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Dr Erica Bexley

Associate Professor

PhD (Cornell) MA, BA Hons (Melbourne)

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History204 38 North Bailey+44 (0) 191 33 41687


I am an Assistant Professor of Latin literature with a special interest in Roman drama – both tragedy and comedy – and in literature of the Neronian age. Educated in Australia and the U.S., I came to the U.K. in 2014, working briefly at Cambridge and then at Swansea before taking up my post at Durham in 2017. I have published a number of articles and book chapters on Senecan tragedy, Lucan’s Pharsalia, Plautus, Terence, and ancient Roman performance culture. My fascination for theatre first took root during my undergraduate days, when I participated in numerous amateur productions of classical plays, and although I no longer declaim (badly!) on stage, this early experience of theatrical performance still underpins my research. Specifically, my work on Roman comedy and tragedy is governed by the conviction that plays are not just texts but events, and that enactment is a crucial part of their meaning.

My first book, Seneca's Characters: Fictional Identities and Implied Human Selves, examines through the lens of Senecan tragedy fictional characters' vexed status as textually circumscribed entities on the one hand, and human analogues on the other. To what extent is a character a quasi-person and to what extent a literary figment? Are the two categories mutually exlcusive? My monograph tackles these questions via themes of coherence, exemplarity, physical appearance and autonomy.

Following on from this work, my next major project examines the intersection of personal and governmental sovereignty in Seneca's oeuvre. I am particularly interested in how Seneca's presents the underived supreme power of the Stoic sage as parallel to the tyrant's unfettered autocracy. I am, in addition, editing with my colleague Dr Ioannis Ziogas a volume of essays on Roman Law and Latin Literature, derived from a conference we hosted in Durham in September 2019.

Future projects include a Bloomsbury companion volume on the pseudo-Senecan Octavia (under contract), and a monograph on repetition, substiution and doubling in Roman drama, from Plautus to pseudo-Seneca.

I welcome enquiries from any students wishing to pursue further study in the field of Latin literature.


I am available to speak at schools on the following topics:

a) Theatre and Spectacle in Ancient Rome

b) Seneca: Philosopher, Tragedian, Statesman

c) Neronian Rome: literature, culture, history

d) Ancient Roman Comedy: Plautus and Terence

NB: These topics can also be adapted and made more specific as needed.

Research interests

  • Seneca
  • Lucan
  • Roman Tragedy
  • Roman Comedy
  • Neronian Rome
  • Stoic Philosophy
  • Performance Theory (Ancient and Modern)


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