Richard Seaford is a professor of the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter in England. He is the author of academic books, especially on ancient Greece, and has penned over seventy academic papers.
His work on Athenian tragedy and religion has led him to investigate the historical conditions for the radical development of Greek culture in the sixth century BC (sometimes called the origin of European culture), and to argue that a crucial factor in this development was money: the advanced Greek polis of this period was the first society in history that we know to have been thoroughly monetised.
Money and the Early Greek Mind. Homer, Tragedy, Philosophy (Cambridge 2004) explores the socio-historical conditions that made this first monetisation possible as well as its profound cultural consequences, notably the invention of 'philosophy' and of drama.
The investigation is taken further in several recent papers, for instance in ‘Money and Tragedy’ in W. V. Harris (ed.), The Monetary Systems of the Greeks and Romans (2008). His most recent book is Cosmology and the Polis: the Social Construction of Space and Time in the Tragedies of Aeschylus (Cambridge 2012).
In 2005-2008 he was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust. For 2013-4 he was awarded an AHRC Fellowship for a comparative historical study of early Indian with early Greek thought.
Seaford declined an invitation to review a book for the Israeli journal Scripta Classica Israelica. In a report carried by the European Jewish Press he stated
I have, along with many other British academics, signed the academic boycott of Israel, in the face of the brutal and illegal expansionism and the slow-motion ethnic cleansing, being practised by your government.
The report quoted him further:
I am aware of the honest arguments for and against a boycott, and that even some Israeli academics support the boycott and many do not. Whatever your views, I hope you will understand that my view is based on a widely shared moral outrage.
- Pompeii (Summerfield Press ; New York : distributed by Thames & Hudson, 1978) ISBN 0-8467-0572-9
- Euripides Cyclops with Introduction and Commentary (Oxford [Oxfordshire] : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1984) ISBN 0-19-814030-4
- Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City-state (Oxford [England] : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1994) ISBN 0-19-814949-2
- Euripides Bacchae (Aris and Phillips, 1996)
- Reciprocity in Ancient Greece (co-editor with C. Gill and N. Postlethwaite) (Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998) ISBN 0-19-814997-2
- Money and the early Greek Mind: Homer, Tragedy, and Philosophy (Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004) ISBN 0-521-83228-4
- Dionysos (London ; New York : Routledge, 2006) ISBN 0-415-32488-2
- Cosmology and the Polis: the Social Construction of Space and Time in the Tragedies of Aeschylus (Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2012) ISBN 978-1-107-00927-1
- "The emergence of a silent academic boycott of Israel", European Jewish Press, 28 May 2006.