Steve Kershaw


Dr Steve Kershaw. Photo (c) Alison Jones

Steve Kershaw is an expert on dead languages and the people who don’t speak them anymore. He’s has spent a great deal of time in the world of the Ancient Romans, both intellectually and physically, ever since he read Virgil’s Aeneid with his torch under the bedclothes at the age of 10, and he hasn’t stopped talking and writing about them ever since. Steve taught courses in Classical Greek and Latin for The University of Warwick Centre for Lifelong Learning from 2002 to 2010, and is now a Tutor/Lecturer at Oxford University, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Arts Society (ex NADFAS), New York University London, and accompanies holidays organised by cultural travel companies (Cox & Kings, Noble Caledonia, Voyages to Antiquity, etc.).

Steve has also created Oxford University’s online courses on Greek Mythology, The Fall of Rome and The Minoans and Mycenaeans. In addition to titles published by Constable & Robinson – A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths, A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization, A Brief History of the Roman Empire, A Brief History of Atlantis: Plato’s Ideal State, and Barbarians: Rebellion and Resistance to the Roman Empire ­- he has edited The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology, and will be publishing a children’s book on Greek mythology entitled Mythologica in the autumn. Steve was an expert contributor to the History Channel’s Barbarians Rising series; former students include the Princess of Jordan; and he translated the Greek inscription on Matthew Pinsent’s fourth Olympic gold medal for him after his victory in Athens. He lives in the Oxfordshire village of Deddington with his wife the artist Lal Jones, and their mythologically-named English Springer Spaniel called Hero.


Autumn Term 2019, Stratford Upon Avon

The course is designed for students with a fairly advanced level of facility in Latin who wish to read and enjoy authentic texts in the original language (the witty and urbane poetry of Horace’s Satires Book 1 this term). This is not a beginner’s course – you’ll need a pretty reasonable working knowledge of the the major Latin grammatical and syntactical constructions, the basic morphology of verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc., but it’s fine if your Latin is a bit rusty. Previous ‘O’ or ‘A’ Level, or perhaps some study at degree level will stand you in good stead, even if you did this a long time ago. The group is well-established, friendly and supportive, and you will be welcomed warmly. Our discussions often extend beyond the nuances of the language, which we love, into fascinating aspects of Roman society and history. We approach our Latin in a light-hearted yet academically rigorous way, and overall we’re aiming to be able acurately to translate some brilliant Latin verse into English, and to get a feel for the literary features used (e.g. metaphor, simile, rhythm and metre), and the context (literary, historical, social) in which it was written.


The dates of our sessions are flexible, and vary slightly from term to term, depending to an extent on Steve’s various academic commitments. Meetings are normally held on Tuesday mornings, between 10:00 and 12:00. Our planned sessions for Autumn 2019 (subject to small changes, possibly) are:

  • Tue 8 October
  • Tue 15 October
  • Tue 22 October
  • Tue 12 November
  • Mon 18 November
  • Tue 26 November
  • Tue 3 December
  • Tue 10 December
  • Tue 17 December


Stratford-upon-Avon Friends Meeting House
37 Maidenhead Road
CV37 6XT

Car parking at the venue itself is slightly limited, but there is ample parking available on the streets very nearby. It is not a problem.


This is determined entirely by how many sessions we do in the term, and how many people attend the course. Contact Steve Kershaw at for further information.

We also chip in with £1 every now and then to cover the coffee and high-quality biscuits which we enjoy half-way through each session.


You’ll need to buy your own edition of Horace’s Satires Book 1.


P. Michael Brown (Editor), Horace Satires: Bk. 1 (Classical Texts) (Aris & Phillips Classical Texts) –


Emily Gowers (Editor), Horace: Satires Book I (Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics) –


E-mail Steve Kershaw at and he will explain what to do next.

‘Sappho’. Fresco of the 4th Pompeian style, dating to 55-79 AD, discovered in House VI, 17 or Insula Occidentalis in Pompeii on 24 May 1760. The painting shows the bust of a girl, inserted in a medallion with a purple background that stands out against the white wall, holding a polyptych of four waxed tablets in her left hand, and a stylus in her right. It’s not a portrait of he famous Greek poetess, rather she conforms to the type of the docta puella, am educated girl who belongs to a cultured and rich family. Photo (c) Steve Kershaw
‘Terentius Neo and his wife’.  4th Style Pompeian style, c.55-79 AD, was discovered in the tablinum of the House of Terentius Neo in Pompeii in 1868. The fresco depicts a couple of middle-class people inhabitants of Pompeii, certainly a husband with his wife, and was placed on the back wall of the room in such a way as to be visible to anyone who passed through the atrium. It is the baker Terentius Neo, as the engraved inscription inside the house reveals (not, as some scholars had incorrectly thought for a long time, Paquius Proculus, whose name appears instead in an electoral inscription painted on the outside wall). The couple are portrayed as refined, cultured, fashionable, well-to-do people. Despite everything, though, the facial features, rendered by the painter with deliberate accuracy, reveal their provincial origins: they are probably nouveau-riche Samnites, aspiring to conceal their rather humble origins and presenting themselves as cultured Pompeiians who belong to the higher echelons of society by full right. Photo (c) Steve Kershaw
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