Department of Greek & Latin


Housman Lectures

The Department of Greek and Latin at UCL organizes a Housman Lecture each year. These are delivered by a scholar of international distinction from outside London.


Born in Worcestershire in 1859, Alfred Edward Housman was a gifted classical scholar and poet. After studying in Oxford, Housman worked for ten years as a clerk, while publishing and writing scholarly articles on Horace, Propertius, Ovid, Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles. He gradually acquired such a high reputation that in 1892 he returned to the academic world as Professor of Classics at University College London (1892-1911) and then as Kennedy Professor of Latin at Trinity College, Cambridge (1911-1936). During his time as professor in the Department of Greek and Latin at UCL Housman produced some of his most important scholarly work (including his edition of Juvenal and the first volume of his Manilius) and published his first and best known collection of poetry, 'A Shropshire Lad' (1896). Housman's continuing reputation as a scholar and a poet is reflected in Tom Stoppard's 1997 play The Invention of Love, which includes a dramatisation of A.E. Housman's election to the chair of Latin in London.

Housman Lectures at UCL


Richard Armstrong (University of Houston): 'Homer the Balladeer: Francis Newman, William Maginn, and the Politics of Translation'.

Although the English language already possessed complete translations of Homer by Chapman, Ogilby, Hobbes, Pope and Cowper among others, nineteenth century Britain experienced a remarkable period of soul-searching concerning what form the English Homer needed to take. The paradigm shift in Homeric studies occasioned by such figures as Giambattista Vico and F. A. Wolf led some to champion the form of the English ballad, which was adopted by two translators in particular: Francis Newman (Professor of Latin at UCL 1846-1869) and the Irish Tory, William Maginn (1794-1842).  Newman’s translation of the Iliad was subjected to withering criticism in Mathew Arnold’s Oxford Lectures, On Translating Homer, itself a text far more commonly read than Newman’s translation, while Maginn’s work is mentioned politely though not treated in depth by Arnold. This lecture will provide a wider lens to view the cultural politics involved in the Newman-Arnold debate, while drawing Maginn out from behind Newman’s shadow as a very different kind of translator.  We shall address the contribution translation studies can make to the thriving methodologies of classical receptions and celebrate two brilliant if eccentric Londoners through their love of Homer.

  • 15 March 2023 5-7pm at Roberts Building G06 Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre
  • Tickets are available to book via Eventbrite


2022 Gregson Davis: ‘The reception of Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things in Aimé Césaire's Journal of a Homecoming’ (18 May 2022).

2021 Susan A. Stephens: ‘Jason and the Athletes’ (27 October 2021).

2020 Ellen Oliensis:The Trials of Latona in Ovid’s Metamorphoses’ (28 October 2020).

2019 Victoria Wohl: ‘The sleep of reason: the psyche and the subject in ancient Greece’ (22 May 2019).

2018 Bernard O'Donoghue: ‘Chosen Ancestors: Seamus Heaney and Virgil’ (14 March 2018).

2017 Judith Butler: ‘Kinship Trouble in The Bacchae’ (8 February 2017).

2016 Maurizio Bettini: ‘From market to metamorphosis. Cultural images of "translation" in Rome’ (23 February 2016).

2015 Leslie Kurke: ‘Pindar’s Material Imaginary: Dedication and Politics in Olympian 7’ (4 June 2015).

2014 Denis Feeney: ‘Ovid as a literary historian’ (20 March 2014).

2013 Eric Csapo: ‘The Dionysian Parade and the Poetics of Plenitude’ (20 February 2013).

2012 Stephen Hinds: ‘Displacing Persephone: Epic between Worlds.’

2009 Alessandro Barchiesi: ‘Ovid, Boccaccio, and the emergence of prose fiction’ (3 June 2009).

2009 Housman 150 Anniversary: UCL celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of AEH with an evening of talks. David Butterfield, Stephen Harrison, Peter Howarth and Norman Vance spoke about Housman’s life, scholarship, poetry and place in Victorian culture.

2007 Christopher Pelling: ‘The Grandstand that was Greece: Greek observers on Roman Civil Wars.’

2005 Pat Easterling: ‘Ancient Plays for Modern Minds?’ (14 June 2005).