Princeton University, Ph.D.
Princeton University, M.A. 
University of Canterbury (New Zealand), B.A.   

Teaching Interests

My teaching interests lie mainly in the realm of Latin language and literature, but I am interested in classical antiquity as a broad phenomenon that spans well over a millennium - from the early poetry of Homer through to the Confessions of Augustine (and beyond). In the twenty-first century, we can learn much about ourselves from the continuities and breaks that we find in the ancient texts. A foreign culture, with at times radically different values from our own, can also alert us to our own assumptions and prejudices, and it is no surprise that thinkers throughout western history have found some of their most powerful source material among the remnants of Greek and Roman antiquity. Besides this, ancient Greek and Latin themselves give us an enriched appreciation of the languages in which we live; in addition to the practical benefits of learning these languages (especially when it comes to English grammar and vocabulary), there is the joy of finding out where the roots of words such as "muscle", "syntax", "front", and "sophomore" lie. This year I'll be teaching courses on Seneca's tragedies, Intermediate Latin, Augustan Literature, as well as Roman Civilization.

Academic and Research Interests

I have two main fields of research: Latin literature of the first centuries BC and AD, and particularly how Roman authors of the period described the decline of Rome, and certain strands of contemporary linguistics and the philosophy of language and their application to ancient texts.

In my first book, Greek and Latin Expressions of Meaning: The Classical Origins of a Modern Metaphor (2016), I consider the different meanings of English verbs such as “to mean” and “to signify” (for example, “I mean X” and “this means X”) and look at how analogous expressions in Greek and Latin reveal the same polysemies. In the first part of the book I argue for the role of metaphorical and metonymical transference in the creation of the vocabulary of meaning; Greek and Roman authors used the same verbs to describe what inanimate things, including words and texts, meant or signified as they did of human beings in the act of meaning or signifying something. In the second part of the book, I focus on certain metaphorical extensions of this vocabulary and argue that they have implications for modern discussions of meaning, particularly in literary criticism.

My current project is a book entitled The Roman Rhetoric of Decline; here, I discuss the Roman fascination for describing Roman decline, be it due to collapsing morality, the succession of ages, or inherited guilt (to name but a few possibilities). Although such descriptions can be found early on in Roman literary history, one of the richest authors when it comes to studying this phenomenon is Horace, the poet of the new age under Augustus: his Odes and Epodes stand at the center of my study.

Besides this, I enjoy thinking about the textual points of contact between different authors; together with two German colleagues, Kathrin Winter and Martin Stöckinger, I organized a conference on the relationship between Horace and Seneca at Heidelberg in July 2015.

Selected Publications


Zanker, A. T. (2016) Greek and Latin Expressions of Meaning: The Classical Origins of a Modern Metaphor, Zetemata 151, Munich (Greek and Latin Expressions of Meaning, C.H.BECK

Articles and Book Chapters

Zanker, A. T. (forthcoming) “The Golden Age”, in: Zajko, V. (ed.): The Blackwell Companion to the Reception of Classical Myth, Malden (MA).

Zanker, A. T. (2016) “Vergil’s Sheep and Simonides, PMG 576”, Mnemosyne 69, 301-306.

Zanker, A. T. (2014) “Decline and Kunstprosa in Velleius Paterculus and Eduard Norden”, in: Formisano, M., Fuhrer, T. (eds.): Décadence: “Decline and Fall” or “Other Antiquity”?, Heidelberg, 299-324. 

Zanker, A. T. (2013)Expressions of Meaning and the Intention of the Text”, Classical Quarterly 63, 835-853.

Zanker, A. T. (2013) “Decline and Parainesis in Hesiod’s Race of Iron”, Rheinisches Museum 156, 1-19.

Zanker, A. T., Thorarinsson, G. (2011) “The Meanings of “Meaning” and Reception Studies”, Materiali e discussioni per l’analisi dei testi classici 67, 55-65.

Zanker, A. T. (2011) “The Term “Pessimism” and Scholarship on the Georgics”, Vergilius 57, 83-100.

Zanker, A. T. (2010) “Late Horatian Lyric and the Virgilian Golden Age”, American Journal of Philology 131, 495-516.

Zanker, A. T. (2009)  “A Dove and a Nightingale: Mahābhārata 3.130.18-3.131.32 and Hesiod, Works and Days 202-13”, Philologus 153, 10-25.