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Dr Sian Lewis

Senior Lecturer in Ancient History
Admissions officer

Phone: 01334 462605

Room: S15

Research profile

Research Interests

My research interests encompass classical tyranny, iconography and women's history, and communications in the ancient Greek world. I have recently completed a short study of tyranny in Greece from the seventh to the third centuries BC, and am researching the constitutional background to tyranny, archaic and classical, and the methods through which tyrannical power was exercised. In 2002 I published The Athenian Woman: an iconographic handbook, investigating the representation of women on Athenian pottery, and I also continue to research on the visual presentation of women, real and mythological, and archaeological background to Attic pottery.

Current Research Projects

My current project treats Greek tyranny, a topic which has been significantly under-studied, since the 1950s coming a poor second to democracy as a topic of scholarly interest. I aim to investigate the practicalities of tyrannical rule: how exactly did a Greek tyrant come to power and retain that power? What political or military acts were necessary to claim rulership over a polis and to exercise it? Where did tyrants live, and how was their choice of residence related to their hold over the polis? How much power did the family of a tyrant wield, and through what means? An understanding of these issues will offer us a clearer picture of Greek political life, and of the nature of political power in the classical period.

A conference, Tyrants, Kings, Dynasts and Generals: Modes of Autocracy in the Classical Period, took place in Cardiff in July 2003, bringing together scholars researching tyrants and autocratic rulers of all kinds across the Greek and Roman world, and a second conference on tyranny both archaic and classical is planned for 2010.


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

Research students

I currently supervise two PhD students, one working on gender relationships in Herodotus, and the other social, political and economic structures in Macedonia and Ptolemaic Egypt. Past research students have studied trade and the Athenian economy and the ideology of veiling in archaic and classical Greece. I am very keen to supervise research work on fourth-century Greek topics, and particularly on tyranny.

Academic career

After completing my undergraduate degree and my DPhil at Oxford, I held my first teaching post at Trinity College, Dublin in 1991-2. After a year’s lectureship at St John’s College, Oxford, I went home to Wales as tutorial fellow in Ancient History at the University of Wales Swansea from 1994-6. I then joined Cardiff University in 1996 as lecturer in Greek History. After eight years in Cardiff, I decided to continue my Celtic odyssey and come to teach in Scotland, joining St Andrews in 2004.

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