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Professor Katherine Clarke

MA DPhil Oxf


Professor Katherine Clarke teaches mostly late republican and early imperial Roman History, covering the fascinating period of dynamic change during which Rome moved from a relatively democratic form of rule to the monarchical power of, albeit often benevolent, emperors.

Professor Clarke's research interests range widely. She has published three substantial books with Oxford University Press. The first two focus on the Hellenistic period during which Rome began to emerge as the leading world power. Between Geography and History: Hellenistic Constructions of the Roman World concerns the geographical tradition and examines the way in which Greek writers were forced to re-evaluate their conceptions of the world in the light of Roman imperialism; this work focuses particularly on the geographer, Strabo, who left the only extensively surviving geographical description from antiquity (17 books), covering the whole known world. Professor Clarke's second book, Making Time for the Past: Local History and the Polis, shifts the focus from space to time, examining the conception and articulation of time in the Greek world, especially in the context of local history. By looking at the construction of the past through the medium of local historiography, it offers an insight into how different versions of the past and different constructions of time were offered to the community for approval. Professor Clarke's most recent book, Shaping the Geography of Empire: Man and Nature in Herodotus' Histories, focuses on this Greek historian's presentation of the natural world and on the interaction of players within the narrative with their environment.

She has also published extensively on the works of Roman historians such as Tacitus, with his cynical take on the world of imperial power, and Polybius, who witnessed and analysed the rise of Rome as a global ruler. Professor Clarke's next phase of research involves further work on both of these authors; in particular a major study of the importance of kingship in Tacitus' analysis of the early Principate, which belies and challenges the popular image of Rome as a state that could not abide the idea of a king!

Besides publishing widely, Professor Clarke has appeared as invited speaker at many international conferences - from New York to Kyoto, the Basque country, Strasbourg, Milan, Essen, as well as in the UK.

Between Geography and History: Hellenistic Constructions of the Roman World (Oxford University Press, 1999; paperback edition 2001)

Making Time for the Past: Local History and the Polis (Oxford University Press, 2008; paperback edition 2011)

Shaping the Geography of Empire: Man and Nature in the Histories of Herodotus (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Articles and Chapters
‘In Search of the Author of Strabo’s Geography’, Journal of Roman Studies 87 (1997) 92-110

‘Universal perspectives in historiography’, in C. Kraus (ed.), The Limits of Historiography: Genre and Narrative in Ancient Historical Texts (Leiden, Brill, 1998) 249-80

‘Prologue and Provenance: Quis ille? or Unde ille?’, in A. Laird and A. Kahane (edd.), A Companion to the Prologue to Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001) 101-110

‘An Island Nation: Re-reading Tacitus’ Agricola’, Journal of Roman Studies 91 (2001) 94-112

‘In arto et inglorius labor: Tacitus’ anti-history’, in A.K. Bowman, H.M. Cotton, M. Goodman and S.R.F. Price (eds.) Representations of Empire. Rome and the Mediterranean World (Oxford and The British Academy, 2002) 83-103

‘Polybius and the Nature of Late Hellenistic Historiography’, in J. Santos Yanguas and E. Torregaray Pagola (eds.) Polibio y la Península Ibérica. Revisiones de Historia Antigua IV (Vitoria Gasteiz, 2003) 69-87

‘Ever-increasing circles: constructing the world of the Roman Empire’, in T. Minamikawa (ed.) Material Culture, Mentality and Historical Identity in the Ancient World (Kyoto, 2004) 43-54

‘Parochial Tales in a Global Empire: Creating and Recreating the World of the Itinerant Historian’, in L. Troiani and G. Zecchini (eds.) La Cultura storica nei primi due Secoli dell’Impero romano (Rome, 2005) 111-28

‘Les fragments de Posidonios chez Athénée’, in D. Lenfant (ed.), Athénée et les fragments d’historiens. Actes du colloque de Strasbourg 16–18 juin 2005 (De Boccard, Paris, 2007) 291-302

‘Text and Image: Mapping the Roman World’, in F.-H. Mutschler and A. Mittag (eds.), Conceiving the Empire: China and Rome Compared (Oxford University Press, 2008) 195-215

‘D’une Méditerranée de pirates et de barbares à une Méditerranée cœur de civilisation:  Strabon et la construction d’un concept unifié dans le cadre romain’, Pallas 79 (2009) 295-303

'Putting up Pyramids, Characterizing Kings', in R. Ash, J. Mossman, F. Titchener (eds.), Fame and Infamy: Essays for Christopher Pelling on Characterization in Greek and Roman Biography and Historiography (Oxford University Press, 2015) 37-51

'Walking through History: unlocking the mythical past', in G. Hawes (ed.), Myths on the map: the storied landscapes of ancient Greece (Oxford University Press, 2016)

'Strabo's Mediterranean', in D. Dueck (ed.), Routledge Companion to Strabo (Routledge, 2017) 47-59

With R. Armstrong, ‘Travelling in Greek and Roman Literature’, in S. Levie and M. de Pourcq (eds.), European Literary History (London, 2018) 26-35

‘Ignorance is Bliss: Evaluating Geographical Knowledge in Herodotus and Thucydides’, Histos 13 (2019) (175-207)

‘Minding the Gap: mimetic imperfection and the historiographical enterprise’, in A. Turner (ed.), Reconciling Ancient and Modern Philosophies of History and Historiography (de Gruyter, 2020) 179-202

‘Language and Meaning in Tacitus’ Annals’, Journal of Roman Studies 111 (2021) 215-24

‘Poseidonios’, in G. Shipley (ed.), Geographers of the Ancient Greek World (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2023)

‘Quasi portus pelago compassione afficitur: Adversity and adventure in the Ancient Atlantic?’, in C. Noreña (ed.), The Roman Atlantic: Dynamics of an Ocean Frontier (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2023)

‘Bringing the Germania in from the cold’, in K. Shannon-Henderson and S. Bartera (eds.), The Oxford Critical Guide to Tacitus (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2023)

'Epistemological Contests: Space and Knowledge in Polybius' Histories', in B. Gibson and F. Maier (eds.), Brill's Companion to Polybius (Leiden, Brill, forthcoming 2023)

‘Kings are the slaves of history’: Virtue, freedom and the figure of the king in Tacitus’ Germania and Seneca’s Thyestes’, (Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2024) - in preparation for an unspecified surprise Festschrift volume


  • Tutorial Fellow in Ancient History
  • Domestic Fellow
  • Professor of Greek and Roman History , Faculty of Classics


  • Ancient and Modern History
  • Classical Archaeology and Ancient History