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Hellenism in the Roman Late Republic and the Augustan Period. Anchoring through Translation in Literary and Material Culture

Postdoc project (3 years, 1.0 fte), Leiden University
Anchoring Work Package 9: Late Roman Republic and Augustan Rome

Prof. dr. Antje Wessels

Salary range
Between € 3.821,- and € 5.230,- gross per month, depending on education and experience.

General project description
The final two centuries BC see dramatic changes in all domains (political, social, economic, material, cultural) of Roman (late) Republican society. This is a contingent process that will result in the formation of what we call Roman culture. The influx of foreign objects, ideas and peoples plays a defining role in this process of emerging identity that is characterized by many innovations. As a result, Roman culture anchors itself in the tradition of others. Previous discussions on this fascinating process of cultural formation have shown that we deal with very conscious and specific ways of Roman selection, appropriation and assimilation; a project of translation in which (the Greek and Hellenistic) Other was made into (the Roman) Self. This project will investigate the hypothesis that such processes of translation are examples of how Roman culture anchored itself in (the history of) the wider Hellenistic world and thus was able to develop from a regional player into a global superpower. Understanding translation as a broader social and cultural practice, this research project – which envisions two PhD candidates and one PD researcher – will analyse the material culture (PhD) and literature (PhD + PD) from such a perspective.

Postdoctoral project description
At the beginning of the first century BC, a group of young energetic poets took to the literary stage in Rome: the so-called poetae novi. Catullus, the only representative whose texts have been transmitted by and large in full, presents his own collection as ‘new’ (novus libellus); at the same time, he claims its innovative features to build on an earlier innovation, the alleged program of a Hellenistic ‘avantgarde’. What can this tell us about the status of Hellenistic poetry in the Roman Republic and its career as an ‘anchor’ in Augustan poetry?

The poetae novi – Catullus and poets such as Calvus, Cinna, and Furius Bibaculus – exerted great influence upon the next generation of poets, such as Virgil and Propertius. Their impact on Augustan poetry, however, is highly understudied. While the last few decades have seen a boom in studies on Callimachus and other Hellenistic poets, the poetae novi besides Catullus have not benefitted from much re-evaluation. The postdoctoral candidate will explore how the poetae novi contributed to translating Hellenism into an anchor of Augustan poetry.

Postdoctoral candidates are invited to design a structured proposal (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) around these questions. They are free to adopt a more literary or more historical perspective as they prefer. In their proposal, they should outline their suggested approach, main research question, and expected original contribution to the field. More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the website ( and in an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda”.

Host institution
The Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University is a unique international center for the advanced study of languages, cultures, arts, and societies worldwide, in their historical contexts from prehistory to the present. Our faculty is home to more than 6,000 students and 800 staff members. For more information see

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is one of the seven Research Institutes of the Faculty of Humanities. LUCAS is dedicated to ground-breaking research that explores the multifaceted relationships between the arts and society. For more information see

Terms and conditions
Postdoc position, 3 years (1,0 fte, 38 hrs per week) starting date to be agreed upon, with a preference for September 1, 2022. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 2 years on condition of a positive evaluation. Salary range (depending on education and experience) of a minimum of € 3.821,- and a maximum of € 5.230,- (salary scale 11) gross per month for full-time employment, (pay scale for postdoctoral researchers, in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities). This includes medical and pension benefits. If desired, the position may be held part-time and thereby extended in length.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information:

Tasks of the postdoc will include:

  • Completion of a monograph or, alternatively, at least three substantial articles within three years (1,0 fte) or three years and seven months (0,8 fte);
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in the training program of the local Leiden Graduate School and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS);
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Leiden Classics team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching (max. 20%);
  • Organization of at least one workshop.


  • A PhD in Classics (held by time of appointment);
  • An excellent research and publication record in relation to stage of career;
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Excellent competence in ancient Greek and Latin, and English, as well as reading competence in French, German and Italian;
  • Willingness to work with fragments;
  • A strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research;
  • Some organizational experience.

The Anchoring Innovation program is strongly committed to diversity within its team and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries about the position can be addressed to Prof. dr. Antje Wessels, Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort,

In order to be considered, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including list of publications and contact information of two referees;
  • Transcript of records (i.e. a list of BA and MA courses and grades);
  • Research proposal of 1500 words. Excluded are the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);
  • Copy of relevant diploma or statement by PhD supervisor confirming that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of appointment.

Please submit your complete application to Dr Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring program via before April 24, 2022. Interviews will take place in the week of May 30 – June 3, 2022 and will possibly be held online.