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Samuel Agbamu

Dr Samuel Agbamu

Areas of interest

I am a Classicist whose work foregrounds the Roman empire’s conception of itself and its Others, and how these dynamics of representation have been received in post-classical periods. My Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship project homes in on a particular moment in the development of such discourses of self and Otherness by looking at a fourteenth-century Latin epic about the Second Punic War: Petrarch’s Africa. I am currently writing a book for Bloomsbury Press’ Neo-Latin Studies series on the role of Petrarch’s Africa in reshaping and transmitting ideas about Africa and Africans, as well as empire and ‘nationality’, drawn from classical Latin literature.

I am also writing a book based on my PhD thesis which looks at modern Italy’s ideological use of the Roman empire during its colonial endeavours in Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

More generally, I am interested in ideas of ‘race’ in the ancient world, and the use of the ancient world in medieval, early modern, and modern ideologies of ‘race’ and nationhood.



‘Race’ in the Ancient Greek and Roman Worlds

Roman History: Late Republic 

Research centres and groups

Centre for the History of Racism and Anti-Racism in Modern Italy

New Signs of Antiquity: The Uses of Latin in the Public Culture of Italian Fascism, 1922-1943

Claiming the Classical

Awards and honours

2022-2025       Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.

2021-2022       British School at Rome, Rome Fellow (converted to Rome Award, April-June 2022).

2016-2019       AHRC Doctoral Studentship (London Arts and Humanities Partnership).

Selected publications

Peer-reviewed articles

  1. ‘Petrarch’s Sophonisba between Antiquity and Modernity’, Nordic Journal for Renaissance Studies, Special Issue on Sophonisba [accepted pending revisions, revisions submitted]
  2. ‘Smash the Thing: William Kentridge, Classical Antiquity, and his Refusal of Time in O Sentimental Machine’, Classical Receptions Journal, 14:2, 264–287. (2022)
  3. ‘Romanità and nostalgia: Italian travel writing in Libya and Tunisia, 1905-1912’, CompLit, 2, 145-167. (2021)
  4. ‘The Reception of Petrarch’s Africa in Fascist Italy’, International Journal of the Classical Tradition, online first. (2021)
  5. ‘Mare Nostrum: Italy and the Mediterranean of Ancient Rome in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries’, Fascism: Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies, 8:2, 250-274. (2019)
  6. ‘The Arco dei Fileni: A Fascist Reading of Sallust's Bellum Iugurthinum’, Classical Receptions Journal, 11:2, 157-177. Editor’s choice. (2019)

Peer-reviewed Book Chapters

  1. ‘“The Return of Rome”: Empire, Epic, and Twentieth-Century Italian Imperialism in Africa’, The Epic World, ed. Pamela Lothspeich (Routledge) [submitted]
  2. ‘“Biting the Hand that Feeds You”: Responding to Racialisation in UK Classics’, Diversity and the Study of Antiquity in Higher Education, ed. Daniel Libatique and Fiona McHardy (Routledge) [submitted]
  3. ‘Scipio Africanus and the Construction of Fascist Italian Masculinities’, Toxic Masculinity in the Ancient World, ed. Aven McMaster and Melanie Racette-Campbell (Edinburgh University Press) [submitted]
  4. ‘Petrarch’s Africa’, Classics and Race: A Historical Reader, ed. Sarah Derbew, Dan Orrells and Phiroze Vasunia (UCL Press) [submitted]
  5. ‘A Question of Sport? C.L.R. James, Greek Tragedy and Popular Culture’, Class and Classics. Trend in Classics – Supplementary Volumes, ed. Anna Maria Cimino et al. (De Gruyter) [submitted]

Peer-reviewed editions, translations, or commentaries

  1. ‘Arco dei Fileni, 1937, Giorgio Pasquali’, Fascist Latin Texts online database. Edition, translation, and commentary. (2022)


  1. David Withun, Co-Workers in the Kingdom of Culture: Classics and Cosmopolitanism in the Thought of W.E.B. Dubois. Times Literary Supplement. [forthcoming]
  2. Adam Lecznar, Dionysus after Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy in Twentieth-Century Literature and Thought. Rhea Classical Reviews. October 2021.
  3. Aristotle Kallis, The Third Rome: 1922– 1943, The Making of the Fascist Capital. Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 26:2, 234-236 (2021)
  4. Hans Lamers and Bettina Reitz-Joosse, The Codex Fori Mussolini: A Latin Text of Italian Fascism. Thersites, 10 (2019)
  5. Matthew Loar, Carolyn MacDonald and Dan-el Padilla Peralta (ed.), Rome, empire of plunder the dynamics of cultural appropriation, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2019.10.53
  6. Louise H. Pratt, C. Michael Sampson (ed.), Engaging Classical Texts in the Contemporary World: From Narratology to Reception. Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2019.07.03

Other publications

  1. ‘Classics and Italian Colonialism: An Outsider’s Perspective’, Italian Studies in Southern Africa, 35:1, 29-32 (2022)
  2. ‘The Sword of Ancient Rome. Classics, Colonialism, And Racism in Italy’, Centra: Centre for the History of Racism and Anti-Racism in Modern Italy: News (online) (2021)
  3. Mac Sweeney, N. et al. [including S. Agbamu]. ‘Claiming the Classical: The Greco-Roman World in Contemporary Political Discourse’, Council of University Classical Departments Bulletin, 48. (2019

Impact and public engagement

May 2022 : British School at Rome blogpost. ‘Rethinking Rome: Cityscapes of Empire, Ancient and Modern’

November 2021 : SCS blogpost. ‘Whose Aeneid? Imperialism, Fascism, and the Politics of Reception’.

July 2021 : Latin Work(ing Class)shop. Guest lecture on William Kentridge and Classics.

June 2021 : BBC Radio 4: Detoxifying the Classics with host Katherine Harloe. Contributor.

June 2020-ongoing : Sportula Europe blog.


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