Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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King Richard’s worms

By Philip Mackowiak
It has been said that the only persons who refer to themselves as “we” are royalty, college professors, and those with worms. In the 4 September 2013 issue of the Lancet, Piers Mitchell and colleagues present evidence that Richard III, one of England’s best known medieval kings and the deformed villain of Shakespeare’s Richard III, had two reasons for referring to himself in the first person plural.

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Bowersock and OUP from 1965 to 2013

Earlier this year, Oxford University Press (OUP) published The Throne of Adulis by G.W. Bowersock, as part of Oxford’s Emblems of Antiquity Series, commissioned by the editor Stefan Vranka from the New York office. It was especially thrilling that Professor Bowersock agreed to write a volume, as it represents a homecoming of sorts for the noted classics scholar, who began his career with OUP in 1965 with the monograph Augustus and the Greek World.

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The ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum

The historic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 may have buried Pompeii and Herculaneum under a thick carpet of volcanic ash, but it preserved what is surely our most valuable archaeological record of daily life in Ancient Rome to date.

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What were the Red Sea Wars?

An inscribed marble throne at the Ethiopian port of Adulis offers us a rare window into the fateful events comprising what has come to be known as the “Red Sea Wars.”

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Whose Odyssey is it anyway?

By Justine McConnell
The death of Martin Bernal in June attracted less media attention than one might have hoped for the man who brought an unprecedented attention to the contemporary study of Classics. His 1987 work, Black Athena, was not the first to argue for a strong, pervasive African influence on the culture of ancient Greece, but it was the first to receive widespread notice.

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Nine facts about athletics in Ancient Greece

The World Championships in Athletics takes place this month in Moscow. Since 1983 the championship has grown in size and now includes around 200 participating countries and territories, giving rise to the global prominence of athletics. The Ancient Greeks were some of the earliest to begin holding competitions around athletics, with each Greek state competing in a series of sporting events in the city of Olympia once every four years.

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Constantine in Rome

By David Potter
July is a month of historic anniversaries. The Fourth of July and Bastille Day celebrate moments that have shaped the modern world. No less important is the 25th of July. This Thursday will mark the 1707th anniversary of Constantine’s accession to the throne of part of the Roman Empire.

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Nine curiosities about Ancient Greek drama

The International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama held annually in Cyprus during the month of July. Since its beginning in 1996, the festival has reimagined performances from the great Ancient Greek playwrights, so we dug into J.C. McKeown’s A Cabinet of Greek Curiosities for some of the lesser known facts about Ancient Greek theatre.

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Images to remember the Battle of Plataea

In 479 BCE, ancient city-state rivals, the Spartans and Athenians, joined in alliance against Persia, 50 years before the infamous Peloponnesian War. Together, they took the Oath of Plataea, revealing deep-seated anxieties about how the defeat would be remembered in history… and to whom the credit would fall.

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Demystifying the Hanging Garden of Babylon

For centuries, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World have captivated scholars as some of the most magnificent – and last remaining – representations of classical antiquity. Of those seven, the Hanging Garden of Babylon has particularly intrigued scholars, due in large part to the ambiguity surrounding its physical construction, geographical location, and enduring architectural legacy.

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The mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon

By Stephanie Dalley
I once gave a general talk about ancient Mesopotamian gardens, and was astonished, when I prepared for it, to find that there was really no hard evidence for the Hanging Garden at Babylon, although all the other wonders of the ancient world certainly did exist.

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What is a poem?

By William Fitzgerald
In 1934 William Carlos Williams famously published what seems to be a note left on the refrigerator for a spouse to read, only now set typographically to look like a poem. It’s called ‘This is Just to Say’.

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The reign of Alexander the Great

The relatively short reign of Alexander (336 to 323 BC) marked one of the major turning-points in world history. The Greek city states continued to function after his death, but the world order had changed and a new era began, which came to be labelled the Hellenistic period. For Alexander, like many an autocrat, departed without leaving a viable succession plan.

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War and glory

The failures of leadership… the destructive power of beauty… the quest for fame… the plight of women… the brutality of war… Such themes have endured for over 2,700 years in Homer’s classic The Iliad — from the flight of Helen and Paris, to the fury of Menelaus and Agamemnon, to the fight between Hector and Achilles. We sat down with Barbara Graziosi and Anthony Verity, the writer of the introduction and translator respectively, to discuss the new Oxford World’s Classics edition of The Iliad.

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The Trojan War: fact or fiction?

By Eric Cline
The Trojan War may be well known thanks to movies, books, and plays around the world, but did the war that spurred so much fascination even occur? The excerpt below from The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction helps answer some of the many questions about the infamous war Homer helped immortalize.

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Unearthing Viking jewellery

By Jane Kershaw
There’s a lot we still don’t know about the Vikings who raided and then settled in England. The main documentary source for the period, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, simply tells us that Viking armies raided Britain’s coastline from the late eighth century. Raiding was followed by settlement, and by the 870s, the Vikings had established a territory in the north and east of the country which later became known as the ‘Danelaw’.

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