Lectures explore why classical world matters

​​​​​​​Leading scholar and classicist Dame Mary Beard has been outlining the themes being explored in her Edinburgh lecture series.

Professor Beard is using this year’s Gifford Lectures to highlight that we are not so different from those living in the ancient world.

A Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, she is one of the UK’s best-known scholars and has written numerous books on ancient civilizations.

Professor Beard’s Gifford Lecture series takes place in Edinburgh over six dates throughout May.

Each lecture focuses on a theme highlighting the similarities between the ancient world and our own. It encourages audiences to consider the ethical and moral challenges that these similarities pose.


Professor Dame Mary Beard discusses her Gifford Lecture Series, The Ancient World and us: from fear and loathing to enlightenment and ethics.

Online discussion

Following each lecture, a University Gifford Lectures blog post has been published to enable further debate on issues covered by Professor Beard.

In each post, Andrew Johnson, of the University’s School of Divinity, shares his reflections on themes raised in the lecture and encourages others to comment and engage.

The University of Edinburgh Gifford Lectures blog

Videos of each of Professor Beard’s lectures can also be found online via the University’s Youtube channel.

Watch Professor Beard’s Gifford Lectures

Esteemed lectureship

The Gifford Lectures have been delivered since 1888 by a succession of distinguished international scholars. They explore the links between nature and religion.

The lecture series was established under the will of Adam Lord Gifford (1820-1887), a Senator of the College of Justice at the University.

Previous speakers include former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; the Chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council; Catherine O’Regan and world-renowned psychologist Steven Pinker.

Related links

Watch previous Gifford Lectures online

The University of Edinburgh Gifford Lectures blog

Gifford Lectures

Professor Beard’s blog: A Don’s Life