Professor Valentina Arena

Valentina Arena is Professor of Ancient 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 begun in November 2020 and will run for five years. Another project that Valentina is currently involved in is the three-volume Cambridge History of Democracy for which she co-edits the ancient volume.

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; antiquarianism; research on classical Rhetoric; history of ideas and history of political thought; Cicero.

Current students: Sam Sigere on Felicitas; Tom Campbell-Moffat on Republican and imperial structures of power; Rebeca Vial Valdes on Pax; Greg Mansi on Sulla and Imperium; Jessica Clarke on Theatre and Roman Political Culture; Janet Kroll on Dictatorship. 

Recently completed: Edwin Shaw on Sallust, 2015; Lee Moore on Censorship, 2016; Elizabeth McKnight on the Rule of Law, 2018; Francesco Strocchi on Caesar and the so-called continuators, 2020; Terence Hayne on Polybius and the first Punic War (2021)

Major publications

  • V. Arena and J.R.W. Prag (eds.), A Companion to the Political Culture of the Roman Republic (New York-London, 2022)
  • V. Arena (ed.), Liberty: Ancient Ideas and Modern Perspectives (Routledge, 2020), previously published as 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).




  • Propaganda and Ideology in Ancient Rome, MA elective module
  • The Politics of Knowledge, MA elective module