Dr Rebecca M Armstrong

MA, MSt, DPhil

Teaching

Tutorial Fellow in Classics, St Hilda's College
Associate Professor in Classical Languages and Literature, Faculty of Classics

Dr Rebecca Armstrong teaches many papers for the undergraduate courses in Classics, especially in Latin literature and language. She currently lectures for the University on Vergil's Georgics and Ovid's Heroides, Ars Amatoria and Tristia. She also supervises graduate students in Latin literature.

Research

Dr Armstrong's main research interests lie in Latin poetry of the late Republic and early Empire. Her first book offers a thematic examination of Ovid's love poetry, looking at the changing persona of the poet-lover in the Amores, Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris and the characters of the beloved, the go-between, and the rival, as well as representations of the city of Rome and adaptations of mythology within Ovid's erotic verse.

In her second book, the myths of three badly behaved Cretan women, Pasiphae, Ariadne and Phaedra, are the focus. This dysfunctional family, whose stories involve bestiality, elopement, murder and incest, held great appeal for Latin poets, and this study explores the variety of ways in which they appear: as ‘intertextual' heroines, with a self-conscious emphasis on their position in the poetic tradition; as symbols of the wildness that can persist even in the most civilized societies; as fascinating and exciting figures through which to explore ideas and preconceptions of virtue and vice.

Dr Armstrong's major current research project is a study of the significance of plants and trees in the Eclogues, Georgics and Aeneid. Far from being simple backdrops to the action or offering mere decorative detail, Vergil's plants have significant parts to play in his poetry: from ancient trees representative of whole civilisations, to invasive weeds critiquing man's relationship with wild nature, or delicate flowers symbolic of a particular poetic style, the vegetable kingdom makes its mark on his entire poetic output. This book sets Vergil's plants in the context of ancient attitudes towards the environment, taking into account scientific and religious as well as broader cultural perspectives, and aims to show how Vergil both reflects and complicates the different thought patterns of his times.

Publications

Books:

Ovid and His Love Poetry (Duckworth, London: 2005)

Cretan Women: Pasiphae, Ariadne and Phaedra in Latin Poetry (Oxford University Press: 2006)

Articles:

‘Crete in the Aeneid: Recurring Trauma and Alternative Fate', Classical Quarterly 52 (2002) 321-40

‘Retiring Apollo: Ovid on the Politics and Poetics of Self-Sufficiency', Classical Quarterly 54 (2004) 528-50

'The Aeneid: Inheritance and Empire' in M Clarke, B Currie and ROAM Lyne (eds.) Epic Interactions: Perspectives on Homer, Virgil and the Epic Tradition (Oxford University Press: 2006)

‘Vergil's Cucumber: Georgics 4.121-2', Classical Quarterly 58 (2008) 366-8

'Against Nature? Some Augustan Perspectives on Man-Made Marvels' in P Hardie (ed.) Paradox and the Marvellous in Augustan Literature and Culture (Oxford University Press: 2009)

'Journeys and Nostalgia in Catullus', Classical Journal 109.1 (2013) 43 - 71