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Verity Platt

Professor, on leave Spring 2018

Goldwin Smith Hall, Room 128



Professor Platt received her DPhil in Classics from Oxford University, and also has a Masters in Classical Art History from the Courtauld Institute, London. She joined the Classics and History of Art departments at Cornell in 2010, and previously taught at the University of Chicago, following a post-doctoral research fellowship at University College, Oxford. 

Professor Platt welcomes applications from graduate students in both Classics and Art History, working in all areas of ancient visual culture, as well as the intersection of visual, material and literary studies.


Classical art historyThe historiography of ancient artText and object/word and imageRoman painting and sarcophagiArt and religionHellenistic and Imperial Greek literaturePliny the Elder


  • Archaeology Program
  • Classics
  • History of Art and Visual Studies

Graduate Fields

  • Archaeology
  • Classics
  • History of Art, Archaeology and Visual Studies


I specialize in Greek and Roman art history, and have a particular interest in the relationship between ancient literary and visual cultures, especially in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

My research and publications focus on the material and visual culture of religion; the relationship between images and texts; ancient theories of representation and sense-perception; creative lives and the concept of the artist; Roman wall-painting and funerary art; Graeco-Roman seal-stones; and Greek literature under the Roman Empire.

My current book project, Beyond Ekphrasis: Making Objects Matter in Classical Antiquity, explores the ways in which Hellenistic and Roman texts address the materiality, facture and haptic qualities of works of art, in relation to ancient models of sense-perception. Moving beyond the concepts of description and imitation, which have dominated so much scholarship on the text-image relationship in antiquity, it focuses in particular on the language of the impression and narratives of making, addressing the verbal and conceptual strategies that authors employ when dealing with the physicality of art objects.


Books and Edited Volumes:

  • Facing the Gods: Epiphany and Representation in Graeco-Roman Art, Literature and Religion. Cambridge. 2011.
  • The Art of Art History in Graeco-Roman Antiquity" special edition of Arethusa, co-edited with M. Squire (Vol. 43.2, Spring 2010).
  • The Frame in Greek and Roman Art: A Cultural History, co-edited with M. Squire, Cambridge. 2017. 
  • Beyond Ekphrasis: Making Objects Matter in Classical Antiquity. In progress.


      • "Viewing, Desiring, Believing: Confronting the Divine in a Pompeian House", Art History, vol. 25 no. 1 (Feb., 2002), 87-112.
      • "Evasive Epiphany in Ekphrastic Epigram," Ramus 31, volu.1 (2002), 33-50.
      • "Shattered Visages: Speaking Statues from the Ancient World", Apollo (July, 2003), 9-14. 
      • "Making an Impression: Replication and the Ontology of the Graeco-Roman Seal Stone", Art History, special edition on "Replication in Ancient Art", 29.2 (April, 2006), 233-57. 
      • "Honour Takes Wing: Unstable Images and Anxious Orators in the Greek Tradition", in Z. Newby and R. Leader-Newby (eds.), Art and Inscriptions in the Ancient World, Cambridge University Press (2006), 247-71.
      • "Burning Butterflies: Seals, Symbols and the Soul in Antiquity", in L. Gilmour (ed.), Pagans and Christians - from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, British Archaeological Reports series, Archaeopress (2007), 89-99. 
      • "Virtual Visions: Phantasia and the Perception of the Divine in Philostratus" Life of Apollonius of Tyana", in E. L. Bowie and J. Elsner (eds.), Philostratus, Cambridge University Press (2009), 131-54. 
      • "Where The Wild Things Are: Locating the Marvellous in Augustan Wall-Painting", for P. Hardie (ed.), Paradox and the Marvellous in Augustan Literature and Culture, Oxford University Press (2009), 41-74. 
      • "Viewing the Past: Cinematic Paideia in the Caverns of Macedonia," in Responses to Oliver Stone's Alexander. Film, History and Cultural Studies, edited by P. Cartledge and F. Rose Greenland, Cambridge University Press (2010), 285-304. 
      • "Art History in the Temple," Arethusa, vol. 43.2 (Spring 2010), 197-213. 
      • "Framing the Dead on Roman Sarcophagi," RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 61/62, Spring/Autumn 2012: 213-27.
      • "Likeness and Likelihood in Classical Greek Art," in V. Wohl (ed.) EIKOS. Probabilities, Hypotheticals, and Counterfactuals in Ancient Greek Thought. Cambridge University Press (2014), 185-207. 
      • "Agamemnon's Grief: on the Limits of Expression in Roman Rhetoric and Painting," in J. Elsner and M. Meyer (eds.), Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture. Cambridge University Press (2014), 211-31.
      • “Epiphanies,” in The Oxford Handbook of Greek Religion, eds. E. Eidinow and J. Kindt, Oxford University Press (2015), 491-504.
      • “The Artist as Anecdote: Creating Creators in Ancient Texts and Modern Art History,” in J. Haninck and R. Fletcher (eds.), Creative Lives in the Ancient World, Cambridge University Press (2016).
      • “The Matter of Classical Art History”, in What’s New About the Old? Reassessing the Ancient World, Daedalus special issue guest-edited by M. Santirocco (Spring 2016).
      • “Sight and the Gods: On the Desire to See Naked Nymphs,” in M. Squire (ed.), Sight and the Ancient Senses. The Senses in Antiquity, Vol. 4, Routledge (2015), 169-87.
      • “Framing the Visual in Greco-Roman Antiquity: an Introduction”, in V. Platt and M. Squire (eds.), Framing the Visual in Greek and Roman Antiquity. Cambridge University Press (co-authored with M. Squire). Cambridge, 2017.
      • "Silent Bones and Singing Stones: Materializing the Poetic Corpus in Hellenistic Greece", in N. Goldschmidt and B. Graziosi (eds.), Tombs of the Poets: Between Text and Material Culture (forthcoming).