Born in Manchester, I was brought up in south London and educated at St Cecilia's School and Wimbledon College. But my Mancunian roots have remained strong in my lifelong support for Manchester United football club.
I returned to Manchester for my undergraduate studies, gaining a First Class Honours degree in History (Ancient, Medieval, Modern). I then went to Cambridge to undertake doctoral study in Ancient History, writing my PhD dissertation on 'Explorations in Classical Spartan Economy and Society', under the supervision of Moses Finley and Paul Cartledge.
I returned again to the University of Manchester as Lecturer in History, being promoted to Senior Lecturer, then Reader in Ancient History.
I joined the University of Nottingham in 2003 to take up my current post of Professor of Ancient History. In 2005 I co-founded the university's Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies, along with colleagues in Archaeology. In 2010 I became Director of the university's Institute for the Study of Slavery.
My broad area of expertise is the social, economic, political and military history of ancient Greece. Within that broad area, I have special expertise in
- archaic and classical Sparta, especially its social, economic, and military organisation
- Sparta in modern politics and thought, especially in the 20th century
- slavery, especially helotage and other forms of unfree agrarian labour
- the agrarian economy of ancient Greece, especially the role of animal husbandry
My training as a historian covered the full chronological range from the ancient to the modern worlds. I am therefore particularly interested in examining ancient Greece within the comparative perspective of other historical societies and in antiquity's role in modern political and intellectual thought .
I teach a wide range of subjects within ancient Greek history. I have listed below the main modules I have taught recently, although which modules I teach varies from year to year.
(NB In Spring semester 2017/18 I expect to be on a semester's research leave and not to be teaching any undergraduate or taught postgraduate modules.)
- Q81HIS Interpreting Ancient History (units on the development of Athenian democracy & warfare in Greek society)
- Q82SCS Studying Classical Scholarship (case study on the 19th-century historian George Grote)
- Q83062 Sparta
- Q83066 The Greek Countryside
- Q83SRR Classical Sparta: Receptions and Realities
- Ancient War and its Representations
Postgraduate Research. I am currently supervising students researching PhDs on:
- Depictions of Spartan Masculinity in Classical Athenian Prose
- Slaving Strategies in Classical Athens
- Aeolian Identity
- Social Change in Hellenistic Lakedaimon and Messene
- The reception of Greek thought in American conservativism since 1945
I welcome enquiries from students interested in pursuing doctoral research on any aspect of ancient Greek history or its modern reception, especially in the areas of Sparta and the Peloponnese; slavery; agrarian society and economy. I can offer joint co-supervision with colleagues with specialist expertise in other areas of Greek history and society and also in Greek Archaeology.
My main current interest is ancient Sparta and its reception in modern times. Since 2004 I have been directing a project on Sparta in Comparative Perspective, Ancient to Modern. The project compares… read more
My main current interest is ancient Sparta and its reception in modern times. Since 2004 I have been directing a project on Sparta in Comparative Perspective, Ancient to Modern. The project compares classical Sparta with other ancient Greek city-states and with societies at other historical times and places. It also examines the way in which Sparta has been appropriated as a comparative model in modern political and intellectual thought.
As part of this project, I have recently published two edited volumes: Sparta: Comparative Approaches and Sparta in Modern Thought , See also the full list of project publications by myself and other members of the project team.
I am also working on the interaction between war and society, especially Sparta's reputation as a military society and the reality behind that reputation, leading to book titled 'Comparing Spartan Militarism'.
Allied to my research on Sparta, I direct the University of Nottingham's Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies.
My other current research interest is in ancient slavery, especially helotage and unfree rural labour in ancient Greece. I am editing the Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Slaveries with Kostas Vlassopoulos and Marc Kleijwegt.
I am Director of the University of Nottingham's Institute for the Study of Slavery and have recently co-edited its latest conference volume on Slaves and Religions in Graeco-Roman Antiquity and Modern Brazil.
My past research has been directed at two important subjects within ancient history: (i) the agrarian economy of ancient Greece, especially the role of animal husbandry; (ii) the economy and society of archaic and classical Sparta.
These subjects are central to the understanding of ancient Greek society; but research in both areas had become somewhat stagnant, owing to the long-standing dominance of old-fashioned approaches. My work aimed to challenge the old orthodoxies with radically new approaches and interpretations. My core methods have been a close re-reading of both well-known and neglected ancient texts, together with use of hitherto under-utilised archaeological and epigraphic evidence, informed by insights drawn from other disciplines, especially the social sciences.
My approach to these subjects has viewed them against the comparative context of other areas of the ancient world and, cross-culturally, from the perspective of other historical times and places. My research ranges over many aspects of economy, society and culture, including education and upbringing; food and commensality; pederasty and homosexuality; patronage and friendship; political organisation and community; property and wealth; money and coinage; religious sanctuaries and votive offerings; slavery and unfree labour; sport and agonistic contests; warfare; women and gender.
Main past publications:
Property and Wealth in Classical Sparta (Duckworth & Classical Press of Wales, London 2000)
Sparta: New Perspectives, edited with Anton Powell (Duckworth & Classical Press of Wales, London 1999)
Alternatives to Athens: Varieties of Political Organization and Community in Ancient Greece, edited with Roger Brock (Oxford University Press, paperback re-issue 2002)
Sparta: Beyond the Mirage, edited with Anton Powell (Duckworth & Classical Press of Wales, London 2002)
Sparta and War, edited with Anton Powell (Classical Press of Wales, Swansea 2006)
Sparta: Comparative Approaches (Classical Press of Wales, Swansea 2009)
Sparta: The Body Politic, edited with Anton Powell (Classical Press of Wales, Swansea 2010)
Sparta in Modern Thought, edited with Ian Macgregor Morris (Classical Press of Wales 2012)
I am currently in the early stages of developing a future research project on Sparta and Totalitarianism in 20th century Western Democratic Thought. It will examine the way in which Sparta has been used in modern thought as an ancient analogy for 20th century totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
Two publications from this research have appeared to date:
'Sparta and Nazi Germany in mid-20th-century British liberal and left-wing thought', in A. Powell & S. Hodkinson (eds.), Sparta: The Body Politic, Swansea 2010, pp. 297-342.
'Sparta and the Soviet Union in U.S. Cold War foreign policy and intelligence analysis', in S. Hodkinson & I. Macgregor Morris (eds.), Sparta in Modern Thought, Swansea 2012, pp. 343-392.