Personal profile

Research interests

Research Interests

I am a Senior Lecturer in Classics, and Director of the Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition at Bristol. I serve as a member on the Council of the Roman Society.

I am a specialist in Roman historiography of the empire. My work on Tacitus has been influential in producing new ways of interpreting the political vision mediated by Tacitus’ distinctive prose style. My recent book on Tacitus’ history of politically effective speech pursues his political vision of regime changes, and the possibilities available for imperial subjects to address the conditions under which they live. From 2019-2021 I worked with Aske Damtoft Poulsen (Carlsberg Foundation postdoctoral fellow) on his project ‘Peace and the Principate’. 

Related publications 

‘Shifting ground: Lucan, Tacitus, and the landscape of civil war’ Hermathena 1995

Irony and Misreading in the Annals of Tacitus, Cambridge 2000.

‘Alternative empires: Tacitus’ virtual history of the Pisonian Principate’ Arethusa 2006.

‘The politics of Sallustian style’ Blackwell Companion to Greek and Roman Historiography 2007

‘Imperial History and Biography in Rome’ Oxford History of Historical Writing 2011.

Tacitus' History of Politically Effective Speech, London 2020.

‘Conspicuous Absence: Tacitus’ de RepublicaUnspoken Rome 2021.

'Tacitus' Oxford Classical Dictionary 2022.

'Embedded Speech and the Embodied Speaker in Roman Historiography' Histos 17 (2023) 1-42:

I am committed to pursuing the study of ancient texts and culture through deep engagement with theories of representation, politics, and the self. I have published a number of works on psychoanalytical approaches to antiquity, and on the historiographical consequences of the theory of intertextuality. I am co-organiser of the interdisciplinary research group on Rancière and the Classics. I am the Roman comparatist participant in the Israel Institute for Advance Studies project on Chinese Imperial Historiography.

Related publications

‘Cato the Elder and the Destruction of Carthage’ Helios 2004.

‘Intertextuality, Time, and Historical Understanding’ The Philosophy of History 2007.

‘Intertextuality and Historiography’ Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians 2008.

‘History as Group Fantasy’ Cultural Critique 2010.

‘Repetition and Exemplarity: Ancient Rome and the ghosts of modernity’ The Western Time of Ancient Historiography 2011.

With Vanda Zajko, Classical Myth and Psychoanalysis: Ancient and Modern Stories of the Self, Oxford 2013.

‘Intertextuality, Ideology, and Truth: Re-reading Kristeva through Roman historiography’ Histos 2014.

‘A Barbarian is being spoken’ Les opera minora et le développement de l'historiographie tacitéenne 2014.

‘The Noise and the People: popular clamor and political discourse in Latin historiography’ Compex Inferiorities: the poetics of the weaker voice in Latin literature, Oxford 2018

'Imagined Ancestors: the stories Roman History tells about itself' Ancestors, Aristocracy, and the Writing of History in Early China: Zuo zhuan in Context forthcoming.

I have written extensively on Latin literature, and on the reception of ancient historiography in fiction, satire, and political thought. I welcome prospective graduate students who wish to work on ancient historiography, on representations of Roman subject experience in the Principate, or on political thought in antiquity and modernity.

Related publications

‘Detective Fiction and Historical Narrative’ Greece & Rome 1999.

‘Archaism and Historicism in Horace’s OdesClio and the poets: Augustan poetry and the traditions of ancient historiography 2002.

‘Decadence and Historical Understanding in Flaubert’s SalammbôNew Literary History 2004.

‘Beyond recognition: twin narratives in Statius’ ThebaidRethymnon Classical Journal 2005.

‘Citation and authority in Seneca’s ApocolocyntosisCambridge Companion to Roman Satire 2005.

With Duncan Kennedy ‘Claudius in the Library’ Robert Graves and the Classics 2015.

‘Thucydides and his ‘contemporaries’’ Handbook to the reception of Thucydides 2015.


Room 2.33, 11 Woodland Road.

(0117) 4551139

Research supervision

Previous PhD and MPhil supervision topics

  • Dryden’s translation of the Aeneid
  • Character in Horace
  • Ideology in Tacitus’ Agricola 
  • Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy
  • Multiplicity and the Military in Lucan’s De Bello Civili 
  • Emotions and the Crowd in Thucydides
  • Médée, Clytemnestre and Phèdre in 17th Century French Tragedy
  • Framing Latin Antiquity in Contemporary Historical Fiction

I welcome research applications in

  • Ancient historiography of all periods
  • Post-Augustan literature, poetry and prose, especially concerned with representations of imperial subject experience
  • Roman political thought and its reception


I will be on research leave in the second half of the academic year 2022-23. In other years, I have a wide range of teaching interests across ancient language, literature, and culture, and currently run the following units as unit director:

  • Roman Emperors: A Survival Guide
  • Roman Imperial Culture
  • Latin Language Level B (Livy on Class Conflict, Cicero on speaking to autocrats, Seneca and Suetonius on the Emperor Claudius)
  • Latin Language Level C (Neronian Rome in dramatic and historical texts)
  • Latin Language Level D (Alienation: Sallust and Tacitus and the edges of the Roman world)


Dive into the research topics where Ellen C. O'Gorman is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles