A research project of the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology

Project Lead:     Fritz-Gregor Herrmann

Project Summary

This project aims to elucidate the nature, origins and developments of ideologies of the Ruler in the context of Near-Eastern and Mediterranean systems of rule, kingship and the power of élites from the Fourth Millennium BC to Late Antiquity, with a focus on Egypt, Greece and Rome. Ancient Egyptian kingship ideology had been established since the fourth millennium BC. The king was the political and religious figurehead; there was no separation of ‘state’ and ‘church’. The king was the only mediator between gods and mankind. Independently, the king in Archaic Greece as reflected in the Homeric epics stood at the top of the political hierarchy.Historically, Homeric ideals of kingship were supplanted by divergent philosophical ideas of leadership in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, in a hellenized world spanning from the pillars of Heracles in the West to Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean. But both the historiography of this period and in particular the practice of Macedonian kingship, especially with Alexander the Great, saw a continuation and revival of Homeric ideas on kingship, albeit over time with increasing Persian influences. With the foundation of Alexandria in 331 and the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Egypt became the cultural and intellectual centre of the ancient World. Alexandria was a melting pot for traditions and ideas of ancient Egypt, the Orient, and the Greek world. Under Ptolemy, first a general of Alexander and later as king his successor in Hellenistic Egypt, there was an amalgamation of all these strands with the Egyptian Pharaonic tradition, which continued until the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC. Through their reception in Rome, models of Hellenistic rule and kingship, Hellenistic philosophy, theory and practice, and not leat Alexandrian ideology became fundamental intellectual building blocks of a new world order as the Roman Republic transitioned into the Empire.

As part of this project the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology, KYKNOS, The Centre for Research on the Narrative Literatures of the Ancient World, and ‘Interpreting Egypt's Past in Wales and the World’ (InEPWW) invite PhD proposals that contribute to an integrated systematic study of ruler ideologies in Egypt, Greece and Rome.


Students will have a Supervisory Team consisting of a minimum of two eligible supervisors to provide academic, administrative and pastoral supervision and support. Supervisory teams will include: Joanne BerryIan GohFritz-Gregor HerrmannMark HumphriesErsin HusseinChristian KnoblauchNigel PollardMaria PretzlerIan RepathTroy Sagrillo, Kasia Szpakowska.


The project draws on the combined expertise of colleagues in the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology, and its research groups, KYKNOS, The Centre for Research on the Narrative Literatures of the Ancient World, and ‘Interpreting Egypt's Past in Wales and the World’ (InEPWW). The project aims to foster dialogue between the subject areas of Egyptology, Near-Eastern Studies, Greek and Hellenistic Studies, and Rome from the Early Republic to Late antiquity, on the one hand; and it requires the dialogue between the disciplines of Egyptology, Ancient History, Classics (as the study of the literatures and languages of Greece and Rome), Ancient Philosophy, and Archaeology.

The topic of ‘Ideologies of the Ruler in Antiquity (3000BCE to 500CE)’ is a natural development of the previously separate studies undertaken by colleagues in the Department (with further links to scholars now no longer at Swansea, such as Profs. Martina Minas-Nerpel and John Morgan), as evidenced i.a. by the publications listed below.


Relevant publications include:

Ian Goh

  • Scipionic Family History in the Roman Republic and Beyond, Bloomsbury, Londonforthcoming (2019), 50, 000 words

Stephen Harrison

  •  ‘Changing Spaces, Changing Behaviours: Achaemenid Spatial Features at the Court of Alexander the Great’, Journal of Ancient History, forthcoming; 12,000 words
  • Achaemenid Kingship, Alexander the Great, and the Early Seleucids; Monograph in preparation.

Fritz-Gregor Herrmann

  •  ‘Hat Kritias nach Spartas Pfeife getanzt’, in V. Pothou and A. Powell (eds.), Das Antike Sparta, Suttgart 2017, 134-155
  •  ‘Plato and Critias’, in J. Yvonneau (ed), La Muse au long couteau: Critias, de la création littéraire au terrorisme d’État, Bordeaux 2018, 83-115
  •  ‘Spartan echoes in Plato’s Republic’, in P. Cartledge and A. Powell (eds.), The Greek Superpower : Sparta in the self-definitions of Athenians, Swansea 2018, 185-214
  •  ‘Plato’s Phoinikika – a Royal Lie in Plato’s Republic’, in I. Repath and F.G. Herrmann (eds.), Some Organic Readings in Ancient Narrative, Groningen 2018 (forthcoming)

Mark Humphries

  • Emperors, Tyrants, and Kings: Civil War, Regional Politics, and the End of the Roman Empire, AD 200-500 (book contracted to Edinburgh University Press; delivery to press: spring 2019).
  • (2015) ‘Emperors, Usurpers, and the City of Rome: Performing Power from Diocletian to Theodosius’. In Johannes Wienand (Ed.), Contested Monarchy: Integrating the Roman Empire in the Fourth Century AD. (pp. 151-168). New York: OUP.
  • (2012) Valentinian III and the City of Rome (425-55): Patronage, Politics, Power. In Grig, L. & Kelly, G. (Ed.), Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity). (pp. 161-182). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • (2012) The Tyrant’s Mask? Images of Good and Bad Rule in Julian’s Letter to the Athenians. In N. Baker-Brian & S. Tougher (Ed.), Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian the Apostate. (pp. 75-90). Swansea: CPW.
  • (2008). From Usurper to Emperor: The Politics of Legitimation in the Age of Constantine. Journal of Late Antiquity 1(1), 82-100.

Ersin Hussein

  • Power and Identity in Roman Cyprus, Oxford University Press, forthcoming

Christian Knoblauch

  • Material Culture and Society: Abydos Assemblages from the Late Middle Kingdom until the Early New Kingdom, with Appendices by W. Grajetzki, A. Illin-Tomich, A. De Souza and D. McCormack, Contributions to the Archaeology of Nubia, Egypt and the Levant, Press of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (forthcoming)
  • “Rituals on the Move: The Transmission and Reception of Memphite Funerary Customs at Abydos in the Late Old Kingdom”, in E. Lange and M. De Meyer (eds), Beyond Memphis: The Transition from the Old Kingdom to the First Intermediate Period in Provincial Cemeteries, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, Peeters, Leuven
  • “The High Steward Neb-Ankh at Abydos and the Reconstruction of a Court Cemetery of the mid-13thDynasty”, To be submitted to Journal of Egyptian Archaeology

Nigel Pollard

  • (2013). Imperatores castra dedicaverunt: Security, army bases and military dispositions in later Roman Egypt (late third – fourth century AD). The Journal of Late Antiquity 6, 3-36.
  • (1998). Art, Benefaction and Elites in Roman Etruria. Papers of the British School at Rome 66, 57-70.

Ian Repath

  •  ‘Mistresses and Servant-women, and the Slavery and Mastery of Love in Heliodoros’, co-authored with John Morgan, in S. Panayotakis (ed.), Slaves and Masters in the Ancient Novel, Ancient Narrative Supplementum, Groningen: Barkhuis 2019 (forthcoming).

Troy Sagrillo

  • Sagrillo, Troy. (2017) King Djeḥuty-em-ḥat in Swansea: Three model scribal palettes in the collection of the Egypt Centre of Swansea University. In A true scribe of Abydos: Essays on first millennium Egypt in honour of Anthony Leahy.. (pp. 385-414). Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters.
  • Sagrillo, T. (2015) Shoshenq I and biblical Šîšaq: A philological defense of their traditional equation. In Peter J. James; Peter Gert van der Veen (Ed.), Solomon and Shishak: Current perspectives from archaeology, epigraphy, history and chronology. (pp. 61-81). Oxford: Archaeopress.
  • Sagrillo, T. (2012) Šîšaq’s army: 2 Chronicles 12:2–3 from an Egyptological perspective. In Gershon Galil, Ayelet Gilboa, Aren M. Maeir, Danʾel Kahn (Ed.), The ancient Near East in the 12th–10th Centuries BCE: Culture and history. (pp. 425-450). Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.
  • Sagrillo, T. (2012). The heart scarab of King Shoshenq III (Brooklyn Museum 61.10). Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 97, 240-246.
  •  Willems, Harco O., Op de Beeck, Annelies., Sagrillo, Troy Leiland., van Walsem, René. & Vereecken, Stefanie. (2007). Dayr al-Barshā. Volume 1: The rock tombs of Djehutinakht (No. 17K74/1), Khnumnakht (No. 17K74/2), and Iha (No. 17K74/3); with an essay on the history and nature of nomarchal rule in the early Middle Kingdom. Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters.

Kasia Szpakowska

  • "The Inscribed Clay Cobra Figurines of Abydos and Rituals for the Protection of Osiris." British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan (forthcoming; 2019).
  •  "Hidden Voices: Unveiling Women in Ancient Egypt." In A Companion to Women in the Ancient World, edited by S. L. James and S. Dillon, 25-38. Malden, MA; Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
  • "Clefs des songes et interprétation des rêves dans l’Égypte pharaonique." In Artémidore de Daldis et l'interprétation des rêves. Quatorze études., edited by C. Chandezon and J. DeBouchet, 345-71. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2014.
  • "Snake Cults and Military Life in New Kingdom Egypt." In Walls of the Prince: Egyptian Interactions with Southwest Asia in Antiquity. Essays in Honour of John S. Holladay Jr, edited by E. B. Banning, T. P. Harrison and S. Klassen, 274-91. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2015.
  • "Feet of Fury: Demon Warrior Dancers of the New Kingdom." In Rich and Great. Studies in Honour of Anthony J. Spalinger on the Occasion of his 70th Feast of Thoth, edited by R. Landgráfová and J. Mynářová, 313-23. Prague: Charles University in Prague, 2016.
  •  K., Szpakowska, A. D. Booth, E. Pischikova, and K. Griffin. "Structure of an Ancient Egyptian tomb inferred from GPR imaging of deflected overburden horizons." Archaeological Prospection 22 (2015): 33-44.


Research students past and present include:

  • Meharit Musie, The representation of Persians in the ancient Greek novel; supervisors: Ian Repath, Maria Pretzler
  • Felicitas Weber,  Diegetic Lists in the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’: A contextual analysis of demonic entities in private second millennium manuscripts; supervisors: Kasia Szpakowska, Troy Sagrillo;
  • Zuzanna Bennett (2013-2017) Demons in the Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts: An interpretative analysis of their function and behaviour; ; supervisors: Kasia Szpakowska, Troy Sagrillo
  • Brandi Hill, A Study of Royal Female Power and Political Influence in Ancient Egypt: Contextualizing Queenship in the Twelfth Dynasty; supervisors: Martina Minsa-Nerpel, Kasia Szpakowska
  • Izold Guegan, The Female Religious Practitioners in Old to Middle Kingdom Egypt; supervisors: Kasia Szpakowska, Troy Sagrillo; co-tutelle with Prof. Pierre Tallet, Sorbonne Institute, Paris)
  • Thomas Husøy, From Boeotia to Achaea: The evolution of federal ideology in Greek Antiquity; supervisors: Maria Pretzler, Mark Humphries
  • Alexander Ferron, Philosophical ideologies of leadership in Xenophon's Cyropaedia; supervisors: Maria Pretzler; Fritz-Gregor Herrmann