About our staff
Professor Gavin Kelly
MA, MPhil, DPhil
Professor of Latin Literature and Roman History and Head of Classics Subject Area; Classics
Head of Classics
I first thought Classics was fun at the age of 9, when I saw a repeat of I Claudius on TV; my enthusiasm was soon reinforced by a Penguin translation of Livy in my school library. History as literature and history from literature are still what interest me most, and most of what I publish combines elements of both literary criticism and political history. I read in Classics at Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, from 1993 to 1996, winning the Chancellor’s Medal for Proficiency in Classical Learning. At Magdalen College, Oxford, I took the MPhil in Ancient History in 1998 and a Doctorate in 2002. After holding Research Fellowships at Peterhouse, Cambridge (2000-2004) and Manchester (2004-2005), I arrived in Edinburgh as Lecturer in Latin Literature in 2005. I was appointed Senior Lecturer in 2011, Reader in 2014, and Professor in 2016. I have also been a Fellow of the National Humanities Center in North Carolina (2010-2011), a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford (2014), and a Humboldt Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.
At one of the gates of Nicaea
Bright, committed students make it a joy to teach Latin language and literature at Edinburgh. Many of our students have had the good fortune to be taught Latin at school; the four-year course means that those new to the language have time to catch up. By the end of their fourth year, our students can come up with remarkably original and scholarly work. At Honours, I enjoy teaching both central canonical texts like Vergil, Tacitus, and Juvenal, and brilliant but less discovered authors like Ammianus and Rutilius Namatianus. Very occasionally, there’s time for me to teach late Roman history.
I enjoy supervising doctoral students on literature of the high and late Roman empire (both verse and prose, including commentaries and text critical studies), and on (late) Roman political history, and am pleased to hear from those considering an application. As well as the students listed on the PG supervision tab below, I am external supervisor of PhDs on Claudian (Open University), Sidonius (San Marino), and Suetonius (St Andrews).
- Secretary of the Edinburgh and South East Centre, Classical Association of Scotland (2006-14)
- Fellow, National Humanities Center (2010-11)
- British Academy Mid-Career Fellow (2013-14)
- ACLS Collaborative Fellowship (2014-15)
- Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford (2014)
- Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (2015-2016)
- President of the Edinburgh and South East Centre, Classical Association of Scotland (2015-2020)
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Near East
- Ancient Civilisations
- Language & Literature
My interests embrace both the literature and the history of the Roman empire, above all the fourth and early fifth centuries – a time of rapid political, social, and religious change, and also one of the most significant periods in Latin literary history. Most of my work melds textual and historical approaches: as both Latinist and historian I prefer secular and pagan texts and topics to ecclesiastical ones. My doctorate and much of my work since has centred on Ammianus Marcellinus, the greatest historian of Late Antiquity. This project has been published in a number of articles in journals and collections (including ‘Ammianus and the great tsunami’, which appeared with ominous timing in November 2004), and Ammianus Marcellinus: The Allusive Historian was published by Cambridge University Press in 2008.
More recently I have collaborated with my colleague Lucy Grig on Rome and Constantinople in late antiquity: Two Romes, a collection of essays resulting from conferences held in Lampeter and Edinburgh, was published by Oxford University Press (New York) in 2012. New Approaches to Sidonius Apollinaris, co-edited with Joop van Waarden, was published by Peeters of Leuven in 2013; I also organise jointly with Van Waarden an international collaborative project, which has been funded by a Leverhulme International Network grant as well as by a British Academy/ Leverhulme Small Research Grant, to provide commentaries on the whole of Sidonius’ oeuvre. Among articles recently published or on their way to publication are studies of Latin poets including Martial. Rutilius Namatianus, and Sidonius, of the speeches and letters of Symmachus, and of the political history of the 370s AD. WIth my colleague Aaron Pelttari, I am editing a Cambridge History of Later Latin Literature and a Cambridge Dictionary of Later Latin Literature.
Watch a short video of me speaking about my current project on Ammianus - Media Hopper
A view of the Roman forum from the Capitoline hill.
Current research activities
My main individual project at the moment is concerned again with Ammianus’ Res Gestae, in the form both of a complete new translation for the Landmark Ammianus Marcellinus, edited by Michael Kulikowski (thanks to funding from the American Council of Learned Societies), and a book on the text and language of the Res Gestae (with funding from the British Academy and the Humboldt Foundation). I hope that this work may lead to a new edition of the text in the next decade.
Rutilius’ Return [In 2010-11 I held a fellowship at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina to work on the fifth-century poet Rutilius Namatianus]
Studies in the Text and Language of Ammianus Marcellinus [supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship 2013-2014, and Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship 2015-2016]
The Landmark Ammianus Marcellinus [Work on the translation supported by an ACLS Collaborative Fellowship, held jointly with Michael Kulikowski, Penn State, 2014-15]
Prolegomena to the study of Sidonius Apollinaris (in collaboration with Joop van Waarden, Amsterdam) [conference and publication of Prolegomena supported by British Academy/ Leverhulme Small Research Grant, 2014-2016]
Sidonius Apollinaris: A Comprehensive Commentary for the 21st Century [a Leverhulme-funded International Network, based in Edinburgh and involving scholars from the Universities of Amsterdam, Basel, Naples, Padua, and the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, 2014-2017]
- Various subhonours courses, especially non-beginners’ Latin (1c, 1d, 2a, 2b)
- Late Latin: Autobiographical Narratives in Late Antiquity [Augustine, Ammianus, Rutilius]
- Early Virgil [Eclogues and Georgics]
- Latin Historiography [Tacitus Annals]
- Martial and Juvenal
- The Emperor in the Late Roman World
- Literature and Society in the Age of Trajan
- Latin Language A and B [prose composition and metre]
The base of the obelisk of Theodosius in Constantinople
- I usually teach a Latin Text Seminar, a course for which the texts investigated change annually; authors previously taught include Claudian, Ammianus, Rutilius Namatianus, Petronius, Sidonius.
- I have also taught Period in Ancient History and A Topic in Late Antique and Byzantine History.
|Name||Degree||Thesis topic||Supervision type||Link|
|PhD||Pertinax and the New Elites of the Late Second Century [College of Humanities and Social Sciences Studentship, 2014-2017]||Primary|
|Paterson, Rory||PhD||‘Looking back: Love and torment in Late Antique “revivalist” Latin poetry’||Joint|
|Sagliardi, Giulia||PhD||A commentary on Claudian's Bellum Geticum [AHRC Studentship, 2015-2018]||Joint|
|Name||Degree||Thesis topic||Supervision type||Completion year||Link|
|PhD||Education in Fifth-Century Gaul [University of Edinburgh Research Scholarship, 2014-2017]||Primary||2018|
|Tsartsidis, Thomas||PhD||Prudentius Peristephanon 10 [College of Humanities and Social Sciences Studentship, 2012-15]||Primary||2017|
|Washington, Belinda||PhD||Empresses in the Late Roman World [Kerr-Fry scholarship, 2011-14]||Primary||2016|
|Hoskin, Matthew||PhD||The Letters of Pope Leo I [Principal’s Career Development Award 2011-2014]||Joint||2015|
|Cleary, Nicole||PhD||Jerome on the Attack [SHCA scholarship, 2010-13]||Joint||2014|
|Greenwood, David||PhD||Julian the Apostate||Joint||2013|
|Ellis, Anthony||PhD||Religion in Herodotus [SHCA scholarship 2009-12]||Secondary||2013|
|Washington, Belinda||MScR||The empress Justina [SHCA MSc award]||Primary||2010|
Gavin Kelly, Ammianus Marcellinus: The Allusive Historian (Cambridge University Press, 2008).
Joop van Waarden and Gavin Kelly (eds), New Approaches to Sidonius Apollinaris (Leuven, 2013).
Lucy Grig and Gavin Kelly, Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (New York, 2012).
Articles and Book Chapters
Gavin Kelly, ‘The Astrologer, the Eunuch, and the Emperor’, Revue des Etudes Tardo-antiques suppl. 5 (2018) (=E. Amato, P. De Cicco, T. Moreau (eds) Canistrum ficis plenum. Hommages à Bertrand Lançon), 241-251
Gavin Kelly, 'Edward Gibbon and Late Antique Literature', in S. McGill and E. Watts (eds) Blackwell's Companion to Late Antique Literature (Oxford, 2018), 611-626.
Gavin Kelly, 'Ammianus, Valens, and Antioch', in S.-P. Bergjan and S. Elm (eds) Antioch II: The Many Faces of Antioch: Intellectual Exchange and Religious Diversity (350-350 CE) (Tübingen, 2018), 147-172.
Gavin Kelly, 'From Martial to Juvenal (Epigrams 12.18)', in A. König and C.L. Whitton (eds) Roman Literature under Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian: Literary Interactions (Cambridge, 2018), 160-179.
Gavin Kelly, ‘The first book of Symmachus’ Letters as an independent collection’, in P.F. Moretti, R. Ricci, and C. Torre (eds) Culture and Literature in Latin Late Antiquity. Continuities and Discontinuities (Turnhout, 2016), 197-220.
Gavin Kelly and Justin Stover, 'The Hersfeldensis and the Fuldensis of Ammianus Marcellinus: A Reconsideration', Cambridge Classical Journal 62 (2016), 108-129
Gavin Kelly, ‘Claudian’s last panegyric and imperial visits to Rome’, Classical Quarterly 66 (2016), 336-357.
Gavin Kelly, ‘Ammianus’ Greek accent’, Talanta 45 (2013 ) [special issue edited by M.-P. García Ruiz and A. Quiroga Puertas (eds), Linguistic and Cultural Alterity in the Roman Empire], 67-79.
Gavin Kelly, 'The political crisis of AD 375-376', Chiron 43 (2013), 357-409.
Gavin Kelly, ‘Pliny and Symmachus’, in B. Gibson and R. Rees (ed.) Pliny the Younger in Late Antiquity (= Arethusa 46.2), 261-287.
Gavin Kelly, ‘Sidonius and Claudian’, in J. van Waarden and G. Kelly (eds), New Approaches to Sidonius Apollinaris (Leuven, 2013), 171-191.
Lucy Grig and Gavin Kelly, ‘Introduction: from Rome to Constantinople’, in L. Grig and G. Kelly (eds), Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (New York, 2012), 3-30.
Gavin Kelly, ‘Claudian and Constantinople’, in L. Grig and G. Kelly (eds), Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (New York, 2012), 241-264.
Gavin Kelly, ‘Ammianus Marcellinus’, Oxford Bibliographies Online: Classics (see www.oxfordbibliographies.com) (New York, 2011; revised and updated 2015).
Gavin Kelly, ‘The Roman world of Festus’ Breviarium’, in Unclassical Traditions: Alternatives to the Classical Past in Late Antiquity, edited by C. Kelly, R. Flower, and M.S. Williams (Cambridge, 2010), 72-89.
Gavin Kelly, ‘Ammianus Marcellinus: Tacitus’ heir and Gibbon’s guide’, in Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians, edited by A. Feldherr (Cambridge, 2009), 348-361.
Gavin Kelly, 'Adrien de Valois and the chapter headings in Ammianus Marcellinus', Classical Philology 104 (2009), 233-242
Gavin Kelly, 'The sphragis and closure of the Res Gestae', in J. den Boeft, D. den Hengst, H.C. Teitler and J.W. Drijvers (eds) Ammianus after Julian: The Reign of Valentinian and Valens in Books 26 - 31 of the Res Gestae (Leiden, 2007), 219-241.
Gavin Kelly, '"To forge their tongues to grander styles": Ammianus' epilogue', in J. Marincola (ed) A Companion to Greek and Roman Historiography (Oxford, 2007), 474-480.
Gavin Kelly, 'Constantius II, Julian, and the example of Marcus Aurelius: Ammianus Marcellinus XXI, 16, 11-12', Latomus 64 (2005), 409-416.
Gavin Kelly, 'Ammianus and the great tsunami', Journal of Roman Studies 94 (2004), 141-167.
Gavin Kelly, 'The New Rome and the old: Ammianus Marcellinus' silences on Constantinople', Classical Quarterly 53 (2003), 588-607.
Among my book reviews I would draw particular attention to my reviews of the Ammianus commentaries (vols. 25-26, 27-28, 29, and 30-31), and of Alan Cameron's Last Pagans of Rome. For other reviews and short contributions see my academia page or my blog.