Visions of Utopia in Ancient Greece

lucas cranach

Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Golden Age

Generously supported by the OUP John Fell Fund, the Faculty of Classics Craven Committee, St John’s College, and University College, Oxford

This conference aims to explore how ancient Greek utopian texts resist and/or reconfirm various economies of repression, whether based on class, education, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and even mortality itself. It covers a wide range of texts and genres from the Archaic period through to late antiquity. 


Tuesday, 10 September 2024, 10 Merton Street Lecture Room, University College.

9-9.30 Arrival and refreshments

9.30-11: Session 1

Ruth Scodel (Michigan/UC Davis): Athens as tragic utopia?

Alexandra Hardwick (Oxford): Utopia, Limited? Flawed women’s utopias in Old Comedy and beyond

11-11.30: Tea/coffee

11.30-1: Session 2

Bill Allan (Oxford): Utopia now? Protagoras’ vision of the educated citizen

Jessica Lightfoot (Birmingham): Sympotic Utopias and the Edges of the Earth

1-2: Lunch (Butler Room)

2-3.30: Session 3

Julia Pfefferkorn (Trier): Is Social Ascent Possible in Plato’s Ideal Cities?

Jenny Bryan (Manchester): Where are the workers in Plato’s Republic?

3.30-4: Tea/coffee

4-5.30: Session 4

Christine Plastow (Open University): The ideal, unreal Athens of Attic oratory

Rosie Harman (UCL): The ideal state and imperial thinking in Xenophon's Cyropaedia

6.30 pm Pre-dinner drinks (Fellows’ Garden, or Butler Room if wet)

7.15pm Conference Dinner (Alington Room)

Wednesday, 11 September 2024, 10 Merton Street Lecture Room, University College.

9-9.30 Arrival and refreshments

9.30-11: Session 5

Jacqueline Klooster (Groningen): Gender and bucolic utopias: Theocritus and Anyte compared

Karen ní Mheallaigh (Johns Hopkins): Cosmic utopias?

11-11.30: Tea/coffee

11.30-1: Session 6

Lea Cantor (Cambridge): Aristotle’s ambiguous attitudes to ‘Asians’

Melissa Lane (Princeton): Philo on the life of Moses as a legislative utopia

1-2: Lunch (Butler Room)

2-3.30: Session 7

Calum Maciver (Edinburgh): The garden of Alcinous, the locus amoenus and late antique Greek poetry: utopian re-imaginings

Emily Kneebone (Nottingham): Bucolic utopias in imperial Greek epic

3.30-4: Tea/coffee

4-5.30: Session 8

Emma Greensmith (Oxford): Homeric Heaven, Christian Hell: Perverse Paradises in Early Christian Epic

Lea Niccolai (Cambridge): The emperor’s utopias: Julian’s (re)visions of Rome

5.30-6: Closing Remarks

The cost is £10 (including refreshments and lunch on both days). The conference dinner is £20 (three courses, including pre-dinner drinks and wine).

To register, please go to:

For further information, please contact the conference organisers:

Bill Allan (

Emma Greensmith (