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Peter Green (historian)

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Peter Morris Green (born 22 December 1924)[1] is a British classical scholar and novelist noted for his works on the Greco-Persian Wars, Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age of ancient history, generally regarded as spanning the era from the death of Alexander in 323 BC up to either the date of the Battle of Actium or the death of Augustus in 14 AD.[2] Green's most famous books are Alexander of Macedon, a historical biography first issued in 1970, then in a revised and expanded edition in 1974, which was first published in the United States in 1991; his Alexander to Actium, a general account of the Hellenistic Age, and other works. He is the author of a translation of the Satires of the Roman poet Juvenal, now in its third edition. He has also contributed poems to many journals, including to Arion and the Southern Humanities Review.[2]


Green went to school at Charterhouse. During World War II, he served with the Royal Air Force in Burma. In Firpo's Bar in Calcutta, he met and became friendly with another future novelist, Paul Scott, who later used elements of Green's character for the figure of Sergeant Guy Perron in The Raj Quartet.[3]

After the war, Green attended Trinity College, Cambridge, where he achieved a Double First in Classics, winning the Craven Scholarship and Studentship in 1950. He subsequently wrote historical novels and worked as a journalist, in the capacity of fiction critic for the Daily Telegraph (1953–63), book columnist for the Yorkshire Post (1961–62), television critic for The Listener (1962–63), film critic for John O'London's (1961–63), as well as contributing to other journals.[1]

In 1963, he and his family moved to the Greek island of Lesbos, where he was a translator and independent scholar. In 1966 he moved to Athens, where he was recruited to teach classics for College Year in Athens, and published Armada from Athens, a study of the Sicilian Expedition of 415–3 BC (1970), and The Year of Salamis, a history of the Greco-Persian Wars (1971). In 1971 Green was invited to teach at the University of Texas at Austin, where he became Dougherty Centennial Professor of Classics in 1982, emeritus from 1997.[2] In 1986, he held the Mellon Chair of Humanities at Tulane University in New Orleans. He is now an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa and also has held visiting appointments at Princeton University and at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

Bob Dylan used Green's translations of Ovid, found in The Erotic Poems (1982) and The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters (1994) as song lyrics on the albums "Love and Theft" (2001) and Modern Times (2006).[4][5][6][7][8]

Green is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.[9]

Green was married to Classicist and ancient historian Carin M. C. Green, who died in 2015.[10]


Book reviews[edit]

Year Review article Work(s) reviewed
2007 "The Women and the Gods". The New York Review of Books. 54 (11): 32–35. 28 June 2007. Connelly, Joan Breton (2007). Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Critical studies and reviews of Green's work[edit]

The Odyssey (2018)


  1. ^ a b "Green, Peter 1924–", Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Encyclopedia.com, retrieved 30 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Novelist, Critic, Translator, Historian: An Interview with Peter Green", AMICI, Classical Association of Iowa.
  3. ^ Hilary Spurling, Paul Scott: A Life. London: Hutchinson, 1990, pp. 144, 148.
  4. ^ David Yaffe, "Bob Dylan and the Anglo-American tradition", in Kevin J. H. Dettmar (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan, Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 27.
  5. ^ David Yaffe, Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown, Yale University Press, 2011, p. 123.
  6. ^ Richard F. Thomas, "Shadows are Falling: Virgil, Radnóti, and Dylan", in Michael Paschalis (ed.), Pastoral Palimpsests: Essays in the Reception of Theocritus and Virgil, Rethymnon Classical Studies, Vol. 3, 2007, Crete University Press, p. 205.
  7. ^ Richard F. Thomas, "The Streets of Rome: The Classical Dylan" Archived 11 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Oral Tradition, 22/1 (2007; 30–56), pp. 35–37.
  8. ^ "An Interview with Richard Thomas on Bob Dylan and the Classics", Persephone: The Harvard Undergraduate Classics Journal, Spring 2017, Vol. 2, No. 1.
  9. ^ Peter Green at New York Review of Books.
  10. ^ Obituary: "Professor Carin M. Green March 30, 1948 - July 2, 2015 Iowa City, Iowa".
  11. ^ Peter Green (8 January 2013). Alexander of Macedon, 356–323 B.C.: A Historical Biography. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-95469-4.

External links[edit]