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Professor of Greek, University of St Andrews

One of the main goals of my work has been to broaden our understanding of the Greek literature and culture of the Roman empire. My work on ancient athletic culture sets literary texts against the background of ancient festivals and gymnasium education. My publications on ancient athletics include Athletics and Literature in the Roman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Greek Athletics (Edinburgh University Press, 2010). My 'Ancient and Modern Olympics' blog, written for the London Olympics in 2012, is available at

My 2012 monograph Saints and Symposiasts brings Greco-Roman and early Christian literature of the Roman Empire into dialogue. A related series of publications aims to take a fresh look at ancient scientific, encyclopaedic and miscellanistic writing. I have recently finished directing a Leverhulme-funded project in St Andrews (together with Greg Woolf) on 'Science and Empire in the Roman World'.

My other other main current project is a book on mountains in ancient literature and culture. There has been an enormous expansion of interest in mountains in modern European literature and culture in recent decades, but classical landscape tends to get only a very cursory role in that work. My aim is to draw out something of the complexity of ancient engagement with mountainous landscape in both literature and lived experience, and to give fresh attention to the neglected influence of Greek and Roman precedents in the development of modern representations of mountainous landscape in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


  • –present
    Professor of Greek, University of St Andrews