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Postgraduate Research in Classics


Recently completed PhDs


Recently completed MAs

BA (Honours)

Classics PhD

Dean Alexander BA (Hons), MA (Otago)

Ultimus Romanorum: The Rise of Cassius the Tyrannicide

Supervisors: Professor Jon Hall and Professor Robert Hannah (Dean, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Waikato)

Kara Braithwaite-Westoby PgDip, BA (Otago)

Epameinondas and the Theban Hegemony

Kara is researching the famous general Epameinondas (c. 420-361 B.C.), who was instrumental in establishing Theban Hegemony during the early fourth century B.C. His Thesis will attempt to assess, in its entirety, his life and times with particular interest in his capacity as a statesman and general.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Pat Wheatley

Charlotte Dunn BA (Hons), MA (Otago)

The Career of Demetrius Poliorcetes

Charlotte is examining the life and career of Demetrius Poliorcetes, one of the Successors of Alexander the Great. Her thesis will use a number of different genres to supplement the historical literary evidence, such as examples of artwork, inscriptions, and most importantly, numismatic evidence.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Pat Wheatley and Professor Jon Hall.

Joel Gordon BMus, BA(Hons), MA (Victoria), GradDip (App Theol)

Imagining the Underworld:  Topography Versus Eschatology

Joel is researching how the realm of the underworld was envisioned as a place and a space within archaic and classical Greek thought (from Homer until Plato). Of particular concern are references and allusions to Hades and its topography which are all too often overlooked in preference for the picture painted by Homer and other eschatological giants (e.g. Pindar’s Odes, Aristophanes’ Frogs and Plato’s dialogues). Special emphasis will also be given to the role played by real-world geographical locations associated with the underworld and the philosophies of the Presocratics. Joel seeks to challenge the dominant suggestion that there existed a single canonical eschatology which informed the underworld’s representation - topographical features served a variety of purposes dependent upon the author, their intent, and their audience, rather than simply mapping out a logical and consistent picture of the underworld.

Supervisors: Dr Arlene Allan and Dr Sean McConnell

Thomas Köentges BA, MA (Leipzig)

A Commentary on the "pre-Cena" Section of Petronius' Satyrica

Supervisors: Dr John Garthwaite and Professor William Dominik

Kyle Gervais BSc (Hons), MA Classics (Queen's University)

A Commentary of Statius, Thebaid 2

This is the first commentary on the second book of Statius’ epic poem, the Thebaid, in nearly sixty years, and the only full-scale English commentary. Kyle's primary objective is to explain the meaning (in several senses of the term) of the Latin text. The following are some of the other, larger questions he has used to guide his exegesis. What is the literal meaning of each passage and how does it interact with various figurative meanings? What does each passage contribute to our understanding of Statius’ poetic usage and technique? Of Latin epic technique? How does it inform the dominant issues, themes, and images explored by book two? How does it interact with the rest of the poem (i.e., intratexts and their meaning)? How does it interact with other (especially epic) texts (i.e., intertexts and their meaning)?

Supervisors: Professor William Dominik and Dr John Garthwaite

Maria Mackay BA, Dip Tchng, DCE, PGDipArts (English, Classics), Dip Grad (English, Classics), MA (Otago)

Klytaimestra: Gene and Gender Conflict in Greek Tragedy.

Klytaimestra frequently figures as the worst woman in Greek mythology, whose avenging act of husband-murder “splashed [...] shame on herself and the rest of her sex, on women / still to come, even on the one whose acts are virtuous” (Odyssey 11.433-4). Her story is one of the iconic narratives of innate female evil justifying a long tradition of Western misogyny. Ancient Greek society clearly demonstrates, in literature and history, cultural values that incorporate and privilege male biological mating strategy. The gender conflicts that are one of the central themes of Greek tragedy reflect this essential root of gender conflict in cross-cultural and diachronic human behaviour. Maria's thesis explores the characterization of Klytaimestra, primarily in fifth-century BCE tragedy, considering the Greek views of women that frame her depiction, the modern feminist interpretation of Klytaimestra, and how her narrative may be further understood through biopoetic analysis as expressing and resolving evolved gendered behaviours and conflict. The analysis of the character of Klytaimestra through the lens of a sociobiological methodology contributes to an understanding of the literary tradition of misogyny that underpins millennia of effective reproductive inequities, across human cultures.

Supervisors: Dr Arlene Allan and Professor Brian Boyd (University of Auckland)

Cameron McPhail BA (Hons), MA (Otago)

The Continents and Panhellenism: From Homer to Herodotus.

Cameron's thesis examines the role of one specific geographical space – the continent – in the articulation of collective Greek identity, known in modern coinage as “Panhellenism.” He argues that in the absence of a firm and uniform concept of a “Greek world,” certain geographical spaces, most notably the sea and continents, developed important symbolic meanings some of which were assimilated into the Greek explanation of “Greekness.” For the continents, it was in Classical Athens, especially amidst the dynamic social and political context of the Persian Wars and the protracted aftermath of on-going conflict between the Athenian-led Delian League and Persia, that they became most deeply embroiled in the process of Greek self-definition. The Athenians inserted the continents into the complex discourse of oppositional identity, which came to define Greekness by the ethnocentric antithesis of Greek and Barbarian. Throughout the course of ancient Greek history there arose many competing and conflicting ideas about the scope and priority of the continents’ metaphysical meanings.

Supervisors: Professor Robert Hannah (Dean, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Waikato) and Associate Professor Pat Wheatley

Stefan Pedersen BA (Massey), PGDipArts, MA (Otago)

Regularly Irregular Motion in Proclus’ Celestial Physics

In Neoplatonic ontology, the celestial realm acts as intermediary between the intelligible and the sensible worlds. Observation of the heavens was thought to help the straying human soul recall divine order, and yet planetary motions also served as paradigms for disorderly motion in the sublunary world.
In his attempt to reconcile the idea of regular circular motion for the planetary orbits with the undeniable fact of their observed irregularity, Proclus (5th Century AD) described planetary motion in somewhat ambiguous terms, as ‘regularly irregular’ or ‘irregularly regular’. This research contended that Proclus found a way to regard the irregularity as ontologically real. Although he retained the principle of uniform circular motion for higher levels, he, for the first time in antiquity, abandoned this ideal with regard to the observable phenomena.

Supervisors: Professor Robert Hannah (Dean, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Waikato), Dr Peter Anstey (Department of Philosophy)

Susan Pelechek BA (Coe College), PG Dip (Otago)

Representations and Receptions of Scipio Africanus

Susan is analysing the representations and receptions of Scipio Africanus the Elder. This is an interdisciplinary project that examines historical and literary sources, from the Roman period through the present day, as well as art, music, and literature from the Middle Ages to the present day. Susan will analyse the Scipio’s image in antiquity, paying particular reference to Scipio’s connection with Jupiter. She is also hoping to ascertain the different ways in which Scipio was represented throughout the generations and why this image may or may not have changed. Susan also hopes to examine how different authors and artists adapted his image to suit their needs.

Supervisors: Professor William Dominik, Professor Jon Hall, and Associate Professor Pat Wheatley

Alessandra Pugliese BA, MA (Università Cattolica)

The Greek World and Rome in the Late Hellenistic Period

Alessandra’s work focuses on the relations between Rome and the Greek world in a period which approximately spans from the sack of Corinth to the Mithridatic Wars. The objective is to understand to what extent Rome exerted control over the Greek territory, the degree of independence of the latter and the nature of Roman influence on it. To this end Alessandra is outlining a socio-economic history of the Greek world in the attempt to reconstruct the events which occurred in circa sixty years, a period which has been generally neglected by modern scholarship. Given the loss or the extremely fragmentary status of historiographical sources, a continuous account of the events of the late second and early first century BC is unfortunately unrecoverable. Therefore, Alessandra’s attention has turned towards documentary sources (epigraphic, archaeological and numismatic). Data has been searched in specific areas in order to offer case studies of the Roman and Italian presence on the Greek territory and assess whether or not it is possible to speak of “Romanization” of Greece.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Pat Wheatley and Professor Robert Hannah (Dean, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Waikato)

Bill Richardson BA (Hons) (UTAS)

The Origin of Philip II's Panhellenism

Supervisors: Associate Professor Pat Wheatley and Professor William Dominik

Constance Sleeth BA (Hons) (Trent), MA (Royal Holloway, U. of London)

Euripides' Zeus, Seneca's Jupiter: The Tragic 'Father of Gods and Men'

Supervisors: Dr Arlene Allan and Professor William Dominik

Andrew Stopyra BA (Hons) (Otago), MPhil (Cambridge)

Diodorus Siculus on Alexander

A transalation and commentary of Diodorus Siculus Book 17 on Alexander the Great.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Pat Wheatley and Professor Jon Hall

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Classics MA

Chloe Bray BA Hons (Otago)

The Many Faces of the Moon: Lunar Mythology and Religion in the Ancient World

The purpose of Chloe's thesis is to show that common threads existed in perceptions of the moon across several ancient cultures. Her chapters cover Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Rome. In Chloe's discussion of each culture, she addresses the major lunar deities and their place in religion and mythology, identifying the fundamental ideologies which surround them. The most significant lunar theme evident in each culture is an association with boundaries and transition. The moon and lunar deities are often present at physical boundaries such as those between kingdoms or cities, as well as transitional experiences including initiation, death and childbirth. In each culture, lunar deities play an ambiguous role, as guides and protectors as well as embodiments of the potential danger associated with crossing boundaries. These similarities suggest the transfer of ideologies between cultures, and reveal the readiness of ancient people to perceive the moon as a liminal and ambiguous entity.

Supervisors: Dr John Garthwaite and Professor Robert Hannah (Dean, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Waikato)

Campbell Calverley BA Hons (Otago)

The Rhetoric of Incest in Senecan Drama and Histories of Nero

As a literary device in Senecan drama, incest is treated with moderately introspective intentions. Taking inspiration from Greek authors such as Euripides, Seneca utilizes incest in at least three of his plays in order to explore themes of self-control, madness, familial conflict, trust and guilt. Writing in the Flavian period (69-96CE), the historians Suetonius and Tacitus also depict incest in their descriptions of the relationship between the emperor Nero and his mother Agrippina. For them, incest is a literary device that is used to further sensationalise events in the life of Nero, and to demonize him as a character.

This thesis aims first to analyse Seneca’s plays to determine what forms of rhetoric are used in relation to incest, and for what purpose. It will then examine Suetonius’ and Tacitus’ depictions of the life of Nero, with a view that these historians took inspiration from Seneca’s plays by appropriating the rhetoric of incest in order to attack political figures. This comparison of representations of incest in different Roman literary genres will allow for a detailed discussion of the tradition of incest invective among authors writing about the political power and position of the Julio-Claudians.

Supervisor: Dr Gwynaeth McIntyre

Serena Gold BA Hons(Otago)

Defining Macedonian Offices

Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, his prominent generals met to discuss how his immense empire should be administered; this is commonly referred to as the Babylonian Settlement. At this stage, they distributed several important Macedonian offices to the most powerful generals. A range of terminology is used to describe these roles including tutores, epimeletes, prostasia, strategos, chiliarchos and hyparchos. This terminology describes a mixture of military and administrative roles, the exact nature of which requires further examination. The difficulty with this however is the ancient sources themselves appear confused as to what exactly these positions involved.
This thesis aims to examine how these terms are used throughout the ancient sources to gain a fuller understanding of what these positions were believed to entail. I will explore the origin of these offices and the terminology used to describe them. By examining the military and administrative structure of the Macedonians and those whom they ruled, I hope to establish how these offices developed over time. This will help to further our understanding of how the ancient Macedonian world functioned and clarify the structure that was in place during the particularly confusing period of Alexander’s Successors.

Supervisor:  Associate Professor Pat Wheatley

Will Harvey BA Hons (Otago)

Reflections on the Enigmatic Goddess: The Origins of Hekate and the Development of her Character to the End of the Fifth Century B.C.

Will’s thesis aims to reconsider the origins of the goddess Hekate, addressing such questions as: what is the geographical provenance of Hekate? What does the evidence for the goddess up to the end of the fifth century B.C. tell us about the development of her character in the Greek religious world? Why did Hekate acquire such frightening and evil connections to the supernatural and black magic by this point? Although several theories have been proposed about the origin of Hekate, a Karian provenance remains the most likely. Tenuous links and methodological flaws characterise the theories that she was Mycenaean or Mesopotamian, while the Thracian theory rests on a fallacious assumption that Hekate evolved from the Thracian Bendis. The Karian theory is propped up by a variety of data that allows us to incrementally draw back the date to which Hekate’s worship in the region may be assigned. The earliest evidence, Hesiod’s Theogony, depicts a great, benevolent goddess, while evidence from the second half of the fifth century characterizes Hekate as a malevolent deity connected to ghosts, witchcraft, and sorcery who could and would occasion grievous harm to people, especially parturient women or newborns. This aspect of Hekate’s divinity in relation to women’s transitions and the failure thereof seems to have become particularly pronounced following her introduction to the Panhellenic pantheon and her mythic subordination to Artemis. But did the goddess ever bear inherent connections to the dead, despite Hesiod’s glowing Hymn to her? Milesian archaeological evidence suggests she might have. However, it was the acquisition of magical properties that ultimately extinguished much of Hekate’s benevolence. It seems most likely that the Thessalian reputation for black magic, which was a direct result of medism in 485 and 480 B.C., was causative of this, given Hekate’s close association with the Thessalian Enodia.

Supervisor: Dr John Garthwaite

Chelsea Johnston BA Hons (Otago)

Beware of that Cup!: The Role of Food-tasters in Ancient Society

Many Greek and Roman sources express a preoccupation with the use of poison and its potential for murder. Consequently, food-tasters, known as edeatroi and praegustatores, were charged with the task of detecting poison in food and drink, usually on the behalf of a monarch. Despite the frequency of references to poison the sources are largely silent on the methods employed to detect poison and on those charged with the task of detecting it. This thesis attempts to shed light on an otherwise invisible aspect of the Greek, Ptolemaic Egyptian, and Imperial Roman societies. Firstly, the social status of the tasters will be examined by cataloguing the positions a taster held during the course of his career. It will be argued tasters followed a set career path that resembled a cursus honorum. In the course of this discussion, it will be established that many tasters performed duties that were unrelated to food-tasting and poison detection. Secondly, this thesis will determine the nature of a taster's duties in court societies, revealing the many duties of food-tasters that contributed to the creation of a bureaucratic class responsible for affairs of public interest. Finally, the use of praegustatores as poison detectors will be examined. This will include an examination of the different methods a praegustator used to detect poison in an early form of forensic testing. These methods include detection by the taster himself being poisoned, but will also consider alternative methods of poison detection such as the observation of visible symptoms of poison, and detection of a toxin through tasting or smelling its presence in food. The best method to avoid poisoning, however, was to prevent the poison from being administered. It will therefore be postulated that a praegustator was used to watch over food to prevent interference.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Pat Wheatley

Amanda Macauley

Plutarch and the Virtues of the Roman matrona: Feminine First Person Discourse in the Parallel Lives

Supervisor:  Professor Jon Hall

Jon Rolfe BA Hons (Otago)

The Politics and Social Prestige of Priesthoods in the Late Republic

The overarching question to Jon’s thesis is: why become an augur or a pontiff in the late Republican Rome? What motivated young political hopefuls, such as Caesar, to risk so much financial loss in the campaign for religious office? The two major priestly colleges in late Republican Rome were the Augurate and the Pontificate, and traditionally scholars viewed these institutions as essentially political in nature, affording its members the power to directly meddle in political affairs. More recently scholars have come to appreciate the religious diversity and complexity of religion in late Republican Rome, noting well that most evidence passed down to us is through the skewed perspective of one man: Cicero. Combining these two approaches, Jon’s thesis will first explore how priests were able to utilise their positions to interfere in senatorial deliberations, though not always successfully. The second half of Jon’s thesis will suggest that the essential motivation for those seeking religious office was the social cachet associated with these colleges. Attaining membership in one of the most prestigious religious colleges of the day gave a young budding political hopeful the opportunity to mingle amongst the upper echelons of the Roman elite and cultivate political contacts that could last a lifetime. This second aspect of priesthoods, brushed over by previous scholarship, sheds light on why the pursuit for membership became one of the most hotly contested elections in the late Republic.

Supervisor: Professor Jon Hall

Nathan Watson BA Hons (Otago)

From Philosophising Ass to Asinine Philosopher: Satire in Book 11 of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses

The major question in the study of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses concerns the interpretation of Lucius’ religious conversion in Book 11. For the past thirty years scholars have put forward interpretations that discern satire in this conversion. As yet, however, there has been no comprehensive examination of the merits and drawbacks of each approach that offers a systematic deconstruction of the essential themes in relation to Books 1-10.
This study argues that there is a fundamental flaw in the current approach to satire in Book 11. This is caused by trying to read it as a satire on priestly deception and religious gullibility, just as in the presentation of the priests of the Syrian goddess and their followers in Books 8-9. The key difference between the scenario presented in Books 8-9 and that in Book 11 is that the latter includes god-sent dreams. This thesis shows that, depending on whether one interprets Lucius’ dreams as divine visions or as meaningless delusions, the ultimate responsibility for the conversion rests with the priests or the gods. Both alternatives are explored separately. It emerges that a more coherent interpretation of satire in Book 11 can be found when the gods and their relationship to Lucius is the focus.

Supervisor: Dr John Garthwaite

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Classics BA (Honours) 2017

Tom Brown

Creating an Emperor:  Examining the Augustan Persona through Time and Author

Supervisor:  Dr Gwynaeth McIntyre

Mallory Heslop

Supervisor:  Dr Arlene Allan

Lila Knight

Perceptions of Caligula's Relationship with the Roman Army on Imperial Coinage

Supervisor:  Dr Gwynaeth McIntyre

Tabitha Moe

Minoan Prowess

Supervisor:  Dr Dan Osland

Classics BA (Honours) 2016

Serena Gold

Deciphering Lost History: Arrian’s τὰ μετὰ Ἀλέξανδρον and its Historical Significance

Supervisor:  Associate Professor Pat Wheatley

Gene Haggie

Origins of felicitas in Sulla’s Reign

Supervisor:  Dr Gwynaeth McIntyre

Libby Neumann

Seen but Not Heard: An Exploration of Childhood and the Role of Children in the Art and Archaeology of Campania

Supervisor:  Dr Dan Osland

Rowan Newton

Cognitive Spectatorship in Greek Theatre and Performative Ritual

Supervisor:  Dr Arlene Allan

Classics BA (Honours) 2015

Campbell Calverley

A Woman Scorned:  Literary Representations of Phaedra

Supervisors:  Professor William Dominik and Professor Jon Hall

Katie Greene

Iambic Invective:  The Protest Music of Archaic Greece

Supervisor:  Dr Arlene Allan

Christopher Hawtin

An innovative proof of concept webpage featuring the first one-hundred lines of Virgil's Aeneid with digital annotations

Supervisor:  Dr Dan Osland

Ruth Tae'iloa

The Value of a Virtue:  Homeric Masculinity in Traditional Tonga

Supervisor:  Dr Sean McConnell

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