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Dr. Francesca Modini

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Tel: +44 (0)2476 528493
Email: francesca dot modini at warwick dot ac dot uk

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FAB 2.09
Faculty of Arts Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL


Francesca Modini joined the Classics and Ancient History department at Warwick in 2021, where is currently working on her postdoctoral project (‘Soundtracks of Identity: The Politics of Music in Roman Greece’), jointly funded by the University of Warwick and the Leverhulme Trust. She was previously Teaching Associate in Classics at the University of Bristol (2020). After her BA in Milan (2012), she studied for her MA at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa (2014) and then moved to London, where she got her PhD from King’s College (2019).


I am interested in ancient lyric poetry and musical culture, as well as in the multifaceted production of Greek writers from the imperial period all the way down to Late Antiquity. My doctoral research has encompassed the relationship between verse and prose, issues of cultural self-fashioning and construction of the past, and the impact of Roman imperialism on Greek identity performance. In my first monograph (forthcoming for CUP), I have combined these research strands to offer the first study of the reception and appropriation of archaic and classical poetry by authors of the so-called Second Sophistic. As a genre deeply involved in role-playing and the construction of literary personas, the use of lyric offered itself as a brilliant and sophisticated strategy of self-presentation for sophists, whose status depended on the public performance of Hellenism. Lyric tradition also mobilised political and social discourses (e.g. tyranny, oligarchic regimes, patronage) which took on new and problematic meanings under Rome.

During my postdoctoral fellowship, I have broaden my horizons to focus on the significance of music, and sound more generally, in the definition and representation of gender, social and ethnic identities under Rome. My new book project ('Soundscapes of Ancient Fiction: Gender, Diversity, Ecology and Sound in Imperial Novels') explores the role of sounds – not just music or ‘musicking’ but voices, noises and other sonic elements – in the construction of fictional worlds by imperial Greek and Latin novelists. My argument is that turning our attention to the ways in which these authors represent sonic phenomena and sonic agency throws new light on how they conceptualised the interactions a) between male and female; b) between different social and ethnic groups; and c) between human and non-human. This exploration will transform our understanding of both the ancient novel and the socio-cultural environment in which it developed and thrived. Investigating the sonic dimension of the novel, however, will also activate a new reception link with modern opera, whose narratives were often modelled on those of imperial fiction, and where gender agency and the representation of diversity are core to operatic soundscapes.

Selected publications

  • (Under contract and forthcoming) Empire Of Song: Aelius Aristides and the Poetics of Lyric in Imperial Greek Culture. Monograph for the series ‘Greek Culture in the Roman World,’ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • (In preparation) ‘The Greece of old is no more: Aristides’ lyric lament over Eleusis’.
  • (Accepted and forthcoming) ‘Soundtracks of Milesian Identity: Timotheus and imperial musicians from Miletus’. Greek and Roman Musical Studies.
  • (Accepted and forthcoming) ‘Romancing festivals: festival sounds and other senses in the novels’, in E. Bakola, X. Buxton, E. Csapo and Z. Newby (eds.), The Experience of Ancient Festivals. 
  • (2022) ‘Lyric in the Second Degree: Archaic and Early Classical Poetry in Himerius of Athens.’ CQ. Link here. [Open Access]Link opens in a new window
  • (2019) ‘Playing with Terpander & Co.: Lyric, Music, and Politics in Aelius Aristides’ To the Rhodians on Concord,’ in B. Currie and I. Rutherford (eds.), The Reception of Greek Lyric Poetry in the Ancient World: Transmission, Canonization and Paratext. Leiden: Brill. 417–38. Link here.

  • (2019) ‘The Cyclops’ Revenge: Aelius Aristides on Plato, Philoxenus, and New Music,’ Greek and Roman Musical Studies 7.1. 51–69. Link here.
  • (2018) ‘Fragments of War: Pindar’s Fragmentary Poetry between the Persian Wars and World War II,’ Literary Imagination 20.3. 283–97. Link here.

Blog posts

Teaching and supervision

While maintaining an active research agenda, I'm passionate about teaching and committed to promoting Classics, especially ancient language learning, among students with diverse learning abilities and backgrounds. I'm always happy to be contacted by students who are interested in what I do or who might need extra help with their language learning. In 2022–2023, I was nominated for the Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence (WATE).



  • BA (Università degli Studi di Milano)

  • MA (Scuola Normale Superiore & Università di Pisa)
  • PhD (King’s College London)

Office hours

Currently on maternity leave.