroic, blood-soaked tales of their ancestors intoxicated the youth of ancient Rome, revealing moral truths and inflaming them with desire for virtue. This lecture will argue that such exemplary stories were also used to dramatise ethical dilemmas and encourage Romans to reflect on fundamental moral issues – indeed, they can still serve this purpose today. Roman exempla tend to show people of great courage, virtue and tenacity who face very tough decisions about the best way to respond. We will see how a particularly distressing military situation – the desperate suffering of the besieged city – provided for the ancient Romans a wealth of ethical material inviting us to reflect on what we should value most highly in our lives.


10 May 2017

CA Lecture: Dr Charlotte Tupman (University of Exeter) ‘Don’t make me code! Shaping the future of digital Classics research’

29 March 2017

CA Lecture: Prof. Alison Sharrock (University of Manchester) ‘Gender and transformation in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: “optimistic” and “pessimistic” readings’

15 March 2017

CA Lecture: Prof. Chris Kraus (Yale University) ‘Altera Roma: the case of Veii’

2 December 2016

CA Lecture: Dr Karen ní Mheallaigh (University of Exeter) ‘Eye of night: the Moon as a site of optical paradox in antiquity and today’

5 October 2016

CA Lecture: Prof. Neville Morley (University of Exeter) ‘Thucydides and the First World War’


27th April 2016

CA Lecture: Prof. Matthew Wright (University of Exeter) ‘The Other Greek Tragedians’

23rd March 2016

CA Lecture: Dr Gabriele Galluzzo (University of Exeter) ‘Virtue and δύναμις: On the Role of Metaphysics in Aristotle’s Ethics’

10th February 2016

CA Lecture (Joint Meeting with the Historical Association): Prof. Elena Isayev (University of Exeter) ‘No Migrants: Mobility in Ancient Italy before Borders’

2nd December 2015

CA Lecture (Joint Meeting with the Roman Society): Prof. Maria Wyke (UCL) ‘Ancient Rome in Silent Cinema.’

30th September 2015

CA Lecture: Prof. Robin Osbourne (University of Cambridge) ‘The Power of Images in Classical Athens’


29th April 2015

CA Lecture: Professor Catherine Edwards (Birkbeck, University of London)

11th February 2015

CA Lecture: Dr Sebastian Matzner (University of Exeter) ‘Forgetting Plato: Classical Alternatives for Theorising Same-Sex Love in 19th-Century Germany’

26 November 2014

CA Lecture (Joint session with the Exeter Historical Association): Dr Ted Kaizer (University of Durham) ‘Ten days in the life of Dura-Europos’

22nd October 2014

CA Lecture: Dr Sharon Marshall (University of Exeter) ‘Feminist Translation and the Classics’


6th May 2014

CA Lecture (Joint Meeting with the Roman Society): Dr Matthew Nicholls ‘Digital Rome’

11th February 2014

CA Lecture (Joint Meeting with the Historical Association): Professor Lynette Mitchell (University of Exeter) ‘The Heroic Rulers of Archaic and Classical Greece’

12 November 2013

CA Lecture (Joint Meeting with the Hellenic Society): Dr Jenny March ‘Homer and the First Great War’

8th October 2013

CA Lecture: Prof. John Wilkins ‘Archestratus of Gela: Seductive meals from Europe’s earliest cookery writer’