I am a Research Fellow in Classics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. My research focuses on the poetics and politics of Greek poetry from the archaic period to the Hellenistic world.

I’m currently writing a book on the ‘pre-Alexandrian footnote’ and other markers of intertextuality in archaic and classical Greek literature. I explore how the earliest known Greek poets self-consciously acknowledged the familiarity of their subject matter and signalled their references to tradition – placing markers in their works for alert audiences to recognise. This kind of signposting is often considered the preserve of later literary cultures, closely linked with the development of libraries, literacy and writing. But I argue that these same devices were already deeply engrained in our earliest oral archaic Greek poetry.

My other major research interest lies in the field of Hellenistic poetry, where I’m especially interested in the fragments and traces of poetic traditions beyond Ptolemaic Alexandria. In particular, I’m currently studying Attalid and Seleucid poetic traditions, as well as Hellenistic epic fragments more generally.

As a student, I completed my PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge, supervised by Professor Richard Hunter; before that, I studied at the University of Oxford, completing both my BA and MSt at University College.

I’ve co-organised a number of conferences, including ‘Hellenistic Poetry Beyond Callimachean Aesthetics’ (September 2016), the Cambridge AHRC DTP’s Conference on Time and Temporality (September 2016), and the Cambridge Laurence Seminar on Collaboration and Ancient Literature (June 2020). For the 2019 CA/FIEC conference, I also organised a panel entitled ‘Poetics Between Greece and the Near East’ (July 2019).

Teaching materials for my undergraduates is available at http://www.thomas-j-nelson.co.uk/teaching.html.

I’m very open to any kind of collaborative research and happy to be contacted about any ideas for collaboration, however preliminary.


Higher Education


PhD in Classics
Trinity College, Cambridge. Supervisor: Professor Richard Hunter
Title: ‘Early Greek Indexicality: Markers of Allusion in Archaic Greek Poetry’
Examiners: Professor Felix Budelmann, Dr. Renaud Gagné

MSt in Greek & Latin Languages & Literature: Distinction
University College, Oxford. Supervisor: Professor Gregory Hutchinson

BA Literae Humaniores: Congratulatory First
University College, Oxford.

Select Academic Awards and Distinctions

Research Fellowship in Classics (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)

Fellow of the Advanced Seminar in the Humanities (Venice International University)

Fondation Hardt Bursary Award (Classical Association)

Graduate-Led Conference Grants from the Cambridge School of Arts and Humanities, the Cambridge Classics Faculty and the Classical Association

AHRC – Ibn Battutah Studentship Award, Faculty of Classics (Cambridge)

Gaisford Graduate Dissertation Prize for Greek and/or Latin Lang. & Lit. (Oxford)

AHRC Studentship Award, Faculty of Classics (Oxford)

Final Honour School of Literae Humaniores: Congratulatory 1st, top in the year (Oxford)
Harold Lister Sunderland Prize for best performance in Greek Lit. Papers (Oxford)

George Cawkwell Prize (University College)

Waddington Scholarship for the best Classicist in any one year (University College)

Honour Moderations in Classics: 1st, top in the year (Oxford)
1st de Paravicini Prize for performance in Latin Papers (Oxford)

Other Publications


(13) “Talk and Text: The Pre-Alexandrian Footnote from Homer to Theodectes”, in A. Kelly & H.L. Spelman (eds.) Texts and Intertexts in Archaic and Classical Greece, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press) [submitted, forthcoming]

(12) “Tragic Noise and Rhetorical Frigidity in Lycophron’s Alexandra”, Classical Quarterly (with K. Molesworth) [submitted, forthcoming]

(11) “The Poetics of Play in Hellenistic Epigram”, in S. Hayes & P. Martin (eds.) Trifling Matters: Nugatory Poetics and Comic Seriousness [submitted, forthcoming]

(10) “Early Hellenistic Epic” in M. Perale et al. (eds.) Early Hellenistic Poetry, Cambridge [submitted, forthcoming]

(9) “Moero of Byzantium” in M. Perale et al. (eds.) Early Hellenistic Poetry, Cambridge [submitted, forthcoming]

(8) “Beating the Galatians: Ideologies, Analogies and Allegories in Hellenistic Literature and Art”, in A. Coşkun (ed.) Galatian Victories and Other Studies into the Agency and Identity of the Galatians in the Hellenistic and Early-Roman Periods, Colloquia Antiqua, Leuven. [submitted, forthcoming]

(7) “The Coma Stratonices: Royal Hair Encomia and Ptolemaic-Seleucid Rivalry?”, in J.H. Klooster, M.A. Harder, R.F. Regtuit and G.C. Wakker (eds.) Women and Power in Hellenistic Poetry, Hellenistica Groningana, Leuven (Peeters) [submitted, forthcoming]

(6) “Metapoetic Manoeuvres Between Callimachus and Apollonius: A Response to Annette Harder”, Aevum Antiquum (2020) [submitted, forthcoming]

(5) “Attalid Aesthetics. The Pergamene ‘Baroque’ Reconsidered”, Journal of Hellenic Studies [submitted, forthcoming]

(4) “Nicander’s Hymn to Attalus: Pergamene Panegyric”, Cambridge Classical Journal [available since Nov 2019 on FirstView]

(3) “Penelopean Simaetha: A Flawed Paradigm of Femininity in Theocritus’ Second Idyll”, in C. Cusset, P. Belenfant and C.-E. Nardone (eds.)  Féminités hellénistiques: Voix, genre, représentations. Hellenistica Groningana 25. Leuven (Peeters): 387-405.

(2) “‘Most Musicall, Most Melancholy’: Avian Aesthetics of Lament in Greek and Roman Elegy”, Dictynna 16 (2019) 1-47.

(1) “The Shadow of Aristophanes: Hellenistic Poetry’s Reception of Comic Poetics”, in M.A. Harder, R.F. Regtuit and G.C. Wakker  (eds.) (2018) Drama and Performance in Hellenistic Poetry, Hellenistica Groningana 23, Leuven (Peeters): 225-271.


2019: R. Rawles (ed.), Simonides the Poet: Intertextuality and Reception (Cambridge, 2018). BMCR 2019.02.46.

2018: C. Tsagalis (ed.), Poetry in Fragments: Studies on the Hesiodic Coprus and its Afterlife (Berlin; Boston, 2017). BMCR 2018.07.33.

2018: D. Sider (ed.), Hellenistic Poetry. A Selection (Ann Arbor, 2017). Classical Review 68.1 (2018) 287.

2017: P. Linant de Bellefonds et al. (eds.), D’Alexandre à Auguste. Dynamiques de la création dans les arts visuels et la poésie (Rennes, 2015). Classical Review 67.1 (2017) 246-248.

2016: S. A. Stephens, Callimachus: The Hymns (Oxford and New York, 2015). Mnemosyne 69.6 (2016) 1070-1073

2016: P. J. Kosmin, The Land of the Elephant Kings. Space, Territory, and Ideology in the Seleucid Empire (Cambridge MA and London, 2014). Classical Review 66.1 (2016) 180-182.

Collaborative Dictionary Entries

— “Clôture, fermeture” in C. Urlacher & D. Meyer (eds.) Dictionnaire analytique de l’épigramme antique. [submitted]

— “Érudition” in C. Urlacher & D. Meyer (eds.) Dictionnaire analytique de l’épigramme antique. [submitted]

— “Équitation, Char/Horseriding, Chariot (Roman literature)” in J.-P. Guez et al. (eds.) Dictionnaire des images métapoétiques anciennes. [submitted]

— “Pas, Traces de pas/Steps, Footsteps (Greek and Roman literature)” in J.-P. Guez et al. (eds.) Dictionnaire des images métapoétiques anciennes. [submitted]

— “Vol, Larcin/Theft, Stealing (Greek and Roman literature)” in J.-P. Guez et al. (eds.) Dictionnaire des images métapoétiques anciennes. [submitted]

Select Papers Forthcoming or Delivered

2020: “Poets and their πρότεροι: Allusive Epigonality in Archaic Greek Poetry”, Arts of Allusion: Greek Intertextuality Over Time, Toronto, Canada, 11–12 Sep.

2020: “Locating Poetic Learning: Hellenistic Scholar-Poets Beyond Alexandria”, ‘Beyond the Birdcage: Hellenistic Scholarship and Learning Outside Alexandria’, 13th Celtic Conference in Classics, Lyon, France, 15–18 Jul.

2020: “The Poetics of Iteration: Greek Lyric Between Re-Performance and Intertextual Repetition”, Performing Texts, 6th Open Conference of the Network for the Study of Archaic and Classical Greek Song, Spetses, Greece, 1–5 Jul.

2020: “Homer, Hesiod and a Footnoting φασί”, CA Conference 2020, Swansea, 17–20 Apr.

2020: “Homer in his World: Palimpsestic Immersion in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo and Hermesianax’s Leontion”, Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree, ICS Seminar, 24 Feb.

2020: “Intertextual Impersonation in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo”, ‘Archaic Poetics of Identity’ Panel, 2020 SCS/AIA Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, 2–5 Jan.

2019: “Knowledge in Gilgameš”, Ancient Near East (ANE) Seminar, Cambridge, 22 Oct.

2019: “The Coma Stratonices: Hair Encomia, Queenly Power, and Ptolemaic-Seleucid Rivalry”, 14th Groningen Workshop on Hellenistic Poetry: Women and Power in Hellenistic Poetry, Groningen, Netherlands, 21–23 Aug.

2019: “Intertextual Agones in Archaic Greek Epic: Penelope vs. the Catalogue of Women”, CA / FIEC Conference 2019, London, 4–8 Jul.

2019: “Sweet and Shrill Songbirds: The Sounds of Lament in Graeco-Roman Elegy”, ‘Song, Lament, Love: Harking Back to the Sounds of Elegy’, 12th Celtic Conference in Classics, Coimbra, Portugal, 26–29 June

2019: “The Coma Stratonices: Hair Encomia, Queenly Power, and Ptolemaic-Seleucid Rivalry”, ‘Cherchez la femme: Women in Hellenistic History, Historiography and Reception’, 12th Celtic Conference in Classics, Coimbra, Portugal, 26–29 June

2019: “Intercultural Indexicality? Markers of Allusion Between Greece and the Near East”, Advanced Seminar in the Humanities, Venice International University, San Servolo, Venice, April 6th-13th

2019: “Scholarship and Learning in Hellenistic Poetry Outside Alexandria”, Hellenistic Scholarship and Learning Outside Alexandria, Università Ca’Foscari, Venice, April 5th

2019: “Repeating the Unrepeated: Homeric Hapax Legomena in Archaic and Classical Greek Poetry”, Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World XIII: Repetition, University of Texas at Austin, March 27th-31st

2019: “Nicander’s Hymn to Attalus: Pergamene Panegyric”, 2019 SCS/AIA Annual Meeting, San Diego, January 3rd-6th

​2018: “Talk and Text: The Pre-Alexandrian Footnote between Orality and Writing”, Text and Intertext in Early Greek Poetry, Christ’s College, Cambridge, September 3rd-4th

​2018: “Lyric Beyond the Canon: The Ithyphallic Hymn for Demetrius Poliorcetes”, Lyric Beyond Lyric, King’s College, London, May 24th

2017: “Horses for Courses: The Metapoetics of Horse- and Chariot-Riding in Roman Poetry”, Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar, Cambridge, November 3rd

2017: “Sweet and Sombre Songbirds: The Aesthetics of Lament in Graeco-Roman Elegy”, Classics Faculty Literary Seminar: Greek and Roman Elegy, October 18th

2017: “Penelopean Simaetha: Female Voice and Vision in Theocritus’ Second Idyll”, La féminité dans les arts hellénistiques: voix, genre, representations, Lyon, France, September 7th-9th

2017: “Symphonic Bestiaries: Poetic and Cultural Resonances in the Sounds of the Animal Kingdom”, 23rd CorHaLi Colloquium: Soundscapes of the Ancient Greek World, Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece, Nafplio, Greece, July 15th-18th

2016: “The Jewish Epic Fragments of Philo and Theodotus”, Being Jewish, Writing Greek Seminar, Cambridge, November 28th

2016: “Attalid Aesthetics. The Pergamene ‘Baroque’ Reconsidered”, Casting Off Shadows: Hellenistic Poetry Beyond Callimachean Aesthetics, Cambridge, September 2nd

2016: “Poetic Memory”, Retirement event for Martin Drury, Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood, June 21st [invited speaker alongside Alan Sommerstein]

2016: “Early Hellenistic Epic: A Reassessment”, Hellenistic Poetry Before Callimachus, Liverpool, June 14th

2016: “Pergamene Poetics of Praise: Attalid Fragments in Context”, Classical Association Conference 2016, Edinburgh, April 8th

2016: “Indices of Allusion in Early Greek Epic”, Edinburgh Classics Postgraduate Seminar Series, Edinburgh, January 28th

2015: “Masks and Mirrors: Poetic Self-Consciousness and Literary History in Attic Old Comedy and Hellenistic Poetry”, 12th Groningen Workshop on Hellenistic Poetry: Drama and Performance in Hellenistic Poetry, August 19th

2015: “Civilisation at what cost? Heracles and the Ambiguities of Progress in Hellenistic Poetry”, Progress in Ancient Literature, AMPAL 2015, Edinburgh, June 17th

2015: “How Old is the ‘Alexandrian Footnote’? Tradition and Self-Consciousness in the Homeric Epics”, Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar, Cambridge, January 23rd

2014: “What Happens When History Gets Intertextual? Echoes of the Herodotean Cyrus in Lucian’s Zeuxis and Polybius VII.15-18”, Graduate Interdisciplinary Seminar, Cambridge, October 31st

2014: “From Zero to Hero: Jason’s Redemption and the Evaluation of Apollonius’ Argonautica”, Failure in Ancient Literature, AMPAL 2014, Cambridge, September 7th

2014: “Alexandria Imagined: the Ptolemaic capital in Hellenistic Literature”, Egypt in Classical Literature Seminar, Oxford, June 19th

2014: “Ideologies of Galatian Victory: A Comparative Approach: Allegories and Analogies in Literature and Art”, Recent Work on Ancient Galatia Workshop, Waterloo, Canada, March 14th

2014: “Female rhetoric: Mica’s onslaught at Thesm.383-404”, Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae ‘Professorial’ Seminar, Oxford, February 3rd

2014: “How ‘Alexandrian’ is the ‘Alexandrian footnote’? Markers of Intertextuality in Hellenistic Poetry”, Metaphors of Intertextuality Seminar, Oxford, January 28th

2013: “To the City-Loving Fuscus: Horace Epistles 1.10”, Horace Epistles I ‘Professorial’ Seminar, Oxford, November 7th

2013: Respondent to A. Kirichenko, 11th Groningen Workshop on Hellenistic Poetry: Past and Present in Hellenistic Poetry, August 13th


  • Member of the Cambridge Philological Society

  • Member of the Classical Association

  • Member of the Society for Classical Studies

  • Member of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies

  • Member of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies

Thomas J. Nelson

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