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Greeting from Alison Cooley

2016 proved another busy year for both our staff and students, with a new EU research grant for Clare Rowan’s Token Communities in the Ancient Mediterranean project and the publication of Michael Scott’s latest book Ancient Worlds. As Simon Swain’s investigation into Graeco-Arabic Medicine keeps the Department firmly on the map for cutting edge research, Kevin Butcher’s immensely successful collaboration with the University of Liverpool on Roman Metallurgy enters both its third stage and third decade. The project is now analysing over 2000 coins from the first issues of Septimius Severus in AD 193 to the final issues of Valerian and Gallienus in AD 260.

We have welcomed this year two new permanent members of staff – Emmanuela Bakola, expert in Greek drama, and Victoria Rimell, specialist in Latin literature. We also congratulate departmental prize-winners Joe Grimwade and Thomas Matthews-Boehmer as they go on to pursue funded MPhils at the University of Cambridge, Ghislaine Van der Ploeg and Alexander Peck on successful completion of their PhDs in Roman history, and Desiree Arbo, newly appointed an Early Career Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study.

Alongside these achievements, the Classics Society continues to be a lively outlet for our students’ passion for their subject, impressing year on year with professional and enjoyable renditions of the very best Greek and Roman theatre has to offer. The Department has supported this exciting venture for the past two years, opening up our students’ talent to the general public and primary schools around the Midlands. Last year’s performance of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata welcomed over 550 school students from around the Midlands, who also enjoyed lectures from department members and our IAS Visiting Fellow Alistair Blanchard.

Please accept our warmest invitation to the upcoming production of Sophicle’s Antigone, which promises to be a similarly excellent – if somewhat less comedic – treat for all. With a chance for alumni guests to meet cast and crew, the public performance will take place on 23rd January 2017 and tickets are available online at Warwick Arts Centre.

Our work with primary schools and the wider community doesn’t end with these annual dramas. I have received another year’s funding from the AHRC for Latin Inscriptions in the Ashmolean collaborative project with Oxford University and the Ashmolean Museum. From its conception in 2013, the project has researched and catalogued all the Latin inscriptions in the Museum, a task not undertaken since 1763 when Richard Chandler wrote his Marmora Oxoniensia. Among the new displays we have set up at the Ashmolean – now open to the public – we had great fun last year staging a full Roman funeral procession through the museum. Next year the project will run its first Sutton Scholars Programme for Year 9 students.

school pic

How to swear in Latin: Oxford schoolchildren learn how to launch an insult Roman-style.

We have also been touring primary schools around Oxford to introduce children to the ancient world. The children chose a Roman name and used their new identities to make clay inscriptions, choose Roman jobs and make votives to the gods. Finally they joined the Roman army – learning some Latin commands and making personalised sling bullets with messages for their enemies. Proving a huge success, we are continuing with this venture next year and I would be most happy to hear from any teachers among you who would like to share the wonders of the ancient world with your own young students.

Many thanks to all the staff, students and alumni who have contributed to this newsletter. We would love to hear from more of you, to share memories and photos of your time here and what you are all up to now. Please do get in touch by email to and I look forward to seeing lots of you at Antigone in January!


classicsclassics logoVideos of the play and Professor Blanchard’s lecture our available on our website and our YouTube channel.


Visit the project's Reading, Writing Romans blog to read more.


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