Dr Robert Cowan


Institutional Affiliation:

The University of Sydney


Robert Cowan is Senior Lecturer in Classics at The University of Sydney, having held temporary posts at the Universities of Exeter and Bristol and Brasenose College, Oxford, and a Tutorial Fellowship at Balliol College, Oxford. My main teaching and research interests are in Latin poetry, though I also work extensively on Greek drama, Latin prose and Hellenistic poetry. I have published on a wide range of authors, with a particular focus on Roman epic and tragedy. I am particularly interested in the intersection between historicism and formalism, especially ecocriticism, kingship theory, narratology, and the politics of literary form.

Current research projects on modern monarchy:

  1. Cowan, Robert (in progress) ‘Horror uacui: the rise and fall of the weak king in the early principate’, in C. Mallan and E. Cowan (eds.) Making Sense of Monarchy.

Forthcoming, current or recent research publications on modern monarchy:

  1. Cowan, Robert (2022) ‘Fault on Both Sides: Constructive Destruction in Varius’ Thyestes’ forthcoming in E. Csapo, J.R. Green, B. Le Guen, E. Paillard, J. Stoop., P. Wilson. (Eds.), Theatre and Autocracy in the Ancient World (Paris: De Boccard).
  2. Cowan, Robert (2020) ‘A Brutal Hack: Tyranny, Rape and the Barbarism of Bad Poetry in Ovid’s Pyreneus Episode’, Antichthon 42: 80–102.
  3. Cowan, Robert (2020) ‘Not the Consular Year: Perverting Annalistic Time in Sallust’, Histos 14: 70–115.
  4. Cowan, Robert (2019) ‘Politics of City and Nation’, in Emily Wilson (ed.), A Cultural History of Tragedy in Antiquity (London: Bloomsbury) 101–116.
  5. Cowan, Robert (2018) ‘Sideshadowing Actium: Counterfactual History in Lollius’ naumachia (Horace Epistles18),’ Antichthon 42: 90–116.
  6. Cowan, Robert (2015) ‘On the weak king according to Vergil: Aeolus, Latinus and political allegoresis in the Aeneid’, Vergilius 61: 97–124.
  7. Cowan, Robert (2015) ‘240 BCE and All That: the Romanness of Republican Tragedy’, in George W. M. Harrison (ed.) Brill’s Companion to Roman Tragedy (Brill: Leiden), 63–89.
  8. Cowan, Robert (2011) ‘Lucan’s thunder-box: scatology, epic and satire in Suetonius’ Vita Lucani’, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 106: 301–313.
  9. Cowan, Robert (2011) ‘Hopefully surviving:
despair and the limits of devotio in Virgil and others’, Proceedings of the Virgil Society 27: 56–98.
  10. Cowan, Robert (2009) ‘Starring Nero as Nero: poetry, role-playing and identity in Juvenal 8. 215–21’, Mnemosyne 62: 76–89.







Dr Cindy McCreery
Department of History, A18 Brennan MacCallum Building, University of Sydney