Sir Ronald Syme Memorial Lectures

A memorial lecture fund commemorates the career of Sir Ronald Syme OM, perhaps the greatest classical scholar New Zealand has ever produced.

Sir Ronald Syme black and white head shot

He began his studies in Classics at Victoria University of Wellington and went on to become Camden Professor of Ancient History at the University of Oxford.

Sir Ronald died in 1989, a few days before the 50th anniversary of the appearance of his famous book The Roman Revolution. He left a small bequest to the Classics Department of Victoria University of Wellington, which, together with contributions from a number of benefactors, now funds an invitation to a prominent international scholar to give a public lecture in Wellington every few years.

The most recent Sir Ronald Syme Memorial Lecture was held on Thursday, 8 June 2023.

Previous lectures


Greg Woolf, Ronald J. Mellor Distinguished Professor of Ancient History (California)Rome Unbound! How the Republican elite won the world and lost control of their culture


John Marincola, Leon Golden Professor of Classics (Florida State)

Asinius Pollio and the Roman Revolution


Nicholas Purcell, Camden Professor of Ancient History (Oxford)

The Princess and the Procurator


Thomas Habinek (Southern California)

Cynthia's Bones: Authorship and Personhood in Classical Rome


Richard de Puma (Iowa)

Etruscan Forgeries: The Arts of Profit and Deceit


Robin Seager (Liverpool)

The Domination of Pompeius


Kathleen Coleman (Harvard)

Orchestrated Violence: the Role of Music in the Roman Amphitheatre


Dennis Feeney (Princeton)

Virgil’s Tale of Four Cities: Troy, Carthage, Alexandria and Rome


Mary Beard (Cambridge)

A Captive Audience: Victims and Prisomers at the Roman Triumph


A.J. Woodman (Durham)

Tiberius and the Taste of Power: The Year 33 in Tacitus


Werner Eck (Köln)

Roma Caput Mundi


Tim Parkin (Canterbury)

Letting Nature Take Its Course: The Health of the Elderly in Antiquity


Froma I. Zeitlin (Princeton)

Counting the Votes: Politics, Myth, and Utopia in Aristophanes


T. Peter Wiseman (Exeter)

The Poet, the Plebs, and the Chorus Girls


Erich Gruen (Berkeley)

The Roman Oligarchy: Image and Perception


John Matthews (Queen’s College, Oxford)

Constantine and the Second Roman Revolution