Dr Lea Niccolai



Subject areas



After graduating in Classics from the Scuola Normale Superiore and the University of Pisa (Italy) in 2015, I completed a second MA in Ancient Near East Studies at the University of Pisa and then came to Cambridge in 2016 to pursue a PhD in Classics at King’s College.

I am a scholar of Greek culture in the context of the Roman Empire, with a special focus on late antiquity, the era of intense cultural and religious ferment marking the transition from the classical world to the Middle Ages. My research focuses on the processes of, and strategies for, the translation of (political, religious) ideology into literature. My PhD thesis, Age of Philosophy: the Self-Presentation of Power in the Post-Constantinian Empire, currently in preparation as a book, investigates the use of traditional philosophical concepts to legitimise new structures of power in the writings of the 4th-century Greco-Roman elite, with special attention to the works of Julian “the Apostate” and of the philosopher-bishop Synesius of Cyrene.

My broader research interests also include the dialogue between the late Roman empire and neighbouring cultures (especially Syriac, a major literary language of the late antique and medieval Middle East), Neoplatonism and its larger impact on ancient culture, voices and representations (or lack thereof) of women in late antiquity, and the contemporary reception in literature and the arts of the Constantinian and post-Constantinian world.