a translated text

Translating Ancient Drama

The APGRD ‘Translating Ancient Drama’ project explores the essential role played by translation in the reception of ancient comedy and tragedy. The central aim of the APGRD 'Translating Ancient Drama' project is to research the circulation of ancient dramatic texts through different times, linguistic areas and cultures.

The project augments and supplements the APGRD’s performance database by including translations of ancient plays into a number of European vernacular languages. The information provided proves an invaluable tool for researchers working in a wide range of disciplines, including Modern Literary Studies, Linguistics, Comparative Literature, Classics, Theatre Studies, History of Scholarship, History of Ideas and History of the Book. It equally enables examination of parallels and differences in the patterns of the reception of the ancient texts across time and place, including geographical areas beyond Europe through the presence of these vernaculars in the former colonies. At the same time, it also permits analysis of cross-cultural exchanges, whether by conscious appropriation, shameless recycling and/or literary piracy of translations in other European vernaculars.

The APGRD’s ‘Translating Ancient Drama’ project also hosts seminar series and events, which bring academics of classical reception and translation studies alongside playwrights as well as scholar-translators for the stage. They are thus able to share and foster reflection on the variety of translation practices and the art of translating for the stage.

Digital developments

French Translations of Ancient Drama

The APGRD began working in 2011 on translations of ancient plays into French, with the generous support of the Mellon Foundation and the University of Oxford's John Fell Fund. The new searchable online database of French translations, which is hosted within the APGRD performance database, records the interconnections between performance reception and the translation of theatrical scripts. Entries provide information about translators and publication histories, and give links to editions of the translations whenever they are available online. The data is also cross-referenced with the existing performance database, indicating when and how a particular translation was performed. This tool provides an unprecedented way of following the history of translation in conjunction with performance history.

Early Modern digital library

The ‘Translating Ancient Greek Drama in the Early Modern Period’ project also includes the creation of an early modern digital library, which was started in 2019 by Giovanna Di Martino (UCL) and Giulia Fiore (University of Bologna): the aim is to create a digital collection of early modern drama and translation both in Latin and the vernaculars, hosted by the APGRD database. The early modern library, currently under construction, has been cataloguing, curating, and preserving archival material donated to the APGRD research collection (most importantly, Peter Brown’s donations); editing the data relating to early modern productions in the online ‘productions database’; collecting data on early modern translations and creating entries in the ‘translations database’; creating new data entries inter-linking the translations database with the ‘productions database’, when the translation was performed. The early modern digital library aims at cataloguing translations, performances and adaptations of both Greek and Roman drama dated between the 15th- and the beginning of the 18th-centuries.

Translating Greek Drama in the Early Modern Period

The ‘Translating Ancient Greek Drama in the Early Modern Period’ research strand began in 2018 with Giovanna Di Martino (UCL) and Cécile Dudouyt (Paris 13), and aims at understanding the early modern reception of ancient drama from a cross-cultural, multilingual, and transnational perspective.

Translation theory and practice in the early modern period have been at the core of a series of events held in Oxford and Paris. The first two conferences, which took place in 2018 (link) and 2019 (link), brought together researchers focussing respectively on translation practices and theories of ancient Greek drama throughout Europe between 1450 and 1600. The research outputs of these two first events will be published within the Trends in Classics series (De Gruyter) in January 2022 as a co-edited volume (Translating Greek Drama in Early Modern Europe: Theory and Practice 1450-1600) by Malika Bastin-Hammou, Giovanna Di Martino, Lucy Jackson, and Cécile Dudouyt. A third event within the series will take place on 11 December 2020 (LINK) and will focus on translation theories and practices between 1600 and 1750 in Europe: the upcoming online conference is being supported by the Université Grenoble Alpes, Paris 13, and the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD). 

As part of the 2019 conference ‘On Translating Greek Drama in Early Modern Europe’,  Marie-Curie fellow and dramaturg Estelle Baudou and Leventis Research Fellow Giovanna Di Martino (UCL) ran a workshop on ‘Performing Early Modern translations’, the results of which were presented at the Maison Française d’Oxford on 29 November 2019. The workshop’s participants worked on four different 16th-century translations of Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis (Iphigenia Aulidensis by Rudolph Collinus (pseud. Dorotheus Camillus) (1541), L’Iphigène by Tomas Sébillet (1549), Ifigenia by Lodovico Dolce (1551), Iphigenia at Aulis by Jane Lumley (1554)).


To date, we have run two workshops relating to this project:

Early Modern Translation Workshop: 16th-century translations of Iphigenia at Aulis in the 21st century (28-19 November 2019)

Theatre Translation Workshop on Aeschylus' Agamemnon (2019-2020)

Click here for further information on our research workshops.


Seminar series Autumn 2012 Reception and Translation. Speakers: Susan Bassnett (Warwick), Oliver Taplin (Oxford), Charles Martindale (Bristol), Cécile Dudouyt (Oxford), Henry Stead (Oxford), Stuart Gillespie (Glasgow), Margaret Williamson (Dartmouth), Matthew Reynolds (Oxford)

1 December 2012: Colloquium on Translation, Oxford and the Classics. Speakers: Stuart Gillespie (Glasgow), Robert Crowe (Bristol), Oliver Taplin (Oxford), Peter McDonald (Oxford), Chris Stray (Glasgow). Panel discussion (chaired by Chris Pelling, Oxford) with Judith Luna (Oxford World's Classics), Simon Winder (Penguin Classics), David Raeburn (Oxford), Rhiannon Ash (Oxford), Peter Brown (Oxford).

Autumn 2012 Translating for the Stage (Leverhulme Lecture) Margaret Williamson (Dartmouth; Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the APGRD. Autumn 2012)

I December 2012: Timberlake Wertenbaker (playwright) in conversation with Margaret Williamson

24 March 2017: Odyssée 24: a global mass reading. Part of the Europen Festival of Latin and Greek. Translators/Speakers: Gregory Hutchinson; Molly Janz; Grace Linden; Kalina Allendorf; Spencer Klavan; Sam Norman; Arabella Currie; Marchella Ward; David Raeburn; Guy Brindley; Lucy Serocold; Melinda Letts; Jason Webber; Lucy Jackson; Nic Liney; Sean Kelly; Oliver Taplin.

16-17 June 2017: Translation into Theatre and the Social Sciences. Speakers: Lorna Hardwick (Open University) Stephe Harrop (Liverpool Hope University), Laura McKenzie (Durham University), Fabiana Lopes da Silveira (University of Oxford), Erin Moodie (Purdue University), Maddalena Giovannelli (State University of Milan), Carole-Anne Upton (Middlesex University London), Ketaki Datta (Bidhannagar Government College), Robert Stock (University of Warwick), Kerem Demirtaş (Ege University), Liliane Campos (Université Paris Sorbonne-Nouvelle), Enza de Francisi (University of Glasgow), Reut Barzilai (University of Haifa), Anne Bérélowitch (Instant MIX / PSL), Kasia Lech (Canterbury Christ Church University), Nicholas Arnold (Adam Mickiewicz University), Margherita Laera (University of Kent), Nicole Nolette (Acadia University), Maria Mytilinaki Kennedy (City University of New York), Cristina Marinetti (Cardiff University) [organising committee: Giovanna Di Martino (Oxford), Cécile Dudouyt (Paris 13), Sarah Grunnah (Oxford) and Cédric Ploix (Oxford)].

2 November 2017: Josephine Balmer on translating the fragments of Aeschylus’ Myrmidons

20 November 2017: Emily Wilson reading from her translation of The Odyssey

23 March 2018: Metamorphoses Book 10: a global mass reading. Part of the European Festival of Latin and Greek, accompanied by kithara-player, Michael Levy.  Translators/Speakers: Arabella Currie; Oliver Taplin; Kitty Low; Emily Clifford; Grace Linden; Gregory Hutchinson; Guy Bridley; Lucy Serocold; Marchella Ward; Melinda Letts; Alison Middleton; David Raeburn; Olivia Thompson; Xavier Buxton; Spencer Klavan; Talia Boylan; Nic Liney. 

14 December 2018: Translating Greek Tragedy in Early Modern Europe. Speakers: Malika Bastin-Hammou (Université Grenoble Alpes), Elia Borza (Université Catholique de Louvain), Giovanna Di Martino (Oxford), Claudia Cuzzotti (Independent), Luísa Resende (Coimbra), Thomas Baier (Universität Würzburg), Cécile Dudouyt (Paris 13), Tristan Alonge (Université de la Réunion), Tania Pollard (CUNY), Angelica Vedelago (Padua); Chairs: Fiona Macintosh (Oxford), Blair Hoxby (Stanford), Stuart Gillespie (Glasgow), Tiphaine Karsenti (Université Paris Nanterre).

29 November 2019: On Translating Greek Drama in Early Modern Europe (ca. 1400-1600). Speakers: Giovanna Di Martino (Oxford), Giulia Fiore (Bologna), Cécile Dudouyt (Paris 13), Angelica Vedelago (Padua), Alexia Dedieu (Grenoble), Lucy Jackson (Durham), Malika Bastin-Hammou (Grenoble), Thomas Baier (Würzburg).

11 December 2020: Translating Ancient Greek Drama in Europe 1600-1750. Speakers: Malika Bastin-Hammou (Université Grenoble Alpes), Simone Beta (Siena), Stuart Gillespie (Glasgow), Thomas Baier (Würzburg), Cressida Ryan (Oxford), Emanuel Stelzer (Verona), Claudia Cuzzotti (Independent), Giulia Fiore (Bologna), Angelica Vedelago (Verona), Antonio Ziosi (Bologna), Giovanna Casali (Bologna), Giovanna Di Martino (UCL), Cécile Dudouyt (Paris 13), Estelle Baudou (Oxford).


Fiona Macintosh (Principal Investigator)
Giovanna Di Martino (Oxford)
Estelle Baudou (Oxford)
Giulia Fiore (Bologna)
Cécile Dudouyt (APGRD Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Oxford/ University of Rennes 1)
Laura Monros-Gaspar (Research Associate, University of Valencia)
Sofia Frade (Research Associate, University of Lisbon)
Oliver Taplin (University of Oxford, Advisor)
Alain Viala (University of Oxford, Advisor)
Margaret Williamson (Dartmouth College, USA, Advisor)