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Timothy Joseph


Department of Classics

Associate Professor
Ph.D., Harvard University

Fields: Latin historiography and epic poetry; the reception of the Classics in the U.S.


CV (PDF) »

Office Phone: 508-793-3780
Office: Fenwick 427
PO Box: 144A
Office Hours: Mon., 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m., Thurs., 12:30-2:00 p.m., & by appointment



Tim Joseph graduated from Holy Cross with a B.A. in Classics in 1998 and then taught Latin at Cresskill Junior-Senior High School in New Jersey from 1998 to 2001. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Classical Philology from Harvard University. Tim has been back at Holy Cross teaching on Fenwick 4 since the fall of 2006. He has taught several years in the Montserrat first-year seminar program and is serving as the director of Montserrat’s Divine Cluster in 2019–20 and 2020-21.

Tim’s research concentrates on Latin historiography and epic poetry, with a focus on the literature of the early Roman empire. His is the author of Tacitus the Epic Successor (Brill, 2012), and his book Thunder and Lament: Lucan on the Beginnings and Ends of Latin Epic is under contract with Oxford University Press. For more information, see the profile at: On occasion Tim writes for The Conversation about topics such as Martin Luther's King's lived engagement with the Classics and echoes of Roman history in the ongoing transformation of the U.S. Senate and presidency.  In 2017 and 2018 he served as the director of the Classical Association of New England's Summer Institute at Brown University.

Recent and Upcoming Courses

  • Latin 101–2         Introduction to Latin
  • Latin 213             Intermediate Latin 1 (Pliny's Letters)
  • Latin 214             Intermediate Latin 2 (Latin epic)    
  • Latin 320             Sallust and Livy
  • Latin 321             Tacitus                                              
  • Latin 334             Lucretius                                                          
  • Latin 358             Virgil’s Aeneid    
  • Latin 399             Julius Caesar in the Roman Literary Imagination
  • Latin 399             Literature in the Age of Nero       
  • Greek 101–2        Introduction to Greek
  • Greek 213            Intermediate Greek 1 (Plato's Apology
  • Greek 214            Intermediate Greek 2 (Homer's Odyssey)
  • Classics 103        Greek and Roman Epic
  • Classics 120        Classical Mythology
  • Classics 145        The Classics and Conflict in the United States
  • Montserrat (Divine Cluster) Immortality in Ancient Greece & Rome  

Select Publications


Tacitus the Epic Successor. Virgil, Lucan, and the Narrative of Civil War in the Histories. Mnemosyne Supplements. Monographs on Greek and Latin language and literature, vol. 345 (Brill, 2012).

Articles and Book Chapters

“The Metamorphoses of Tanta Moles: Ovid, Met. 15.765 and Tacitus, Ann. 1.11.1,” Vergilius 54 (2008): 24–36.

“The Disunion of Catullus’ Fratres Unanimi at Virgil, Aeneid 7.335–6,” The Classical Quarterly 59.1 (2009): 274–278.

Ac rursus noua laborum facies: Tacitus’ Repetition of Virgil’s Wars at Histories 3.26–34,” in John F. Miller and A. J. Woodman, eds., Latin Historiography and Poetry in the Early Empire: Generic Interactions (Brill, 2010), 155­–169.

“Tacitus and Epic,” in Victoria E. Pagán, ed., A Companion to Tacitus (Blackwell, 2012), 369–385.

Repetita bellorum ciuilium memoria: The remembrance of civil war and its literature in Tacitus, Histories 1.50,” in Jonas Grethlein and Christopher Krebs, eds., Time and Narrative in Ancient Historiography: The ‘Plupastfrom Herodotus to Appian (Cambridge University Press, 2012), 156–174.

“The Death of Almo in Virgil’s Latin War,” The New England Classical Journal 39.2 (2012): 99–112.

“The Boldness of Maternus’ First Speech (Tacitus, Dialogus 11–13),” in Olivier Devillers, ed., Les opera minora et le développement de l’historiographie tacitéenne (Ausonius Éditions, 2014), 131–145.

“Pharsalia as Rome’s ‘day of doom’ in Lucan,” American Journal of Philology 138.1 (2017): 107–141.

"The Verbs Make the Man: A Reading of Caesar, Gallic War 1.7 and Civil War 1.1 and 3.2,The New England Classical Journal 44.3 (2017): 150-161.

"Caesar in Vergil and Lucan," in Luca Grillo and Christopher Krebs, eds., The Cambridge Companion to the Writings of Julius Caesar (Cambridge University Press, 2017), 289-303.

“East and West in the Histories of Herodotus and Tacitus,” in Mary English and Lee Fratantuono, eds., Pushing the Boundaries of Historia (Routledge, 2018), 69–85.

"The Figure of the Eyewitness in Tacitus' Histories," Latomus 78 (2019): 68–101.

"'One city captures us': Lucan's Inverted Disaster Narrative," in Virginia Closs and Elizabeth Keitel, eds., Urban Disasters and the Roman Imagination (De Gruyter, 2020), 33-48.

The Conversation

Timothy Joseph is a frequent contributor to The Conversation, an independent news and commentary website. His most recent contributions appear below.

Trump hugs the American flag at a 2019 convention of political conservatives. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The U.S. Senate has made its judgment in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, acquitting the president. Fifty two of 53 senators in the Republican majority voted to acquit the president on the abuse of power charge and all 53 ...

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks to the media with members of the Senate Republican leadership, Oct. 29, 2019. AP/Jacquelyn Martin

Unhinged leaders, dynastic intrigue, devastation and plunder: For 15 years I have been researching and teaching the ancient historian Tacitus’ works on the history of the Roman Empire. It has rarely been difficult to find echoes of the history he describes in current even...

In “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” the soaring and chilling speech he delivered the day before his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. ponders the thought of life in other places and times.

Among other eras in history, he considers the prime of classical Athens, when he could have enjoyed the company of luminaries “around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality,” along with “the great heyday of the Roman Empire.”

These considerations of ancient Greece and Rome, in what would be King’s final speech, speak to his close engagement with the Classics throughout his writings.

As one whose courses consider how classical ideas have contributed to public dialogue in the 20th and 21st centuries, I want t...

The NBC Nightly News of ancient Greece...

Brian Williams was born too late.

Earlier this month, the realization that the “NBC Nightly News” anchor had misrepresented experiences in Iraq led to a six-month suspension and outcry for his termination. His tales of harrowing experiences in the French Quarter during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are also under scrutiny.

But Williams’s penchant for reaching and at times overreaching for eyewitness authenticity puts him in good company – with the reporters who stand at the very beginning of the Western tradition.

Eyewitness reporting in ancient times

The historians of anci...