Professor Richard Rutherford

Academic Background

I was an undergraduate and graduate student at Worcester College, Oxford, became Tutor in Greek and Latin Literature at Christ Church in 1982. Over the next four decades I taught a wide range of authors and subjects and lectured on Homer, Greek Tragedy, Thucydides, Plato (literary aspects), and others. I also regularly gave a lecture series on ‘Four Key Concepts for the Classicist’ and another on ‘Looking at Style’.  I valued the crossfertilisation between tutorial teaching, lecturing and publication, and many of my published works grew out of lectures. In recent years I have become increasingly fascinated by Herodotus.

I retired at the end of September 2023, and it will be a relief no longer to have to deal with the ever-growing demands of administration and bureaucracy. I continue to live in Oxford and hope to retain an active interest in classical scholarship and research while also broadening my reading beyond the bounds of the subject (vast though these are!).

Research Interests

Homeric epic tragedy; historiography; style, rhetoric and the poetic or literary use of language; irony and related concepts.

Research Keywords

Homer, Greek tragedy, Herodotus, Thucydides, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Tacitus.


Selected Publications


The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: a study (1989)

Homer, Odyssey 19 and 20, with introduction and commentary (1992)

The Art of Plato (1995)

Classical Literature: a concise history (2005)

Greek Tragic Style: form, language and interpretation (2012)

Homer, 2nd edn. (Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics no. 41, 2013; first edn 1996)

Homer, Iliad 18, with introduction and commentary (2018)

Articles (a selection):

'Tragic form and feeling in the Iliad ', JHS 102 (1982) 145 - 60.

'The philosophy of the Odyssey ', JHS 106 (1986) 145 – 62

'Learning from History: categories and case-histories', in Ritual, Finance, Politics: Athenian Democratic Accounts presented to David Lewis, edd. R. Osborne and S. Hornblower (Oxford 1994) 53-68

'Poetics and Literary Criticism', in The Cambridge Companion to Horace, ed. S. Harrison (Cambridge 2007) 248-61

'Voices of Resistance', in Ancient Historiography and its contexts: studies in honour of A.J. Woodman, ed. C.Kraus, J.Marincola, C.Pelling (Oxford 2010) 312-30.