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PhD in Classics, University of Nottingham

Thesis: Communicative failure and characterisation in Latin civil war epics

My doctoral project analyses communicative failures in three lengthy Latin poems: Virgil's Aeneid (composed c. 29-19 B.C.E.), Lucan's Bellum Ciuile (c. 62-65 C.E.), and Statius' Thebaid (c. 80-92 C.E.). In the Aeneid, Aeneas escapes from the horrors of the Trojan War only to face another war in Italy as he attempts to found a city for the future Roman people. The Bellum Ciuile describes the historical civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great, particularly the events of 49 to 48 B.C.E., while the Thebaid relates the myth of the war between Polynices and Eteocles, the two sons of Oedipus and Jocasta, for the throne of Thebes. Both of these epics therefore develop the theme of civil war and internal divisions which underlies the second half of the Aeneid.

Although classical scholars have catalogued and categorised the speeches in these poems, the issue of communicative failure (and how this creates a paradigm of problematic heroism, and heroes who show a range of weaknesses) has been particularly neglected. My thesis will analyse the interaction between communication and the experience of civil war, to argue that these epics present warfare as both creating and being created by a failure of communication on personal, political and religious levels.


Supervisors and Institution(s): Prof. Helen Lovatt (University of Nottingham) and Dr Henriette van der Blom (University of Birmingham).

Educational background: My classical education began as an undergraduate at King's College, Cambridge, where I studied both Latin and Ancient Greek ab initio; my work on Latin literature was supervised by Prof. John Henderson and Dr Ingo Gildenhard. I subsequently completed a Master of Studies course in Greek & Latin Languages & Literature at Trinity College, Oxford, working with Dr Peta Fowler, Dr Kalina Allendorf and Prof. Fiona Macintosh, before moving to the University of Nottingham.

Conferences, Presentations & Public Engagement:


  • Vox Populi, Vox Pompei: Addressing the troops in Lucan's Bellum Ciuile 1 and 2 - Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature (AMPAL), University of Leeds (Upcoming - June 2019)
  • Lucan's Pompey and the failure to encourage - Oistroi (PG WiP seminar), Nottingham Dept. of Classics & Archaeology (Upcoming - April 2019)
  • VOCIFERANS: A new method of SPEAKING? - Oistroi (PG WiP seminar), Nottingham Dept. of Classics & Archaeology


  • Primary school Latin classes (Sneinton C of E Primary) - as part of Nottingham Classics Outreach scheme (NoCOut) and UoN Widening Participation: Learning Leaders project
  • Why are men so rubbish in Latin epic? - Oistroi (PG WiP seminar), Nottingham Dept. of Classics & Archaeology
  • Using Evernote to research Latin literature - Postgraduate research methods workshop, Oxford Faculty of Classics

Other research interests: Latin hexameter poetry more broadly; intertextuality; metapoetics; trauma; models of masculinity; Stoicism; reception and translation of Virgil; widening access to Classics.


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