Thorsten Fögen

Classics, Durham
Fellowship: 01.10.16–30.06.17


Thorsten Fögen is Reader (Associate Professor) at Durham University (UK). He studied Classics and General Linguistics at the Universities of Freiburg, Oxford and Heidelberg. Ph.D. in 2000 (University of Heidelberg), »Habilitation« during Winter Term 2008/09 (Humboldt University of Berlin). He is the author of »›Patrii sermonis egestas‹: Einstellungen lateinischer Autoren zu ihrer Muttersprache« (Munich & Leipzig 2000) and of »Wissen, Kommunikation und Selbstdarstellung: Zur Struktur und Charakteristik römischer Fachtexte der frühen Kaiserzeit« (Munich 2009). He has edited seven volumes, most recently »Tears in the Graeco-Roman World« (Berlin & New York 2009) and »Bodies and Boundaries in Graeco-Roman Antiquity« (Berlin & New York 2009). He is currently editing a book on »Interactions between Animals and Humans in Graeco-Roman Antiquity« (to appear in 2017). 


Fields of Research

  • Latin literature from the Late Republic until the Early/Middle Empire (first century B.C. – second/third century A.D.)
  • Ancient technical texts
  • History of science and scholarship
  • Ancient epistolography
  • Animals in antiquity
  • History of linguistic ideas
  • Rhetoric
  • Literary criticism


Project outline

Biography, exemplarity and authority: On the construction of lives in ancient technical literature


This project deals with the construction of biographies in ancient technical literature. The focus will be on select Greek and Roman authors from the fifth century B.C. until the second century A.D. »Biography« is here understood not only as a straightforward presentation of the life of a particular individual, but also as a complex socio-cultural construct which is the product of a specific agenda. Ancient technical writers do not simply transmit knowledge, they also use specific rhetorical strategies to stylise themselves as authorities in their disciplines, often providing details about their lives, personal experiences and maxims. This may also include references to political issues and ethical considerations. At the same time, their works repeatedly incorporate biographical details concerning other individuals such as fellow scholars (from the past and the present) or prominent political figures (esp. emperors). It will be analysed what the concrete functions of such biographical passages in ancient technical texts are.


Publications (Selection)


  • »Patrii sermonis egestas«: Einstellungen lateinischer Autoren zu ihrer Muttersprache (München & Leipzig 2000).
  • Wissen, Kommunikation und Selbstdarstellung. Zur Struktur und Charakteristik römischer Fachtexte der frühen Kaiserzeit (München 2009).


Edited volumes (selection)

  • Antike Fachtexte – Ancient Technical Texts (Berlin & New York 2005).
  • Tears in the Graeco-Roman World (Berlin & New York 2009).
  • Together with Mireille M. Lee: Bodies and Boundaries in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (Berlin & New York 2009).