Elizabeth Pender

Elizabeth Pender



2018-19 Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London

I studied for my BA in Classics (Latin and Ancient Greek) at the University of Leeds (1981-5) and completed my PhD on Plato at the University of Durham (1985-92), where I also held my first lectureship.in Classics. I was awarded a British Academy Post-doctoral Research Fellowship at King's College London (1992-5) and lectured at Royal Holloway and University College London (1995-6). In 1996 I was appointed to my post in ancient philosophy here at Leeds and was very pleased to move back to the place where I spent happy years as a student and first learned ancient Greek. For 2018-19 I am enjoying the research environment at the Institute of Classical Studies, London.


  • Programme Manager Classics Masters

Research interests

Research Interests

2018-19 Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London

A specialist in Greek philosophy, particularly the literary aspects of philosophical writing, Elizabeth wrote her first book on the cognitive role of Plato's metaphors, Images of Persons Unseen: Platos Metaphors for the Gods and the Soul (International Plato Studies, Volume 11, Sankt Augustin 2000). Since then her writings have considered Plato's engagement with earlier Greek traditions of philosophy and poetry, showing the philosopher's conflicted but creative relationship with established thought. For Project Theophrastus, based at Rutgers University in the USA , she co-edited Heraclides of Pontus (New Brunswick 2009) which explored the wide-ranging interests of Plato's distinguished pupil. The volume arose from a conference supported by a British Academy Major Award, bringing a team of international Heraclides specialists to Leeds. During the Centenary of World War One (2014-18), she was academic lead of the White Rose Universities research network: 'Classical Heroism in War and Peace, 1914-24', which led to her 2018 publication of the co-authored volume Classics and Classicists in World War One, a Special Issue of Classical Receptions Journal (OUP). 

She is currently completing a book on Plato's Poetic Allusions, a major study of the poetic, narrative, and visual techniques used in the dialogues.

She has supervised PhD research projects on Greek conceptions of erotic experience, understandings of self and death, metaphors of cultural identity, madness in Plato's Phaedrus, Plato's epistemology in Theaetetus, Plato's political imagery in Statesman, and ancient conceptions of major depressive disorder. She has examined PhDs nationally and internationally.


Selected Publications

  • (2019, forthcoming) "Classical Idealism and Political Action in World War One", Mobilizing Identities/Identities in Motion in WW1. edd. C. Savettieri and F. Pedriali (Palgrave Macmillan)
  • (2018) edited Classics and Classicists in World War One, Special Issue, Classical Receptions Journal 10.4, Oxford University Press
  • (2013) "Perforated right through: why Plato borrowed Empedocles' klepsydra", Leeds International Classical Studies
  • (2007) co-edited with W.W. Fortenbaugh, Heraclides of Pontus: Texts, Translation, and Discussion, Rutgers University Series in Classical Humanities Vol. 15, New Brunswick
  • (2007) "Sappho and Anacreon in Plato's Phaedrus", Leeds International Classical Studies 6.4, 1-56
  • (2007) "Poetic Allusion in Plato's Timaeus and Phaedrus", Gttinger Forum fr Altertumswissenschaft 10 51-87
  • (2005) "Plain speaking? Socrates Polutropos", Skepsis 16, 246-61
  • (2003) "Plato on metaphors and models", in G.R. Boys-Stones (ed.), Metaphor, Allegory and the Classical Tradition, Oxford University Press, 55-81
  • (2000) Images of Persons Unseen: Plato's Metaphors for the Gods and the Soul,  Sankt Augustin
  • (1999) "Plato's moving logos", Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 45, 75-107
  • (1997) "The language of soul in Plato's Timaeus", in T. Calvo and L. Brisson (edd.), Interpreting the Timaeus-Critias, Sankt Augustin, 281-8
  • (1992) "Spiritual pregnancy in Plato's Symposium" Classical Quarterly 42.1, 72-86
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • The Hellenic Society
  • Council of University Classical Departments

Student education

Programme Manager, Classics Masters

I teach modules on Plato, Homer, ancient Greek cultural values, and the reception of classical ideals in recent eras. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Classics
  • Classics
  • Literary studies
  • Centre for World Literatures
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>