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Durham University

Department of Classics and Ancient History


Prof. Barbara Graziosi

Contact Prof. Barbara Graziosi (email at


What interests me is ancient Greek literature, and the way in which readers make it their own - 'the balance between the classical and the familiar', as Cesare Pavese put it. In my first book, Inventing Homer (Cambridge 2002), I argued that early stories about Homer tell us something important about the way archaic and classical audiences imagined the poet and understood his poetry. My second book, written together with Johannes Haubold, explores the relationship between Homeric epic and wider Greek views about the cosmos and its history. After Homer: The Resonance of Epic (London 2005), I wrote a commentary on Iliad 6 for the Cambridge 'Green and Yellow' series, again with Johannes Haubold: Iliad 6: A Commentary (Cambridge 2010). I have also edited two volumes: Homer in the 20th Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon (Oxford 2007), with Emily Greenwood, explores the place of Homer in the literary landscape of the twentieth century; The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies, edited with George Boys-Stones and Phiroze Vasunia (Oxford 2009), was my attempt at getting a panoramic view of the field of Hellenic Studies.

My most recent book is The Gods of Olympus: A History (London, 2013), which was shortlisted for the Criticos prize. Translations into seven languages are published or under contract. It traces the travels and transformations of the Olympian gods from antiquity to the Renaissance, exploring how they evolved from deities to symbols of the human imagination.

My current research focuses on a major project funded by the European Research Council and entitled Living Poets: A New Approach to Ancient Poetry. More information about the project, the team I direct, and the aims we have can be found here. The programme for Optical Character Recognition of Ancient Greek, developed as part of that project, has major practical applications: a 'Proof of Concept' grant, also awarded by the European Research Council, funds further development of OCR for early modern books printed in Latin, which will in due course enable libraries to turn early books into fully searchable digital texts.

The Living Poets project has inspired an exhibition on Palace Green, Durham, entitled On Seeing the Author: Portraits in Libraries, and scheduled for January-April 2015. It traces the history of portraits in libraries from antiquity to the present, and focuses in particular on those commissioned by John Cosin (1594 – 1672), for his library on Palace Green. Letters reveal that Cosin was shocked when he saw the portraits of ancient authors he had commissioned, complaining that they looked like Muslims. The exhibition explores the thrill, and also the possible disappointment, of seeing the author, and presents the library as a place that enables face-to-face encounters with ancient authors.

The connections between ancient literature and its readers from different times and places are also important to my teaching and outreach. A Durham Excellence in Teaching Award and a National Teaching Fellowship funded projects that linked academic research, undegraduate teaching, and work in the local community - particularly primary and secondary schools in some of the most deprived areas of the United Kingdom. I am now collaborating with Changeling Productions, a theatre company interested - like me - in exploring how the Lives of the ancient poets were used, and can be used, to articulate the connections between ancient literature and lived experience.

I am keen to supervise doctoral students working on ancient Greek literature and its reception, and hold a Durham University Excellence in Doctoral Supervision Award.

As well as selected academic publications below, I review for the Times Higher Education, The London Review of Books, and The Times Literary Supplement.

Current PhD students

Craig Hannaway: Translations of the Self: A. E. Housman and Anne Carson Between Scholarship and Creativity

Francesca Richards: Homer's Odyssey in Childrens' Literature

Catherine Goode: Genealogical History and Characterisation in Early Hexameter Poetry

William Wallis: Looking at Portraits, Reading Biographies: The Relationship between Lives and Images of the Ancient Poets

Erika Taretto: Poets and Places of the Hellenistic Age

Guy Barrett: Speech Analysis and Characterisation in Homer



Authored book

Edited book

Chapter in book

  • Graziosi, Barbara (2016). Theologies of the family in Homer and Hesiod. In Theologies of Ancient Greek Religion. Eidinow, Esther, Kindt, Julia & Osborne, Robin Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 35-61.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2014). Vivere da poeti. In L'esilio della bellezza. Camerotto, A. & Pontani, F. Mimesis. 125-38.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2013). 'The poet in the Iliad'. In The author's voice in classical and late antiquity. Hill, J. & Marmodoro, A. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 9-38.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2010). 'Hesiod in Classical Athens: Orators and Platonic Discourse'. In Plato and Hesiod. Boys-Stones, G. & Haubold, J. H. Oxford: 111-132.
  • Graziosi, B. (2009). 'Commentaries'. In The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 788-801.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2009). 'Horace, Suetonius and the Lives of the Greek Poets'. In Perceptions of Horace: A Roman Poet and His Readers. Houghton, L. & Wyke, M. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 140-160.
  • Graziosi, Barbara & Haubold, Johannes (2007). 'Greek Lyric and Early Greek Literary History'. In The Cambridge Companion to Greek Lyric Poetry. Budelmann, F. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 95-113.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2007). 'Homer in Albania: the geography of literature'. In Homer in the Twentieth Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon. Graziosi, Barbara & Greenwood, Emily Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2007). 'The ancient reception of Homer'. In The Blackwell Companion to Classical Receptions. Hardwick, L. & Stray, C. Oxford:
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2006). 'L'autore e l'opera nella tradizione biografica greca'. In L'autore e l'opera nella Grecia antica. Lanza, D. & Roscalla, F. Pavia:
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2004). 'Homer: Die Erfindung des Autors'. In Mythen Europas: Schluesselfigurern der Imagination. Hartmann, A. & Neumann, M. Regensburg: Pusted Verlag. 44-65.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2004). 'La definizione dell'opera omerica nel periodo arcaico e classico'. In Momenti della ricezione omerica: poesia arcaica e teatro. Zanetto, G., Canavero, D., Capra, A. & Sgobbi, A. Milan: Cisalpino. 2-17.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2001). 'Competition in Wisdom'. In Homer, tagedy and beyond essays in honour of P.E. Easterling. Budelmann, F. & Michelakis, P. London: Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies. 57-74.

Journal Article

  • Graziosi, Barbara & Haubold, Johannes (2015). 'The Homeric Text'. Ramus 44(1-2): 5-28.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2015). ‘On Seeing the poet: Arabic, Italian and Byzantine portraits of Homer’. Scandinavian Journal of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 1: 25-47.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2014). ‘Homer: from reception to composition’. Letras Clássicas 14: 21-33.
  • Graziosi, Barbara & Duffy, Carol Ann (2005). Homeric encounters. Omnibus 6-8.
  • Graziosi, Barbara & Haubold, Johannes (2003). 'Homeric Masculinity: ΗΝΟΡΕΗ and ΑΓΗΝΟΡΙΗ'. Journal of Hellenic Studies 123: 60-76.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2002). Gods and poets in the Odyssey. Omnibus 43: 4-6.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2001). Homer, espionage and Albanian complexities. Omnibus 41: 6.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2001). P.Oxy.4569. 'Demosthenes XIX 1-7, 9-13, 208-22, 309-10, 314-15'. Papyri of Oxyrhynchus 67: 66-80.
  • Graziosi, Barbara (2001). Per uno studio di Omero tra il sesto e il quarto secolo. Posthomerica 3: 7-22.