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Prof. Peter Heslin



AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History105 38 North Bailey+44 (0) 191 33 41682
Member of the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture  
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies  


I specialize in Latin poetry and its reception, Roman art and topography, and digital humanities. Much of my work is linked by an interest in the cultural history of Roman reappropriations of Greek myth.

My first book, The Transvestite Achilles: Gender and Genre in the Achilleid of Statius (Cambridge University Press, 2005), is a study of an unfinished Latin epic poem narrating the early biography of Achilles, including an episode in which the hero was hidden from the Trojan War on the island of Scyros, cross-dressed as a girl.

My second monograph,The Museum of Augustus: The Temple of Apollo in Pompeii, the Portico of Philippus and Roman Poetry (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), posits a new methodology for understanding the intersection of Roman poetry and art, and introduces new techniques for reconstructing the appearance of Pompeiian wall paintings that were lost in the early years after their excavation. I conclude by explaining a series of famous ecphrases in Augustan poetry, especially Virgil's account of the temple of Juno in Cathage, as responses to a specific Roman monument and its decorative programme.

My third book, Propertius, Greek Myth, and Virgil: Rivalry, Allegory and Polemic (Oxford University Press, 2018) gives a new account of Propertius' peculiar manner of employing examples from Greek myth, which on the surface often seem inept or pointless. I argue that this appearance functions as part of his self-characterization as a feckless lover, but that close inspection reveals their intertextual point. Myth is a language in which Propertius engages in a dialogue with the Greek literary tradition and in polemics with his rivals, especially Virgil.

My interests Digital Humanities include computational linguistics, neural machine translation, deep learning applied to the study of manuscriptsand digital editing.

I am the developer of Diogenes, a widely used open-source software application for working with databases of Greek and Latin texts, which can be downloaded from its home page. There is also now a browser-based version for handheld devices, called DiogenesWeb.

My work on Pompeian painting brought me in 2010 to the J. Paul Getty Villa in Los Angeles as a Getty Scholar. In 2012, I was the inaugural Joan Palevsky Visiting Professor of Classics at the University of California at Los Angeles. My research has also been supported by grants from the Center for Hellenic Studies and the Loeb Classical Library Foundation.

Research interests

  • Latin poetry
  • Reception of Latin poetry
  • Roman painting
  • Humanities computing

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Classics and Ancient History: Latin poetry
  • Ancient literature: Latin poetry
  • Latin: Latin poetry
  • Classics and Ancient History: Humanities computing
  • Computer Science: Humanities computing


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Heslin, P.J. (2007). Diogenes, version 3.1.

Supervision students