Department of Greek & Latin


Maria Wyke

Professor of Latin

Maria Wyke

email: m.wyke@ucl.ac.uk external telephone: 020 7679 7491 (internal: 27491) consultation hours in spring term 2024: drop in Thursdays 13:00-13:45 or email to arrange an appointment on another day (either face to face or online via Teams or zoom).


Interests: Latin literature (especially Roman love poetry); ancient gender and sexuality; classical antiquity on film; classical reception studies (esp. classics and popular culture); ancient and modern civilisations.

Research supervision: I welcome phd students with interests in any of the above areas. Topics I have supervised include Sulpicia and her Reception; Greek myth & history on film; the divinity of Augustus in Roman poetry; translations of Ovid's Ars Amatoria in early modern England; Roman emotions and Ben-Hur in literature, on stage and on screen; Thermopylae in Hollywood cinema; the concept of the mirror in Graeco-Roman culture; the modern reception of the myth of Scylla; the reception of Julius Caesar from Tiberius to Trajan. I regularly co-supervise with colleagues in other departments, such as Archaeology, Anthropology, English and Film Studies. I also welcome visiting research students, and topics of visiting students I have supervised include Latin love poetry; Roman drama; Caesar's de bello Gallico; Roman warfare on film and television; the Ides of March in contemporary culture.


At undergraduate level, I teach Roman love poetry (which situates the poetic language of love in its specifically Roman historical context, and relates it to Roman attitudes to gender, sexuality, morality and politics) and Latin Poetry and its Translations (currently based on translations of Horace's Odes and covering English versions from the 1600s to the 21st century). I also teach an MA module on Ancient Rome on Film (from early experiments through to the modern blockbuster, we explore what distinguishes cinematic histories of Rome from other historical forms and why they matter). I also direct the core course for our MA degree in The Reception of the Classical World that considers the importance of Reception Studies for Classics, and investigates case studies of reception from within antiquity to the twenty-first century (from literature to political and intellectual thought, visual arts to museum exhibitions, theatre to film and television).

IRIS research profile

Research projects on screen media

(1) The AHRC-funded collaborative project Museum of Dreams (2023-26) seeks to establish a better understanding of both the modern reception of classical antiquity and the transnational history of silent cinema. It investigates how, thanks to cinema, classical antiquity was rendered a powerfully immersive democratic dreamworld while, thanks to classical antiquity, cinema laid claim to the status of an educative art - a 'museum of dreams'. The project will produce a systematic analysis of the 70+ silent film prints in the British National Film Archive (BFI) that engage with ancient Greece and Rome and, thereby, situate the UK firmly within the global network that produced, exhibited, and consumed the classical antiquity films of the early twentieth century. It will create an online resource that will include direct access to many digitised versions of these films and develop an important future use for them beyond academia and the archive, in cinemas, schools, heritage sites, and museums. Museum of Dreams (further information).

(2) Ancient Rome on Film makes a vital contribution to the field of popular receptions of classical culture. It explores how and why film constructs a richly imagined, immersive Roman world and investigates how millions worldwide have experienced that past world. I am currently completing a monograph on Ancient Rome in Silent Cinema for the University of Michigan Press. See further this short summary of related impact activity.

(3) Audio-Visual Romans, supported by the UCL Cities partnership Programme and in collaboration with Monika Woźniak of Sapienza (University of Rome), explores the imaginative power of modern audio/visual media to shape our perception of the past. For consumers across the globe, it is often in A/V media that they find their most personal and seemingly authentic experience of ancient Rome. The project’s first conference in 2018 was dedicated to Nero, the second conference in 2021 was dedicated to Julius Caesar. The conference in May 2022 concerned Audio-Visual Roman Women, and the conference of May 2023 continued the theme Audio-Visual Romans: Women Speak Up! The papers from those last two conferences are currently being prepared for an edited volume Ancient Roman Women in Screen Media and will be published by Bloomsbury.

Publications and Talks

Larger Publications

  • co-author with Monika Wozniak of Quo vadis. The Novel of Neronian Rome and its Multimedial Transformations (OUP, 2020)
  • co-author with Christopher Pelling of Twelve Voices from Greece and Rome: Ancient Ideas for Modern Times (OUP, 2014)
  • co-editor with Pantelis Michelakis of Antiquity in Silent Cinema (CUP, 2013)
  • Caesar in the USA (University of California Press, 2012)
  • co-editor with Luke Houghton of Perceptions of Horace: A Roman Poet and His Readers (2009)
  • Caesar: A Life in Western Culture (Granta, 2007; University of Chicago, 2008)
  • editor of Julius Caesar in Western Culture (Blackwell, 2006)
  • co-editor of Roman Bodies: From Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century, with Andrew Hopkins (BSR, 2005)
  • The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations (OUP, 2002)
  • co-editor of The Uses and Abuses of Antiquity, with Professor Michael Biddiss (Peter Lang, 1999)
  • editor of Parchments of Gender: Deciphering the Bodies of Antiquity (OUP, 1998)
  • editor of Gender and the Body in the Ancient Mediterranean (Blackwell, 1998)
  • Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema and History (Routledge, 1997)
  • co-editor of An Illusion of the Night: Women in Ancient Societies, with Leonie Archer and Susan Fischler (Macmillan Press, 1994)
  • ‘Glamour girls: Cleomania in mass culture’, in ed. M. M. Miles, Cleopatra: A Sphinx Revisited (University of California Press, 2011), 172-94;
  • ‘The pleasures and punishments of Roman error: Emperor Elagabalus at the court of early cinema’, in ed. Basil Duffallo, Roman Error: Transgressions and Receptions of Roman Antiquity (OUP 2017)
  • ‘From 1916 to the arrival of sound: The systematization, expressivity and self-reflection of the feature film’, in A Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome on Screen, ed. A. Pomeroy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017)
  • ‘Parola e immagine: fattori competitivi dell’adattamento nel lungometraggio Quo vadis (1913)’, in eds. M. Wozniak and E. Gagetti, Quo vadis. La prima opera transmediale. Atti del Convegno. (Academia Polacca delle Scienze, 2017)
  • 'Mobilizing Pompeii for Italian Silent Cinema', Classical Receptions Journal 2019


BBC World Service - The Forum, Who Was the Real Cleopatra? (2018)

Podcast on Rome and cinema in University of Exeter series The Distant Pasts: Adventures in an Alternative Antiquity (2016)

Caesar in the USA & Antiquity in Silent Cinema (2012)

BBC Radio 4, In Our Time

  • Greek and Roman Love Poetry: from the Greek poet Sappho and her erotic descriptions of romance to the love-hate poems of the Roman writer Catullus (2007).
  • Tacitus and the Decadence of Rome: the Roman historian Tacitus, whose portrayal of Roman decadence influences the way we see Rome today (2008).
  • Cleopatra: the Egyptian pharaoh whose charisma, intelligence and beauty made her one of the most celebrated rulers of the ancient world (2010)     
  • Julius Caesar: the life and reputation of Julius Caesar, one of the most intriguing figures of Roman history (2014).
  • Spartacus: a Roman gladiator who was involved in a series of slave uprisings against the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC (2014).
  • Nero: the life of Nero (37-68 AD) who became Emperor at the age of 16 (2019).
  • Catullus: the poetry of Catullus - some of the greatest verse of his time, and some of the most scurrilous - and his influence on Roman and later poetry (2020).
  • Ovid: the Roman poet whose influence is arguably greater than any poet of the classical age, besides Homer, even though his writing led to his exile (2021).

BBC Radio 3

  • The Essay - Greek and Latin Voices: The series focuses on the works of the major figures of Greek and Latin literature, philosophy, history and politics, including Thucydides, Euripides, Plato, Horace, Augustine, Tacitus, Juvenal, Cicero and Virgil.
  • British Museum lecture video: 'Desirability and Domination: Greek Sculpture and the Modern Male Body' (29 June 2011)

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