Skip navigation to content

Prof. Stephen Halliwell FBA FRSE

Professor of Greek and Wardlaw Professor of Classics

Phone: 01334 462617

Room: S9

Research profile

Research Interests

  • Greek literature, especially tragedy and comedy.
  • Greek philosophical poetics and aesthetics, especially in Plato, Aristotle and ‘Longinus’.
  • The influence and reinterpretation of Greek texts and ideas in later European culture, including Nietzsche. 

My published research ranges widely across both Greek literature (from Homer to late antiquity) and Greek philosophy (from Plato to Neoplatonism), as well as dealing with the interface between literature and philosophy. I have tried – especially in my books on mimesis, laughter, and Greek poetics – to harness large questions of cultural understanding to the close reading of individual texts. I believe that good research in Classics requires a combination of high linguistic standards with wide intellectual horizons. 

Current Research

  • My main project is a new edition (with introduction, text, and commentary) of ‘Longinus’ On the Sublime. This will appear in the first instance in Italian in the series ‘Scrittori greci e latini’ published by the Fondazione Lorenzo Valla in Milan.
  • I am also working on, or have recently completed, a number of articles/book chapters: topics include citizen encounters in Aristophanes, various aspects of Plato’s writing, Aristotle and literary history, the relationship between Greek and Roman conceptions of criticism, jokes in Greek culture, Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy, and Tolstoy’s aesthetics of opera.

Research students

  • I have supervised research theses on authors including Homer, Aeschylus and the presocratics, Aristophanes, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, Demosthenes, and Heliodorus, as well as on topics such as death and dying in Greek and Roman literature and philosophy, Greek ideas of beauty, Greek conceptions of culpability, Stoic aesthetics, and Leopardi and Greek pessimism.
  • I am interested in supervising research theses (i) in any area of Greek literature, (ii) on topics that combine Greek literature and philosophy, or (iii) on comparative projects dealing with both ancient and modern texts.


For further information on publications, please view my profile on the university's research portal.


  • I have taught extensively on the School’s Greek and Classical studies programmes at both Subhonours and Honours level, including Honours modules on presocratic philosophy, representations of the symposium (in both poetry and prose), Greek comedy, Greek tragedy, and Greek literary criticism.
  • I have taught regularly on the M.Litt. Classics core module (including seminars on ancient aesthetics and on Nietzsche and the Greeks) and have offered individual M.Litt. options on (e.g.) ancient literary criticism, Greek aesthetics, and Greek theatre practice.


I was an undergraduate and graduate student at Oxford, where I wrote my doctoral thesis on Aristophanes under the supervision of Sir Kenneth Dover. I have held teaching positions at the universities of Oxford, London, Cambridge (where I was a Fellow of Corpus Christi College) and Birmingham, as well as six visiting professorships (at Chicago, UC Riverside, Rome, McMaster, Louvain and Cornell). I have always attached value to promoting the internationalism of Classics and have given some 200 invited lectures, including numerous keynotes and named lectures, in nineteen countries. My work has been translated into seven languages.

book cover

Find the School on