Dr Rosie Wyles researches the cultural history of the ancient world through theatre performance. She did her undergraduate studies in Classics at Oxford and was awarded her PhD on the ancient performance reception of Euripides from the University of London in 2007. This was part of the AHRC-funded project on the reception of ancient theatre undertaken by the Archive for the Performance Reception of Greek and Roman Drama, Oxford.
Before joining Kent, Rosie held posts at the University of Oxford, the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, the University of Nottingham and at King's College London.
Rosie's research interests include Greek and Roman performance arts, costume, reception within antiquity and beyond it, and gender.
Rosie is part of the Artefacts and Society research cluster.
Rosie teaches classical mythology, Greek drama, ancient Greek and Latin literature, and reception.
After being selected to be a part of the first BBC Female Experts media training scheme (2013), Rosie has since contributed to both television and radio broadcasts:
- Contributor to BBC World Service ‘The Forum: Antigone’ (2019)
- Contributor to Radio 4 ‘Natalie Haynes Stands up for Classics’ (2016)
- Contributor to BBC2 'Who were the Greeks?' (2013)
- Contributor to BBC4 'Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show on Earth (three episodes, 2013).
Rosie is active in sharing knowledge of her subject in the public arena:
- Panelist in the Medusa Creative Minds symposium on Medusa (in collaboration with the Jasmin Vardimon dance company at Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury 2019)
- Public Art lecture ‘Visualising Ancient Theatre’ (Bristol, 2016)
- Participant, Heffers bookshop Ancient authors Balloon Debate (Cambridge, 2015)
- Organiser of Antigone workshop at Gulbenkian Theatre (Canterbury, 2014)
- Panelist at Cheltenham Literature Festival (October 2014)
- Speaker at National Theatre Medea in Context Seminars (London 2014)
- Speaker at York festival of ideas: Medea order and chaos (York 2014)
- Panelist: Does Greek drama matter now? (King's College, London 2014)
- Panelist Cambridge Greek play Symposium (Cambridge 2014)
Wyles, R. (2011). Costume in Greek Tragedy. Bristol Classical Press.
Wyles, R. (2019). ’The power of Ajax’s sword’. In: Looking at Ajax. Bloomsbury, pp. 55-65.
This chapter discusses the significance of the sword prop in Sophocles' Ajax.
Wyles, R. (2016). Ménage’s learned ladies: Anne Dacier (1647-1720) and Anna Maria van Schurmann (1607-1678). In: Wyles, R. and Hall, E. eds. Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press, pp. 61-77. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/women-classical-scholars-9780198725206?cc=gb&lang=en.
In 1690, the French scholar Gilles Ménage (1613-1692) published the first edition of his Historia Mulierum Philosopharum (The History of Women Philosophers), in which he collected information about over sixty-five female philosophers from antiquity. In the pages of this catalogue, he also singled out two outstandingly learned women of his own day: Anna Maria van Schurman (1607-78) and Anne Dacier (née Le Fèvre, 1647-1720), calling them both 'doctissima' (very learned). This chapter explores the significance of Ménage’s publication and his praise of these two women. It suggests that Ménage did more than simply honour Anne Dacier through this publication; he, in fact, justifies her career choice and implies that her serious engagement with learning makes her, and women like her, the equal of contemporary male scholars. At the same time, while his praise of Dacier and van Schurman suggests parity between these women, the reality is that they used their classical learning to strikingly different ends. Anna Maria van Schurman showed herself to be far more interested in the question of female education, while Anne Dacier was more concerned with promoting the appreciation of classical literature. Yet Ménage’s publication would result in Dacier being used as a leading example, alongside van Schurman, in treatises arguing for female education across the following centuries. This case study, therefore, invites reflection on the nature of biography and the question of who has control over the meaning of an individual's engagement in classical learning.
Wyles, R. (2016). Afterword: Keeping the Fountain in Flow. In: Wyles, R. and Hall, E. eds. Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press, pp. 399-404. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/women-classical-scholars-9780198725206?cc=gb&lang=en&.
This Afterword offers a brief synthesis of the collected essays' findings and considers future directions for the field.
Wyles, R. (2016). Ancient Drama in the French Renaissance and up to Louis XIV. In: van Zyl Smit, B. ed. A Handbook to the Reception of Greek Drama. Wiley, pp. 154-172.
An overview of the reception of ancient Greek drama, tragedy and comedy, in France from the earliest performance (Medea in 1539) to the spectacular works during Louis XIV's reign. The chapter explores the tension between stage and page in the French reception history of ancient drama during this period.
Wyles, R. (2016). Staging in Bacchae. In: Stuttard, D. ed. Looking at Bacchae. Bloomsbury, pp. 59-70. Available at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/looking-at-bacchae-9781474221481/.
This chapter considers aspects of staging in Euripides' Bacchae
Wyles, R. (2016). Aristophanes and the French Translations of Anne Dacier. In: Walsh, P. ed. Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Aristophanes. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, pp. 195-216. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/9789004324657.
Anne Dacier (née Le Fèvre) produced a French translation of Clouds and Plutus in 1684 which ensured that the vernacular reader could read two complete plays of Aristophanes in French for the first time. It was as a particularly bold undertaking, given the limited work in this area before her and this comic playwright's unfavourable reputation in 17th-century France. Her work gained relatively little immediate attention by reviewers and enjoyed only a limited number of re-editions (compared to, for example, her Terence), but it was destined to exert a significant influence on the reception of Aristophanes in France and beyond. This chapter takes our understanding of her landmark translation of Aristophanes further in two ways. Firstly by exploring the rhetorical strategies Dacier employed in trying to persuade the vernacular reader of the brilliance of the original, particularly in her 'remarques' (notes). Secondly the discussion examines the motivations and implications of Dacier’s radical change to the gender of two characters in Clouds. This change has gone unnoticed in previous discussions of Dacier's translation but reveals a significant strand in the reception history of Aristophanes and an important element to Dacier's influence on subsequent English translations.
Wyles, R. (2015). Heracles. In: Lauriola, R. and Demetriou, K. eds. Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Euripides. Brill, pp. 561-583. Available at: http://www.brill.com/products/reference-work/brills-companion-reception-euripides#TOC_1.
Euriphides' Heracles, first produced ca.415 BC, explores themes of violence and heriosm, family and nostos ("homecoming"), madness, identity, divine influence and the redemptive quality of philia ("friendship"). In this tragedy, Heracles' wife, Megara, together with his sons and his father, Amphitryon, are threatened with death by the tyrant Lycus. Heracles arrives back from the completion of his Labours, just in time to save them fand kill Lycus. In a dramatic turn of events, however, Iris and Lyssa (personification of Madness) appear and follow Hera's orders to send Heracles mad. He kills his wife and children, but with the support of his friend Theseus finds a way to continue to live. The challenging nature of the play's themes has imprinted itself on the pattern of its reception over the ages: it has, "always surfaced in historically charged periods" and despite infrequent staging has "had an undeniable impact on the history of ideas". For this reason Euripides' Heracles holds a distinctive place within the story of the widespread popularity and reception, from antiquity to the present day, of Heracles as a mythological character in general.
Wyles, R. (2015). The Children of Heracles (Heraclidae). In: Lauriola, R. and Demetriou, K. eds. Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Euripides. Brill, pp. 584-606. Available at: http://www.brill.com/products/reference-work/brills-companion-reception-euripides#TOC_1.
Euripides' 'The Children of Heracles' is a patriotic play about the Athenian protection of vulnerable suppliants (the children of Heracles) threatened by the violent King of mycenae, Eurystheus. The tragedy includes a chorus of Athenian war verterans (pround Marathon fighters), the selfless voluntary sacrifice of a maiden, (a daughter of Heracles either without name or called Macaria) and the miraculous battlefield rejuvenatino of Heracles' elderly relative, Iolaus. It is likely to have been stages in the first years of the Peloponnesian war (ca.431 BC) and can be argued to have been accepted in this original context as a celebration of Athenian ideology. The play's inclusion of virgin sacrifice, which was probably a Euripidean innovation to the myth, has invited comparison with Euripides' 'Hecub'a and 'Iphigenia at Aulis' both of which, however, enjoy fuller reception histories. Despite very litte attention being given to 'The Children of Heracles' during the Renaissance, the virgin sacrifice and battle field rejuvenation of the elderly warrior appealed to cultural sensibilites in the 18th century and ensured its influence on three tragedies. To modern sensibilities, one might expect the combination of propaganda, patriotic sacrifice, and miraculous in Euripides' tragedy to be more troubling; the past two decades, however, have produced an unparalleled (in its reception history) growth of interest in the play as it has been appropriated to explore issues of immigration, war and the ethics of revenge
Wyles, R. (2014). Staging Medea. In: Stuttard, D. ed. Looking at Medea: Essays and a Translation of Euripides’ Tragedy. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 47-63. Available at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/looking-at-medea-9781472530165/#sthash.E43XPWEl.dpuf.
Wyles, R. (2013). Heracles’s Costume from Euripides’s Heracles to Pantomime Performance. In: Harrison, W. M. and Liapis, V. eds. Performance in Greek and Roman Theatre. Brill, pp. 181-198.
Wyles, R. (2010). Towards Theorising the Place of Costume in Performance Reception. In: Hall, E. and Harrop, S. eds. Theorising Performance: Greek Drama, Cultural History and Critical Practice. Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd, pp. 171-180.
Wyles, R. (2010). The Tragic Costumes. In: Taplin, O. and Wyles, R. eds. The Pronomos Vase in Its Context. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 231-254.
Wyles, R. (2008). The Symbolism of Costume in Ancient Pantomime. In: Hall, E. and Wyles, R. eds. New Directions in Ancient Pantomime. Oxford University Press, pp. 61-86.
Wyles, R. (2007). Publication as Intervention: Aristophanes in 1659. In: Hall, E. and Wrigley, A. eds. Aristophanes in Performance 421 BC-AD 2007: Peace, Birds, and Frogs. Legenda: Oxford, pp. 94-105.
Wyles, R. (2019). Ancient Theatre and Performance Culture Around the Black Sea. [Online]. Braund, D., Hall, E. and Wyles, R. eds. Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316756621.
This is the first study of ancient theatre and performance around the coasts of the Black Sea. It brings together key specialists around the region with well-established international scholars on theatre and the Black Sea, from a wide range of disciplines, especially archaeology, drama and history. In that way the wealth of material found around these great coasts is brought together with the best methodology in all fields of study. This landmark book broadens the whole concept and range of theatre outside Athens. It shows ways in which the colonial world of the Black Sea may be compared importantly with Southern Italy and Sicily in terms of theatre and performance. At the same time, it shows too how the Black Sea world itself can be better understood through a focus on the development of theatre and performance there, both among Greeks and among their local neighbours.
Wyles, R. (2016). Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century. [Online]. Wyles, R. and Hall, E. eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/women-classical-scholars-9780198725206?cc=gb&lang=en&.
Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly is the first written history of the pioneering women born between the Renaissance and 1913 who played significant roles in the history of classical scholarship. Facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles from patriarchal social systems and educational institutions - from learning Latin and Greek as a marginalized minority, to being excluded from institutional support, denigrated for being lightweight or over-ambitious, and working in the shadows of husbands, fathers, and brothers - they nevertheless continued to teach, edit, translate, analyse, and elucidate the texts left to us by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
In this volume twenty essays by international leaders in the field chronicle the lives of women from around the globe who have shaped the discipline over more than five hundred years. Arranged in broadly chronological order from the Italian, Iberian, and Portuguese Renaissance through to the Stalinist Soviet Union and occupied France, they synthesize illuminating overviews of the evolution of classical scholarship with incisive case-studies into often overlooked key figures: some, like Madame Anne Dacier, were already famous in their home countries but have been neglected in previous, male-centred accounts, while others have been almost completely lost to the mainstream cultural memory. This book identifies and celebrates them - their frustrations, achievements, and lasting records; in so doing it provides the classical scholars of today, regardless of gender, with the female intellectual ancestors they did not know they had.
Wyles, R. (2010). The Pronomos Vase and Its Context. Taplin, O. and Wyles, R. eds. Oxford University Press.
Hall, E. and Wyles, R. eds. (2008). New Directions in Ancient Pantomime. Oxford University Press.
Wyles, R. (2019). The Aeschylean Sting in Wasps’ Tale: Aristophanes’ Engagement with the Oresteia. The Classical Quarterly [Online]. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/classical-quarterly.
Two important elements to Aristophanes’ interplay with tragedy in Wasps have been overlooked in scholarship: his sustained engagement with the Oresteia and his use of costume to comment on Aeschylus’ work. The systematic consideration of Wasps’ allusions to Agamemnon and Eumenides in the scenes running up to, and including, the trial establishes the significance of this Aeschylean intertext for the appreciation of the ongoing competition between the comic and tragic genre in this comedy. It also highlights the special status of this tragic interaction, in which the first and last play of a connected trilogy are referenced simultaneously with a destabilizing effect on the original. The second part of the article argues that Aristophanes exploits references to both Agamemnon and Eumenides in the cloak scene (Wasps 1122–264) and uses them to criticize Aeschylus’ dramaturgy, invite a negative reading of Bdelycleon’s ideological stance and reinforce the play’s pessimistic view of the Athenian law courts. This article offers an original contribution to the scholarship on Wasps enhancing our understanding of the play’s relationship with tragedy and its use of costume.
Wyles, R. (2017). Greek Tragic Fragments with a Black Sea. In: Braund, D., Hall, E. and Wyles, R. eds. Tragic Theatre in the Black Sea. Cambridge University Press.
This chapter explores the significance of the Black Sea region within the cultural imagination of Athens by examining the fragments of 5th-century tragedies with Black Sea settings. The fragmentary plays discussed include: Aeschylus’ Argo (or Oarsmen), Oreithyia, Phineus, Prometheus Unbound, Sophocles’ Chryses, Colchian Women, Drummers, Phineus (A and B), Phrixus, Root-cutters, Scythians, and Euripides’ Phrixus (A and B). These fragmentary tragedies, as a set, can offer glimpses of the meaning of the Black Sea setting as a conceptual category and insights into its dramatic potential. The approach of examining the Black Sea as a conceptual category in tragedy is indebted to Froma Zeitlin's seminal study on the significance of Thebes. This approach has been under-exploited in the realm of dramatic fragments. Yet in the case of the material under discussion, it provides fresh insight by revealing that the Black Sea setting allowed engagement in (what we would now term) ‘colonial discourse’. Comparable treatments of the setting in other genres (epic, epinician, and historiography) offer a framework for this analysis and establish the 'colonial' motifs (wonder, danger and appropriation) through which tragedy's ideological exploitation of the region is understood. Furthermore, it is suggested that the inclusion of distinctly Athenian aspects in these fragmentary plays, viewed within this ‘colonial’ context, imply an assertion of cultural domination. In the second part of the discussion, it is argued that insights into the dramatic potential of the Black Sea setting can be gained through assessing these fragments against established ways of thinking about tragedy, as: travel tragedy, katabasis drama, escape tragedy, and 'haunted' (interperformative) plays. Overall the chapter aims to establish tentative parameters for what the tragic Black Sea setting could mean, both ideologically and dramatically, to a 5th-century audience. In the process, it proposes a new approach to dramatic fragments (examining a set, with a shared dramatic setting, through an ideological and dramatic axis), which has the potential to be extended to studies of material relating to other locales.
Wyles, R. (2017). The Generic Implications of Philocleon’s New Cloak. In: Tsoumpra, N. ed. Aristophanic Costume. Bloomsbury Academic Press.
This chapter argues that Philocleon's enforced costume change in Aristophanes’ Wasps (1122f), from a threadbare cloak (tribon) to a luxury 'Persian' one (kaunakes), forms an integral part of the ongoing competition between the comic and tragic genre in the play. Despite the importance of this pivotal scene in the comedy, it has only recently begun to receive the attention it deserves, with the emergence of studies by Gwendolyn Compton-Engle, Mario Telò, and Alexa Piqueux. Compton-Engle asserts the dressing scene’s importance as an expression of the play’s themes, Telò examines its bearing on Aristophanes’ self-definition (especially in relation to the defeat of Clouds and his comic rivals), and Piqueux explores its perspective on social mobility. In this chapter, I hope to make a further contribution to these discussions through the consideration of the previously overlooked allusion to Aeschylus' Oresteia in this play and through reflecting on the interpretative implications of relevant costume changes in Aristophanes' Acharnians and Knights. In broader terms, if it is accepted that Wasps engages with tragedy’s manipulation of costume as well as Aristophanes’ own previous treatment of it, then this discussion highlights Wasps’ importance as evidence for the on-going significance of costume in Aristophanes' dialectic with tragedy and in his discourse on theatre in general.