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Dr Christopher Metcalf

Associate Professor and Tutorial Fellow in Classical Languages and Literature

Introduction

Born to Anglo-German parents, I grew up in continental Europe and west Africa. In 2003 I came to Britain to study classical and ancient Near Eastern languages in Edinburgh, Oxford and London, graduating with a DPhil in Classics from the University of Oxford in 2013. Thinking that I might become a journalist, I got some work experience at the BBC’s French-language African radio station in London and at a German broadsheet, the F.A.Z., in Frankfurt. But my interest in teaching and research prevailed, and my first academic appointment was at SOAS, University of London, where I taught as a substitute for the Professor of Babylonian, A R George, in 2012-13. I returned to Oxford as Junior Research Fellow in Lesser Known Languages and Scripts of the Ancient World at Wolfson College (2013-16), and held a postdoctoral research fellowship awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany, before joining Queen’s in October 2016.

Teaching

My interest in classical literature was sparked many years ago by a memorable passage in book III of Homer’s Iliad and an enigmatic saying attributed to the philosopher Heraclitus; today I feel very fortunate to continue exploring and enjoying a wide range of Greek and Roman authors as a tutor. My teaching, which I seek to adapt to students’ needs and interests, covers the literary elements of the initial (‘Mods’) part of the Classics curriculum, as well as other papers related to early Greek poetry. 

Research

In past research I have explored the relationship between early Greek poetry and the literatures of the ancient Near East, in particular Mesopotamian and Anatolian texts (The Gods Rich in Praise: Early Greek and Mesopotamian Religious Poetry, OUP 2015). I am currently completing an edition of unpublished Sumerian literary manuscripts of the early second millennium BC, and am planning a study of comparative approaches to the Homeric epics. In the longer term I have also agreed to write a new history of Hittite literature for the ‘Handbuch der Orientalistik’-series (Brill).

Publications

Monographs:

Metcalf, C. (2015), The Gods Rich in Praise: Early Greek and Mesopotamian Religious Poetry, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Journal articles:

Metcalf, C. (2015), ‘Old Babylonian Religious Poetry in Anatolia: From Solar Hymn to Plague Prayer’, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 105, 42–53.

Metcalf, C. (2013), ʻBabylonian Perspectives on the Certainty of Deathʼ, Kaskal: Rivista di storia, ambienti e culture del Vicino Oriente antico 10, 255–67.

Metcalf, C. (2011), ʻNew Parallels in Hittite and Sumerian Praise of the Sunʼ, Die Welt des Orients 41, 168–76.