[Image: Roman Temple]
[Image: The Colosseum]

Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies



Poetry and the Olympics - ancient and modern


29 March


New Academic Building, Goldsmiths, University of London


Keynote reading by Jo Shapcott; illustrated talks by Armand D'Angour, Barbara Goff, Michael Simpson; readings by Blake Morrison, Joan Anim-Addo, Maura Dooley, Stephen Knight.

For programme and further details of the event, go to:


RSVP to m.macdonald(at)gold.ac.uk

Heroes and Games


11 June, 7pm


Italian Cultural Institute

39 Belgrave Square

London SW1X 8NX

Tel: 020 7235 1461


To coincide with the London Olympics 2012, acclaimed author, actor and theatre director Massimiliano Finazzer Flory presents a 70 minute theatrical performance themed around the classics, from Homer to Virgil, and reinterpreting the myth of the hero. 

A selection of key moments from three literary masterpieces - Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid - will be performed in a stage reading accompanied by contemporary dance, projections of relevant Roman art works and music especially composed by Dario Arcidiacono. There will also be a tribute to English Theatre in the form of a passage from Hamlet that recalls the Aeneid.

The performance is in Italian with surtitles.

Free entry.


Evening Event - Olympic Angles


14 June, 6.30pm


Cruciform Lecture Theatre 1, UCL


A panel of distinguished speakers will discuss and debate ancient sport and its modern receptions and reincarnations.  


Mark Golden: Star Events

Margaret Mountford: Cheats never prosper?

Edith Hall: The sensual allure of the discus

Michael Scott: Sweat, blood and flies: the real ancient Olympics

Bettany Hughes: tbc

The event will be followed by a wine reception.


Open to the Public





Ancient sports day for families


16 June, 11am - 4pm


The British Museum


A wide range of activities focusing on athletics and other sports in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. Families can meet gladiators and experience the thrill of gladiatorial combat, they can celebrate the ancient games at Olympia, marvel at statues of victorious athletes, listen to tales of heroic feats and create their own victory ode.

In collaboration with the Roman Society.


General public, especially families with children.

Suitable for all ages.

Free - just drop in; limited numbers for some activities.


Training, Cheating, Winning, Praising: Athletes and Shows in Papyri from Roman Egypt


20 June, 6-7.30pm followed by a reception


The British Academy


Three Short Public Lectures on the ‘Olympic’ tradition in Roman and Byzantine Egypt as revealed by new and old texts from Oxyrhynchus

The lectures

In the second and third centuries AD the cities of the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire developed a mania for grand public competitions in athletics, musical performance and chariot-racing. This exuberant tradition, which was explictly based on the original Olympic games and designed to proclaim the cultural Greekness of the competing cities, is best attested to us from documents on papyrus preserved in the detritus of the ancient cities of Oxyrhynchus and Hermopolis. To mark the London Olympics, a volume of new texts on this theme, ranging from literary works to a contract to throw a wrestling match, is being prepared for The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, published by the Egypt Exploration Society with the support of the British Academy and the AHRC. The lectures will present the most exciting of the new texts in the context of previous discoveries among the papyri.

The speakers

Christopher Carey, Professor of Greek at University College London, is an expert on the victory odes of Pindar:  Celebrations in the sand: victory songs and other texts from Oxyrhynchus

William J. Slater, emeritus Professor of Classics at McMaster University, Canada, is a scholar of Pindar turned auditor of the finances of ancient festivals and competitors:  Fame and especially fortune: the dark side of Olympia

Margaret Mountford, erstwhile corporate lawyer and adviser on The Apprentice, has just completed a PhD in papyrology at University College London including the edition of some Byzantine circus programmes:  The Oxyrhynchus papyri: because they’re worth it


Dominic Rathbone, Professor of Ancient History, King’s College London

Audience and Registration 

Open to the public; prior registration is required for this event at: www.britac.ac.uk/events/


Sport Across Ancient Cultures


23 June


British Museum


Please see the British Museum's website.


General Public


South West Wales Classical Association Olympics Day


28 July, 11am - 3.30pm


National Waterfront Museum, Swansea


11am: public talk by Dr Martin Polley (title tbc)

Events throughout the day will include mascot-designing, ancient Greek motto making, athletic contests and a quiz.