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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.


The culture of animals in antiquity: a sourcebook with commentaries
Lewis, S. & Llewellyn-Jones, L. 19 Dec 2017 Abingdon; New York: Routledge. 768 p.
Research output: ResearchBook

Tyranny: New Contexts
Lewis, S. Jun 2016 (Accepted/In press) Besancon: Presses universitaires de Franche-Comte, Besancon.
Research output: ResearchBook

Greek Tyranny
Lewis, S. 2009 Bristol Phoenix Press. 148 p. (Greece and Rome Live)
Research output: ResearchBook

The World of Greek Vases
Norskov, V. (ed.), Hannestad, L. (ed.), Isler-Kerenyi, C. (ed.) & Lewis, S. (ed.) 2009 Edizioni Quasar. 245 p. (Analecta Romana Instituti Danesi - Supplementum)
Research output: ResearchBook

Ancient Tyranny
Lewis, S. 2006 Edinburgh University Press. 282 p.
Research output: ResearchBook

The Athenian Woman: An Iconographic Handbook
Lewis, S. 2002 Routledge. 261 p.
Research output: ResearchBook


Power, communication and authority: tyrants and their letters
Lewis, S. Dec 2017 Letters and Communities.: Socio-Political Aspects of Ancient Epistolography.. Gildenhard, I. (ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press
Research output: ResearchChapter

A lifetime together?: Temporal perspectives on animal-human interactions in antiquity
Lewis, S. 2017 Interactions between Animals and Humans in Antiquity. Foegen, T. & Thomas, E. (eds.). Brill
Research output: ResearchChapter

Entries on 'Periander of Corinth', 'Polycrates of Samos', 'Peisistratus', 'Thrasyboulos of Miletus', 'Greek Tyrants' and 'Tyranny'
Lewis, S. Feb 2012 The Encyclopaedia of Ancient History. Bagnall, R. (ed.). Wiley-Blackwell
Research output: ResearchChapter

Entries on 'Tyranny' and 'Tyrannicide'
Lewis, S. 2010 SAGE Encyclopaedia of Ancient Political Thought. Bevir, M. (ed.). Sage
Research output: ResearchChapter

Athletics on Attic Pottery: Export and Imagery
Lewis, S. 2009 The World of Greek Vases. Norskov, V., Hannestad, L., Isler-Kerenyi, C. & Lewis, S. (eds.). Edizioni Quasar, Vol. 41, p. 133-148 (Analecta Romana Instituti Danesi - Supplementum)
Research output: ResearchChapter

Iconography and the Study of Gender
Lewis, S. 2006 Images and Gender: Contributions to the Hermeneutics of Reading Ancient Art. Schroer, S. (ed.). Academic Press Fribourg, p. 23-39
Research output: ResearchChapter

Representation and reception: Athenian pottery in its Italian context.
Lewis, S. 2003 Inhabiting Symbols: symbol and image in the ancient Mediterranean. Wilkins, J. B. & Herring, E. (eds.). Accordia Research Institute. University of London, p. 175-92
Research output: ResearchChapter

Entries on Socrates, Plato, Aristagoras, Phidias, and general entry on Ancient Greece.
Lewis, S. 2002 Censorship: An International Encyclopaedia. Jones, D. (ed.). Fitzroy Dearborn
Research output: ResearchChapter

Tyrants, spies and the general’s dilemma: the ideology of information in classical Greece
Lewis, S. 2001 Information, Media and Power through the Ages (Historical Studies XXII). Morgan, H. (ed.). University College Dublin Press, p. 13-28
Research output: ResearchChapter


‘Tyranny and Response’: Introduction
Lewis, S. 11 Dec 2012 In : Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies. 55, 2, p. 69-71 3 p.
Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Review of: Balot, Greek Political Thought
Lewis, S. 2008 In : Classical Review. 58, p. 199-201 3 p.
Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Review of: Stansbury-O'Donnell, Vase-painting, Gender and Social Identity in Archaic Athens
Lewis, S. 2007 In : Journal of Hellenic Studies. 127, p. 227-228 2 p.
Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Review of: Lavelle, Fame, Power and Money: the rise of Pisistratus and 'democratic' tyranny at Athens.
Lewis, S. 2006 In : Journal of Hellenic Studies. 126, p. 168-169 2 p.
Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Review of: Greek Art in View: essays in honour of Brian Sparkes.
Lewis, S. 2006 In : Classical Review. 56, p. 471-473 3 p.
Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Agathocles: tyranny and kingship in Syracuse
Lewis, S. 2006 In : Electrum: studies in ancient history. 11, p. 45-59
Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

'kai safos tyrannos en': Xenophon's Account of Euphron of Sicyon
Lewis, S. Jan 2004 In : Journal of Hellenic Studies. 124, 1, p. 1-15
Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle


Images of Craft on Athenian Pottery: Context and Interpretation
Lewis, S. 2010 p. 12-26 15 p.
Research output: Research - peer-reviewPaper


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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