A with celloI teach Classics at Jesus College Oxford, and research the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. I also perform as a cellist, formerly my profession, and did so in my TEDx talk. My current work is on the sound of ancient Greek music, a topic that spans my interests in Classics, music, poetry, psychology — and innovation.

imagesI write a clog i.e. an intermittent blog;  posts are listed on the left.images

Hearing ancient Greek music

_60565028_ancientgreece304My current project is the investigation and reconstruction of ancient Greek music, as described in Song of the Sirens. I describe the research in a tantalising 4-minute taster film made for BBC TV, and more expansively in a recent interview with Greek Television (Jan 2017).


News 2017

21 Jan: Interview with veteran report Labis Tsirigotakis on Greek Channel ERT 1 for around 10 mins (on his programme ‘In the shadow of Big Ben’) available on this link.


13 Dec:   The first performance of a chorus from Euripides’ Orestes in the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, with three singers representing the chorus accompanied by aulos played by Barnaby Brown. Dr John Birchall writes:

Hearing the first musically convincing performance of Ancient Greek 
music is an indescribable privilege. You have the good fortune to 
have produced results of real significance.

imgres23 Jul:  Oxford has awarded me a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship 2016-17 to reconstruct and film a chorus of Euripidean music preserved on papyrus (left).

BritishMuseum16 Jul:  A unique research-driven performance of ancient Greek music in the magnificent Nereid Gallery in the British Museum. Performers from the UK and Europe played reconstructed double-pipes (auloi), flutes, and kitharas, captivating a 300-strong audience with sounds that date back thousands of years.

4 July: Keynote Lecture at King’s College London Conference: Sounds of the Hellenic World.

5 April:  Radio programme on the history of vegetarianism: Pythagoras and the basis of musical intervals, with a sung line of an Orphic Hymn at 22 mins 10.


Sep 2015: My TED lesson ‘The Ancient Origins of the Olympic Games’ imageshas been viewed over 500,000 times. (My TED ‘Eureka’ has been going since March 2015 – see below – and been accessed far more).

Aug 2015     On BBC WS Newshour I talk about the Homer’s Iliad.

The Deccan Herald, has published an article imgreson my research project.

Jul 2015    In memoriam Martin WestWest Lord Mallard

May 2015  BBC4 Sappho: I Sappho_Postcard_8_JPEGspeak at 26.30 mins about the music of Sappho’s songs.

Mar 2015    ArchimedesTEDed lesson Archimedes’ Eureka moment, has been viewed over 950,000 times.

A podcast of my talk on innovation at the Oxford Business School event (4 March) ‘Engaging with the Humanities’.

Feb 2015  LSE Literary Festival: with Fiona Sampson and Ian Bostridge (podcast here).


July 2014 BBC Online:    10 mysteries from ancient Greece.

GAN cover

Mar 2014  Great review of my book  in Classical Review: ‘erudite, eloquent and wholly engaging’.

BBC Online (Oct 2013)my project to_70644615_010083090-1
reconstruct ancient Greek music.

Radio interviews:
 1) CBC Canada: in which I hum the tune of the Iliad. 
 2) Newstalk Ireland (from 49.42 mins): Elvis and the Greeks.
 3) NPR USA with Scott Simon:(Dec ’13) singing Homer.

Daily Mail Online article (29 Oct 2013): ‘100% accurate’ is, of course, quoted out of context.


Dec 2013    TLS review by Prof. Helen Morales describes my Sappho 31 reconstruction as ‘bold and beautiful’. 

Oct 2013     Black tI translate into Latin a motto on a rock band T-shirt.

Aug 2013       Blackwell’s Bookshop interviews me about the Julio-Claudian dynasty, with questions about: 1) sources, 2)  the empire 3)  Claudius 4) Rome and 5) modern parallels.

imgresSarah_Palin_by_Gage_Skidmore_2 July 2013     My article Plato and Play in American Journal of Playspurred by a misattribution to Plato by Sarah Palin of the idea that ‘you can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation’.

GAN cover

Jan 2013    Review of my book in Bryn Mawr Classical Review: ‘dazzling…fascinating…not to be missed’.

Other activities

I’ve completed a book about creativity and innovation called Eureka, to be published by Princeton University Press. 

VenusMy article on restoring Sappho’s poem ‘He seems to me…’ (fr. 31) is summarised here.

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