Classics > People > Academic Staff > Rhiannon Ash

Prof. Rhiannon Ash
MA DPhil Oxf, MA Toronto


Professor of Roman Historiography, Faculty of Classics
Fellow and Tutor, Merton College


Merton College

Tel No: (01865) 286302

Prof. Rhiannon Ash

Research Keywords:

Tacitus, Roman Historiography, Editor of Classical Quarterly

Research Interests:

My primary area of research is in Latin prose literature of the imperial era, above all the Roman historian Tacitus. My monograph, Ordering Anarchy: Armies and Leaders in Tacitus' Histories (London and Ann Arbor, Michigan 1999) explores the creative and subtle ways in which Tacitus characterises the four armies who participated in the explosive civil wars of 68-69, as well as considering his representation of the four emperors, Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian. This is a period uniquely rich in parallel sources: comparison with the biographies of Plutarch and Suetonius, and with the epitomised historical narrative of Cassius Dio enables us to see how Tacitus handles the historical tradition about a complex period and confronts in a balanced way biased sources who tended to favour the victor in the civil war, Vespasian.

In addition, I am interested in the ways in which the distinctive syntax and vocabulary of Tacitus' Latin contributes to his historical interpretation of events. I have been able to pursue this and other questions of interpretation in a detailed way in my commentary, Tacitus Histories II (Cambridge 2007). I think that it is important that Classics should be an accessible subject and to that end I co-authored a general handbook with Dr Alison Sharrock (Manchester University), Fifty Key Classical Authors (Routledge 2002). I am currently working on Oxford Readings in Tacitus and revising the Penguin translation of the Histories. I am also co-editor of the Classics journal, Classical Quarterly. My other areas of interest include ancient epistles, Greek and Roman biography, battle narratives, and Pliny the Elder, on which I have written various articles.

Selected Publications:

'Drip-Feed Invective: Pliny, Self-Fashioning, and the Regulus Letters', in The Author's Voice in Classical Antiquity, Marmodoro A, Hill J (eds.), (Oxford University Press 2013).

'Fractured Vision: Josephus and Tacitus on Triumph and Civil War, in Double Vision, Rees R, Madsen J (eds.), (Cambridge University Press 2012).

'Never Say Die! Assassinating Emperors in Suetonius Lives of the Caesars', in Fictional Lives. Ancient Biography and Fictionality, De Temmerman K, Demoen K (eds.), (Cambridge University Press 2012).

'War Came in Disarray...' (Thebaid 7.616): Statius and the Depiction of Battle, in Blackwell Companion to Statius, Newlands C, Dominik W (eds.), (Blackwell 2012).

'Women in Imperial Roman Literature', in A Companion to Women in the Ancient World, James S, Dillon S (eds.), (Blackwell 2012), 442-452.

Oxford Readings in Tacitus (edited volume), includes an introductory chapter by R. Ash, Ash R (ed.), (Oxford University Press 2012).

'Pliny the Elder's Attitude to Warfare', in Pliny the Elder Themes and Contexts, Gibson RK, Morello R (eds.), (Brill Academic Publisher 2011), 1-19.

'Fighting Talk: Dillius Vocula's Last Stand (Tacitus Histories 4.58)', in Stimmen der Geschichte: Funktionen von Reden in der antiken Historiographie, Pausch D (ed.), (De Gruyter 2010), 211-231.

'Rhoxolani Blues (Tacitus Histories 1.79): Virgil's Scythian Ethnography Revisited', in Latin historiography and poetry in the early empire, Miller JF, Woodman AJ (eds.), (Brill 2010), 141-154.

'Tarda Moles Ciuilis Belli: The Weight of the Past in Tacitus' Histories', in Citizens of discord: Rome and its Civil Wars, Breed BW, Damon C, Rossi A (eds.), (Oxford University Press 2010), 119-131.

'The Great Escape: Tacitus on the Mutiny of the Usipi (Agricola 28)',, in Ancient historiography and its contexts: Studies in Honour of A.J. Woodman, Kraus CS, Marincola J, Pelling CBR (eds.), (Oxford University Press 2010), 275-293.

'Fission and Fusion: Shifting Roman Identities in Tacitus' Histories', in The Cambridge Companion to Tacitus (Cambridge 2009), (Cambridge University Press 2009), 85-99.

Tacitus: The histories, Co-author: Tacitus C, Wellesley K, (Penguin 2009).