Michael Squire

Classical Greek Art, London
Fellowship: 01.04.2014–31.03.2015; 15.04.–15.07.2020


Michael Squire is a Classicist and art historian, with a particular interest in the interactions between literary and visual cultures. His books include »Panorama of the Classical World« (2nd ed. 2008 = Die Welt der Antike, 2004), »Image and Text in Graeco-Roman Antiquity« (2009), »The Iliad in a Nutshell: Visualizing Epic on the Tabulae Iliacae« (2011) and »The Art of the Body: Antiquity and its Legacy« (2011). Michael has held fellowships at Christ’s College in Cambridge, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Harvard University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin; he was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2012 for his research in Classics and art history. Since 2011, Michael Squire has been based at King’s College London, where he is Lecturer in Classical Greek Art within the Department of Classics.


Fields of Research

  • Classical archaeology
  • Classical philology
  • Art history
  • Aesthetics
  • Ecphrasis
  • Classical tradition
  • Early Christian art
  • History of the body


Project outline

Contrasting and complementary figures for portraiture and biography: Portraying and writing the Roman Emperor Constantine

My proposed research explores the portraiture and biography of one particular – and particularly ‘special’ – figure: those of Constantine, Roman Emperor between AD 306 and 337. Constantine’s earliest and most famous biographer, Eusebius, began his Greek Life of Constantine by drawing explicit attention to the parallels between writing about the emperor and forging a mimetic portrait of his likeness. Probably writing in the late AD 330s, Eusebius opens his work by explaining that, for all the difficulties of treating so great a subject, it is ‘nonetheless necessary to model oneself on the human painter, and dedicate an image of words in memory of the God-beloved’. It is clear that the idea of biography as visual sketch informed Eusebius’ own verbal constructions of Constantine’s biography. What particularly interests me, though, is the reverse hypothesis: using Constantine as my particular case study, in what way might visual portraiture itself work as a sort of ‘biography’? What does the pictorial rendering of a portrait share with a narrative sketch of life history? And how might these analogies – and differences – help inform a cultural historical understanding of ideas about visual and verbal representation at large?

Publications (Selection)

  • Image and Text in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, 2009; revised paperback edition forthcoming).
  • The Art of the Body: Antiquity and its Legacy (Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • The Iliad in a Nutshell: Visualizing Epic on the Tabulae Iliacae (Oxford University Press, 2011).
  • Panorama of the Classical World (with N. Spivey) (Thames & Hudston; second edition, 2008).
  • (ed.) The Senses in Greek and Roman Antiquity. Volume Three: Sight. (Acumen, Forthcoming 2015).
  • (with J. Elsner) Vision and Invisibility in the Imagines of the Elder Philostratus (to be submitted to Cambridge University Press).
  • (with V. Platt) (eds.) The Art of Art History in Graeco-Roman Antiquity ( = Arethusa 43.2).