Dr Valentina Arena

Valentina Arena is Reader in Roman History. Her work focuses mainly on the history of ancient ideas and ancient political thought as well as the wider intellectual landscape of the Roman Republic, with a particular interest in the fields of Roman oratory and antiquarianism. In her work on Roman liberty, she has investigated ancient theories of liberty and how they relate to their intellectual and political contexts as well as their potential contributions to contemporary political debates. She is also interested in antiquarianism, with a particular focus on Varro, ancient philosophy of language, and Roman constitutionalism. She has been a member of several international research projects covering a wide range of subjects, such as, for example, popular sovereignty, cultures of voting and voting practices, and Roman trials. Most recently, Valentina has been awarded funding from the European Research Council (ERC) for her project "Ordering, Constructing, Empowering: Fragments of the Roman Republican Antiquarians"; the project will begin in September 2020 and run for five years. 

In the past, Valentina also worked at the British Museum Department of Coins and Medals, with which she maintains close links.

PhD supervision

Valentina can offer research supervision in most areas of the history of the Roman Republic, as well as in the broader area of the history of ancient political thought. She will consider Roman topics for PhD supervision or co-supervision, and would particularly welcome prospective students in the following areas: religious, political and cultural history; research on classical Rhetoric; history of ideas and history of political thought; Cicero.

Current students: Francesco Strocchi (Caesar and the so-called continuators); Janet Kroll (tyranny and Dionysus of Helicarnassus); Sam Sigere (Felicitas); Tom Campbell-Moffat (Republican and imperial structures of power); Terence Hayne (Polybius and the first Punic War)

Recently completed: Recently completed dissertations include Edwin Shaw (Sallust), 2015; Lee Moore (Censorship), 2016; Elizabeth McKnight, the Rule of Law (2018)

Major publications

  • V. Arena (ed.), Liberty: an Ancient Idea for the Contemporary World? Ancient Liberties and Modern Perspectives, special issue of the Journal of History of European Ideas 44.8 (2018)
  • V. Arena and G. Piras (eds), Reconstructing the Republic: Varro and Imperial Authors, special issue of Res Publica Litterarum 39 (2018)
  • V. Arena and F. Mac Góráin (eds), Varronian Moments, special issue of the Bulletin of Classical Studies (2017)
  • V. Arena, Libertas and the Practice of Politics in the Late Roman Republic (Cambridge, 2012)

For a full list of publications, see Valentina's Iris profile.

Media appearances

Often consulted by TV and print media outlets, Valentina has contributed to BBC History Magazine and has recently appeared on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time, discussing Cicero (January 2018).


  • The Intellectual Landscape of the Late Roman Republic, undergraduate special subject
  • Power, Rights and Liberty: Roman Constitutionalism, undergraduate research seminar
  • Propaganda and Ideology in Ancient Rome, MA elective module
  • Roman Republic, undergraduate survey module
  • Roman Democracy: Myth or Reality?, undergraduate thematic module