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Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Barbara Graziosi

IAS Fellow, Durham University (October - December 2010)

Professor Barbara Graziosi is a classicist and cultural historian. Her research focuses on ancient Greek literature and its readers - both ancient and modern. Her first book, Inventing Homer (Cambridge 2002) argues that early representations of Homer tell us something important about the way archaic and classical audiences imagined the poet and understood his poetry. Her second book, Homer: The Resonance of Epic (London 2005), written together with Johannes Haubold, explores the relationship between Homeric epic and wider Greek views about the cosmos and its history. Again with Johannes Haubold, she has written a commentary on Iliad 6 (Cambridge 2011), which explores the last encounter between Hector and his wife Andromache, and what it reveals about marriage and war. She has also edited two volumes: Homer in the 20th Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon (Oxford 2007), with Emily Greenwood, and The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies, edited with George Boys-Stones and Phiroze Vasunia (Oxford 2009).

The connections between ancient literature and its many readers from different times and places are also important to her 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. She is a regular broadcaster for BBC arts programmes, and reviews for The London Review of Books and The Times Higher Education Supplement.

After a BA and MSt from Oxford and a PhD from Cambridge, she was a Junior Research Fellow at New College Oxford, before joining the Department of Classics and Ancient History in Durham. She held a Summer Fellowship at the Center for Hellenic Studies (Harvard University) in 2005, and will return to the Center in 2011, as a Fellow in Greek religion and its reception.

Her next major project is a history of the Olympian Gods (for Profile Books and Metropolitan/Holt) which traces the transformation of these iconic figures from recipients of cult to symbols of human creativity. During her time as an IAS Fellow she plans to study the connections between prophecy and poetry, with particular reference to Homer's Iliad.

Professor Barbara Graziosi Publications

Graziosi, B. (2013) The Gods of Olympus: A History. London: Profile.

Graziosi, B. (2013) 'The poet in the Iliad' in Hill, J. & Marmodoro, A (eds.) he author's voice in classical and late antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 9-38.

IAS Insights Paper


The Iliad promises to grant ‘imperishable fame' to the heroes who fought at Troy and, with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the poem has (so far) succeeded in its aim: Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon and Odysseus are global household names, and those who died at Troy are remembered through successive editions of the Iliad, a poem that has never gone out of print. This paper investigates the relationship between the future as configured within the Iliad and the actual future of the Iliad, i.e., from our perspective, the history of its reception. Its primary aim is to shed light on three issues in the field of Homeric studies, and of literary criticism more generally: (1) the Homeric Question and the problem of allusion; (2) conceptions of time and authorial intention; (3) the making of a classic, understood here as the cooperation between a text and successive generations of readers. Beyond the field of literary studies, the argument offered in this paper bears on a larger social question: the degree to which care for the future is shaped by the concerns of the past. The Iliad featured continuously in education for over 2,600 years: this is a surprising degree of continuity, which is not the necessary consequence of qualities intrinsic to the text, for those are always subject to judgement. The success of the Iliad depends, rather, on the choices made by over 100 generations of listeners and readers. The interaction between the contents of the Iliad (the future as configured within the poem) and the responses of its listeners and readers (the successive generations who debated the desirability of continuity and change) is at the heart of the exploration in this paper.

Insights Paper