Dr Jessica Lightfoot

Dr Jessica Lightfoot

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Lecturer in Greek Literature

Contact details

Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My work focuses on Greek and Roman literature and cultural history. I have particular interests in the literary and scientific cultures of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, the cultural history of the Hellenistic world, and ancient poetics.  


  • DPhil Classical Languages and Literature, University of Oxford 
  • MPhil Classics, University of Cambridge 
  • BA Classics, University of Cambridge


I was appointed to my post at Birmingham in 2020 and began teaching here in 2022, after holding a Junior Research (Title A) Fellowship at Trinity College, University of Cambridge (2018-2022). Before arriving in Birmingham I was a Lecturer at Magdalen College, University of Oxford (2015-2017) and a College Lecturer and Director of Studies at Newnham College, University of Cambridge (2019-2020).


Courses I have taught include: 

  • Greek Mythology 
  • Travellers’ Tales
  • Greek World
  • Euripides
  • Rethinking the Ancient World: Mythology and Identity (lectures on Roman literature and culture)
  • Greek language

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to supervise doctoral students in a wide range of areas related to Greek literature and cultural history. Please email me at j.l.lightfoot@bham.ac.uk to talk further if you are interested in working with me.

Find out more - our PhD Classics and Ancient History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


I have published on a broad range of areas related to Greek and Roman literature and cultural history. My first book, Wonder and the Marvellous from Homer to the Hellenistic World (2021, Cambridge University Press), is the first full-length examination of the significance of the concept of wonder in the ancient Greek world. Wonder and the Marvellous is open access and available to download from the Cambridge Core website.

My second book, Strabo, is forthcoming in Bloomsbury’s Understanding Classics series in 2024. It provides a new examination of the Augustan geographer Strabo of Amasia and explores his significance and impact in antiquity and beyond.  

My current research focuses on various facets of the ancient scientific tradition and focuses in particular on the fields of paradoxography, geography, zoology, medicine and astronomy. I am currently leading an international project on ancient astronomy (the Ourania Network for Astronomical Cultures in the Ancient and Premodern World) with Professor Karen ní Mheallaigh (Johns Hopkins University). I am also interested in early Graeco-Roman cultural interactions in antiquity: here's a blog post on a recent article I have published on this subject.


Recent publications


Lightfoot, J 2021, Wonder and the Marvellous from Homer to the Hellenistic World. Cambridge Classical Studies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009003551


Lightfoot, J 2023, 'Astronomical Imagery in Two Epigrams Ascribed to Germanicus Caesar (Anthologia Palatina 9.17 and 9.18)', Mnemosyne. https://doi.org/10.1163/1568525x-bja10153

Lightfoot, J 2023, 'Penelope the hetaira: Odyssean innuendo in Strabo’s account of Corinth (Geography 8.6.20)', The Classical Quarterly.

Lightfoot, J 2022, 'Circe’s Etruscan Pharmaka: reconsidering a fragment of Aeschylean elegy (fr. 2 West)', The Classical Quarterly, pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0009838822000258

Lightfoot, J & Agocs, P 2022, 'Ovid and Petronius’ Pyramus and Thisbe (Satyricon 131.8-11 and Metamorphoses 4.55-166)', Mnemosyne.

Lightfoot, J 2020, '"Not enduring the wanderings of odysseus": Poetry, prose, and patronage in pseudo-scymnus's periodos to nicomedes', Transactions of the American Philological Association. https://doi.org/10.1353/apa.2020.0015

Lightfoot, J 2020, 'Tacitus' Germania and the Limits of Fantastic Geography', Histos.

Lightfoot, J 2019, 'Something to do with dionysus? Dolphins and dithyramb in pindar fragment 236 SM', Classical Philology. https://doi.org/10.1086/703823

Lightfoot, J 2019, 'Textual wanderings: Homeric scholarship and the written landscape of Strabo's geography', The American Journal of Philology. https://doi.org/10.1353/ajp.2019.0041

Lightfoot, J 2017, 'Hipparchus’ didactic journey: Poetry, prose, and catalogue form in the commentary on aratus and eudoxus', Greek, Roman and Byzantine studies.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Lightfoot, J 2019, Galen’s Language of Wonder: Thauma, Medicine and Philosophy in On Prognosis and On Affected Parts. in Medicine and Paradoxography in the Ancient World. De Gruyter.

View all publications in research portal