Dr Gideon Nisbet MA (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)

Dr Gideon Nisbet

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Reader in Classics

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I teach and research in Greek and Latin literature, particularly epigram and Greek writers in the Roman Empire; ancient books on papyrus; and the reception of classical antiquity in modern culture.


  • BA (Hons) in Literae Humaniores, University of Oxford
  • MA in Classics, University of Oxford
  • DPhil in Greek and Latin Languages and Literature, University of Oxford


I attended Corpus Christi College, Oxford, as an undergraduate and continued into doctoral research, on Greek satirical epigrams of the early centuries AD. A version of my DPhil thesis was subsequently published as Greek Epigram in the Roman Empire: Martial's Forgotten Rivals (Oxford University Press, 2003).

While finishing my doctorate I became a researcher on the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus Project, and I maintain an active interest in ancient book-illustration.

Through my teaching I developed an interest in classical reception, the study of how later cultures represent and lay claim to the ancient past. My particular interest is in reception of classical antiquity in modern popular culture and subcultures, and this formed the subject of my second book, Ancient Greece in Film and Popular Culture (Exeter Press, 2006, 2nd edition 2008).

Since then I have returned to epigram, co-authoring the Greece and Rome New Survey on Epigram (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and contributing to several major edited volumes. My latest academic book, Greek Epigram in Reception (Oxford University Press, 2013) combines my interests in epigram and classical reception study into a new account of how nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain interfaced with the ancient Greek past. I have translated a new selection of Martial’s Epigrams for the World’s Classics series (Oxford University Press, 2015), and am researching in Martial and in the modern reception of the Greek author of satirical essays, Lucian of Samosata.


  • CLC core module: Greek Literature.
  • First-year projects: Martial, Greek Lyric Poetry.
  • Seminars: Pleasures of Rome, ancient epigram, Sappho.
  • Lecture Options: Greece and Rome in Television and Film, The Age of Nero.
  • Greek and Latin language.

Postgraduate supervision

  • Classical reception studies.
  • Ancient epigram.
  • Greek literature, particularly imperial ('Second Sophistic').
  • Translation studies.


My recent research has combined my two main research strands - ancient epigram, and classical reception - in a study of how translators and popularisers in the later nineteenth century came up with ways of talking about Greek epigram that let them redefine ancient Greece as a social ideal for the present day. The outcome of this research was my major monograph for Oxford University Press, Greek Epigram in Reception: J. A. Symonds, Oscar Wilde, and the Invention of Desire (2013). I continue to research in ancient epigram and classical reception, with a current book project on Lucian in reception.

Other activities

I am best known to the world outside academia as the translator of the Latin epigrammatist Martial for the World’s Classics (2015), a translation that was the imprint’s reading-group choice for autumn 2015 and on which I have spoken at Cheltenham Literary Festival. I continue to translate and reflect on Martial on my personal blog, http://lectorstudiosus.blogspot.co.uk/. You will find a playlist of OUP’s video interview with me about Martial here.

I have served as a member of Council for the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, and for the Classical Association of England and Wales. I am a former member of the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, serving on AHRC Research Grants Panel C in 2010 and 2011, and continue to exercise my AHRC expertise as a subject panellist for the M3C doctoral funding competition. I have served as an anonymous referee for numerous academic presses and journals.


  • (2015, in press) 'Sappho in Roman epigram', in S. J. Harrison and T. Thorsen edd., Sappho’s Roman Reception (Tapir).
  • (2015) 'Mecha on Olympus: Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed', in D. Kovacs and C. W. Marshall edd., Son of Classics and Comics (Oxford University Press).
  • (tr.) (2015) Martial: Epigrams (Oxford University Press).
  • (2013) Greek Epigram in Reception (Oxford University Press).
  • (2013) 'Revoicing Imperial Satire', 486-512 in S. Braund and J. Osgood edd., A Companion to Persius and Juvenal (Blackwell).
  • (2013, in press) Greek Epigram in Reception (Oxford University Press).
  • (2013, in press) 'Mecha on Olympus: Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed', in D. Kovacs & C. W. Marshall edd., Son of Classics and Comics (Oxford University Press).
  • (2013, in press) 'Sappho in Roman epigram', in S. J. Harrison & T. Thorsen edd., Sappho’s Roman Reception (Tapir).
  • (2013) 'Revoicing Imperial Satire', 486-512 in S. Braund and J. Osgood edd., A Companion to Persius and Juvenal (Blackwell).
  • (2012) '"Flowers in the Wilderness": Greek epigram in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries' , 73-94 in S. J. Harrison & C. Stray edd., Expurgating the Classics (Bristol Classical Press).
  • (2012) '"This is Cake-Town!": 300 (2006) and the death of allegory’, in S. Hodkinson – I. Macgregor Morris edd., Sparta: Classical Tradition (Classical Press of Wales).
  • (2011) ‘An ancient Greek "graphic novel" (P. Oxy. XXII 2331)’, 27-42 in C. W. Marshall and G. Kovacs edd., Classics and Comics (Oxford University Press).
  • (2010) (with Niall Livingstone) Epigram = Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics 38 (Cambridge University Press).
  • (2010) '"And your father sees you": paternity in Alexander (2004)', 217-32 in B. Carney & D. Ogden edd., Philip II and Alexander the Great: Father and Son, Lives and Afterlives (Oxford University Press).
  • (2009) 'P. Artemid.: the sequence of the fragments', 19-22 in K. Brodersen & J. Elsner edd., Images and Texts on the Artemidorus Papyrus: Working Papers on P. Artemid. (St John's College Oxford, June 2008) (Steiner).
  •  (2009) '"Dickus Maximus": Rome as pornotopia', 150-71 in D. Lowe & K. Shahabudin edd., Classics for All: Reworking Antiquity in Mass Culture (Cambridge Scholars Press).
  •  (2008) Ancient Greece in Film and Popular Culture. Revised and Expanded Edition (Exeter Press).
  •  (2007) 'Sex Lives of the Sophists: epigrams by Philostratus and Fronto', 114-24 in J. Elsner, S. J. Harrison & S. Swain edd., Severan Culture (Cambridge University Press).
  •  (2007) '"That's not funny": Advice in skoptic epigram', 159-77 in D. Spencer & E. Theodorakopoulos edd., Advice and its Rhetoric in Greece and Rome = NCLS 9 (Levante).
  •  (2007) 'Satiric epigram', 353-69 in P. Bing & J. S. Bruss edd., Brill's Companion to Hellenistic Epigram (Brill).
  •  (2007) 'Roman imperial receptions of Hellenistic epigram', 543-63 in Bing & Bruss edd.
  •  (2004) 'Hesiod, Works and Days: a didaxis of deconstruction?', G&R 51: 147-63.
  •  (2003) 'A sickness of discourse: the vanishing syndrome of leptosune', G&R 50: 191-205.
  •  (2003) Greek Epigram in the Roman Empire: Martial's Forgotten Rivals (Oxford University Press).
  • (2002) 'Barbarous verses: a mixed-media narrative from Greco-Roman Egypt', Apollo: the International Magazine of the Arts CLVI.485: 15-19.


Ancient Greek and Latin epigram; reception of Greece and Rome in film and popular culture; classics and media/fan studies; ancient Greek papyri

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