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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Wolfson Fellow

Dr Ivana Petrovic

Contact Dr Ivana Petrovic (email at

Areas of Doctoral Supervision

Ancient Greek literature and Greek religion.


I am a Senior Lecturer in Greek Literature and have a Diploma in Classics from Belgrade University and a Ph.D. in Greek literature from Giessen University. I was a Fellow of Sasakawa Peace Foundation (1999), and a Residential Fellow at the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies (2009/10).

My main research interests are Ancient Greek literature, religion and South-Slavic oral traditional poetry.

My first monograph, "Von den Toren des Hades zu den Hallen des Olymp. Artemiskult bei Theokrit und Kallimachos", was published by Brill Academic Publisher (Mnemosyne Supplements 281).

I have published articles in journals and edited volumes on Ancient Greek poetry, Greek magic and religion, and iconotexts (intermediality) and have co-edited volumes on the relationship between image and text (ebook, Giessen University), on the Roman triumph (Steiner Verlag), and on Greek epigram (Cambridge University Press).

I am also interested in reception and visual culture. My analysis of Oliver Stone's film "Alexander" which focuses on the way the film uses ancient biographies of Alexander the Great (especially Plutarch) and ancient mythology (especially the myths about Dionysus, Prometheus, Heracles, Medea, and Achilles.) has recently been singled out by Oliver Stone. He praised the article as "excellent" on his facebook page and recommended it to tens of thousands of his facebook followers. He also posted a link to the book on his website.

Currently, I am working on two monographs on inner purity in Greek religion together with my colleague (and husband) Andrej Petrovic. The title of our project is "Inner Purity in Ancient Greek Religion: A Manifestation of Belief".

Objective: To investigate what the notion of inner purity can tell us about the nature of Greek religion, and to thus establish the place of belief within Greek religiosity.

Abstract: Was ancient Greek religion really ‘mere ritualism’? Early Christians denounced pagans for the disorderly plurality of their cults, and reduced Greek religion to ritual and idolatry; Protestant theologians condemned the pagan ‘religion of form’ (with Catholicism as its historical heir). ‘Greek religion had little to do with belief, and a great deal to do with practice and observance of … customs’, says one representative scholar in 2010. But we argue that there was also an important place for belief in Greek rituals. We examine the Greek notion of inner purity as a manifestation of such belief and highlight the significance of intrinsic, faith-based elements in Greek religious practices — providing the first comprehensive history of the trope of inner purity in Greek religion. This novel concept of Greek religiosity aims to shift the debate in the scholarship on Greek religion away from the evolutionary model. Since religious language frames philosophical, historical, and anthropological debates, as well as aspects of medical humanities, this project is of import for humanities in general.





Articles: review

Books: authored

Books: edited

Edited works: contributions

  • Petrovic, Ivana (2009). Apollo. In Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Gagarin, M. Oxford et al.: Oxford University Publishers.
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2009). Artemis. In Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Gagarin, M. Oxford et al.: Oxford University Publishers.
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2009). Hymns. In Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Gagarin, M. Oxford et al.: Oxford University Publishers.

Essays in edited volumes

  • Petrovic, Ivana (2014). Posidippus and Achaemenid royal propaganda. In Hellenistic Studies at a Crossroads: Exploring Texts, Contexts and Metatexts. Hunter, Richard, Rengakos, Antonios & Sistakou, Evina Berlin: De Gruyter. 25: 273-300.
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2013). The Never-Ending Stories: A perspective on Greek Hymns. In The Door Ajar: False Closure in Greek and Roman Literature and Art. Grewing, Farouk, Acosta-Hughes, Benjamin & Kirichenko, Alexander Heidelberg: Winter Verlag. 203-227.
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2012). Callimachus' Hymn to Apollo and Greek Metrical Sacred Regulations. In Hellenistica Groningana. Gods and Religion in Hellenistic Poetry, Proceedings of the Ninth Groningen Workshop on Hellenistic poetry. Harder, M.A., Regtuit, R.F. & Wakker, G.C. Leuven et al. Peeters Publishers. 281-306.
  • Petrovic, I. (2012). Dichtung, Reinheit, Opferritual. In Ästhetik des Opfers. Zeichen / Handlungen in Ritual und Spiel. Bierl, T., Honold, A. & Luppi, V. Wilhelm Fink. 107-130.
  • Petrovic, I. (2012). Divine Masters and Human Disciples. The idea of gods as teachers and its development in Greek poetry and philosophy. In Meister und Schueler in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Renger, A.-B. Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht Uni Press. 53-68.
  • Petrovic, I & Muth, S. (2012). Medientheorie als Chance. Überlegungen zur historischen Interpretation von Texten und Bildern. In Ansehenssache. Formen von Prestige in Kulturen des Altertums. Christiansten, B. & Thaler, U. Herbert Utz Verlag. 281-318.
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2012). Rhapsodic Hymns and Epyllia. In Brill’s Companion to Greek and Latin Epyllion and Its Reception. Baumbach, Manuel & Baer, Silvio Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. 149-176.
  • Petrovic, I. (2011). Callimachus and Contemporary Religion: the Hymn to Apollo. In Brill's Companion to Callimachus. Acosta-Hughes, B., Lehnus, L. & Stephens, S. Leiden: Brill. 264-285.
  • Baumbach, Manuel, Petrovic, Andrej & Petrovic, Ivana (2010). Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram: an introduction. In Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram. Baumbach, Manuel, Petrovic, Andrej & Petrovic, Ivana Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1-20.
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2010). The life story of a cult statue as an allegory: Kallimachos’ Hermes Perpheraios. In Divine images and Human imaginations in Ancient Greece and Rome. J. Mylonopoulos Leiden: Brill. 170: 205-224.
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2009). Transforming Artemis: From die Göttin des Draußen to City-Goddess. In The Gods of Ancient Greece: Identities and Transformations. Bremmer, Jan N. & Erskine, Andrew W. Edinburgh et al.:
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2008). Aitiologie des Triumphes. Properz 4.6. In Triplici invectus triumpho – der roemische Triumph in augusteischer Zeit. Krasser, H., Pausch, D. & Petrovic, I. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2007). Plutarch's and Stone's Alexander: fortuna et virtus. In Ancient Greek World in Cinema. Morcillo, M.G. & Berti, I. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.
  • Petrovic, Ivana & Petrovic, Andrej (2006). Look Who is Talking Now!: Speaker and Communication in Metrical Sacred Regulations. In Ritual and Communication in the Graeco-Roman World. Stavrianopoulou, Eftychia Liege: Centre International d'Etude de la Religion Grecque Antique. Kernos Supplément 16: 151-179.
  • Petrovic, Ivana (2004). Artemisfeste und Frauen, Goettliche Didaktik als literarischer Topos. In Studia humanitatis ac litterarum trifolio Heidelbergiensi dedicata, Festschrift für C. Christmann, W. Edelmaier, R. Kettemann. Hornung, A, Jaekel, Ch., Schubert, W. New York: Peter Lang. 144.: 251-270.

Journal papers: academic