Dr Bernardo Ballesteros Petrella

Academic Background

I was trained in Classical Philology at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and the Università di Pisa, before coming to Oxford for a DPhil in Classical Languages and Literature. During my doctorate I studied Akkadian and Sumerian at the Oriental Institute and taught Greek and Latin languages for Balliol College and the Classics Faculty. I then was a Postdoctoral Fellow at LMU Munich and Henri Frankfort Fellow at the Warburg Institute, London. I returned to Oxford in May 2020.

Research Interests

I am interested in the relations between early Greek and Near Eastern poetry, particularly epic and narrative texts. My doctoral thesis, which I am currently turning into a monograph, investigated aspects of the depiction of the gods in Sumero-Akkadian narratives and in Homer, Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns. The next project is a second book on how orality and writing affected poetic technique and audience expectations in archaic Greece and Babylonia.

I take a broad interest in comparing texts in several pre-modern cultures, particularly religious and mythological, following historical and literary approaches. I contribute to the Early Text Cultures research cluster, which I am chairing in 2021-2022

Research Keywords

Early Greek hexameter, Homer, Babylonian narrative poetry, comparative mythology and religion, orality and writing


Graduate seminar on Sophocles, Trachiniae (with Alex Johnston) in MT 2021. Teaching interests: Homer, early Greek hexameter poetry, archaic and classical Greek poetry and drama, Babylonian narrative poetry, late-Republican and Augustan Latin poetry.


Selected Publications:

The Divine Assembly. Comparative Studies in early Greek and Babylonian Narrative Poetry (Oxford) Classical Monographs: Oxford University Press) in preparation.

Writing Orality. Proceedings of the Early Text Cultures Seminar, Hilary Term 2021, Themed volume of Manuscript and Text Cultures (co-edited with D. Giordani, J. Miller, J. Parkhouse, F. Pischedda). Proposal accepted; open-access publication expected 2022

‘Relieving the Earth, destroying mankind: Greek, Babylonian, and Sanskrit perspectives’, in I. Calini (ed.) Déluges et autres destructions. Les récits de la fin dans la Méditerranée orientale ancienne. Kaïnon - Anthropologie de la pensée ancienne (Paris: Classiques Garnier) submitted

‘Destiny and agency in early Greek and Babylonian epic’, in A. Johnston and R. Van Hove (eds.), Divine and Human Agency in Ancient Greek Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) submitted

‘On Gilgamesh and Homer: Ishtar, Aphrodite and the meaning of a parallel’, The Classical Quarterly 71.1 (2021) 1–21

‘Fashioning Pandora: Near Eastern creation scenes and Hesiod’, in A. Kelly and C. Metcalf (eds.), Gods and Mortals in Early Greek and Near Eastern Mythology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2021), 262–75.

‘Poseidon and Zeus in the Iliad and the Odyssey: on a case of Homeric imitation’, Hermes: Zeitschrift für Klassische Philologie 148 (2020), 259–77.

Full list of Publications 2021