Department of Greek & Latin


Alan Griffiths

Roman mosaic I BC cat ducks

Senior Honorary Research Fellow

Email: a.griffiths@ucl.ac.uk
Research interests: Greek poetry and mythology; Greek painted pottery; Herodotos

After one postgraduate year at Cambridge, and another in Bonn, I joined UCL in 1966 and have spent my entire career here, with a welcome break teaching for one semester at Berkeley in 1988. In 2005 I retired to the Derbyshire Dales (where Winster still has two pubs left from the 24 it used to boast), but the internet allows me to continue putting my feet up on a 'virtual desk' in the Department.

My first research interests, stimulated by a study of the Odyssey as an undergraduate, were in the field of Hellenistic Poetry. This led to an ever-growing admiration for the two great masters of the period, Kallimachos and Theokritos. Since then I have accumulated new enthusiasms: in particular, Greek myth, Greek lyric poetry, Greek vase-painting, and the poetry of Catullus and Horace; on all of which I have published.

My main field of research, however, is the marvellous omnium gatherum literary monument of Herodotos. I have been confecting a commentary on Book Three for CUP over many years and the pre-final draft exists in sprawling torso form. Here an example; what kind of wine? (3.20).pdf

A longer-term project is a study of the author's compositional methods, both deliberate and unconscious, to be called Herodotos His Stories. Most of my published work on Herodotos has consisted of case studies in preparation for this.

Computers have fascinated and sometimes obsessed me ever since the epiphany of the tiny (1K memory) ZX-81 in the early eighties. My 15,000-item MySQL bibliographical database acts as a daily reminder of how much I have not read. All my work has been composed for several years with the aid of Don Knuth's superb TeX typesetting program, its LaTeX extension, and now XeLaTeX which handles the full range of unicode glyphs. I use the Rolls-Royce of operating systems, Linux (in its Ubuntu incarnation - see the distribution's home page). This entirely free OS makes the power of UNIX available to anyone with a modern PC, and should be more widely known and used. Peter Heslin's wonderful Diogenes program answers all my TLG queries.

When not glued to a screen, I may be found making sourdough, propping up the bar of The Old Bowling Green, anxiously following the uncertain progress of the Rams or (now that I no longer sail a six-metre off the west coast of Scotland) immersed in the works of Patrick O'Brian. 

Some Recent Publications:

  • 'Euenius the Negligent Nightwatchman (Herodotus 9.92-6)' in R Buxton (ed.), From Myth to Reason (Oxford 1999), 169-82.
  • 'Kissing Cousins: some curious cases of adjacent material in Herodotus', in N Luraghi (ed.), The Historian's Craft in the Age of Herodotus (Oxford 2001), 161-78.
  • 'Behind the Lines: the genesis of stories in Herodotus', in F Budelmann & P Michelakis (edd.), Homer, Tragedy and Beyond: Essays in honour of P E Easterling (London 2001), 75-88.
  • 'The Odes: Just where do you draw the line?', in A J Woodman & D Feeney (edd.), Tradition and Contexts in the Poetry of Horace (Cambridge 2002), 65-79.
  • 'Stories and story-telling in the Histories', in C Dewald & J Marincola (edd.), The Cambridge Companion to Herodotus (Cambridge 2006), 130-44.
  • 'Posidippus, Poet on a Roll', JHS 126 (2006), 141-4
  • 'Myth in History', in K Dowden & N Livingstone (edd.), Blackwell's Companion to Classical Mythology (Oxford 2011)