Education, Teaching and the Defeat of Sparta

David took an MA in Classics from St. Andrews University, where (among other things) he was twice

president of the Classical Society, a member of the Chapel Choir, chief bell-ringer, the first person twice

to win the HJ Rose Memorial Prize for essay writing, and where he remained to work on a PhD

on Plutarch’s Symposiaka. As an undergraduate, he took part in an archaeological dig in Lakonia,

Greece, with Lord William Taylour. While there, he scored the only goal in a football match between

the archaeologists and locals, thanks to which he can claim victory over the Spartans. He subsequently

taught Classics for eleven years in Edinburgh, St. Andrews and York.


Represented by Bill Hamilton at A.M. Heath, David is a prolific author of books on classical history and literature.

His first book, AD 410, The Year That Shook Rome, co-authored with Sam Moorhead, published by The British Museum Press in 2010, was one of the Telegraph’s top four history recommendations for that year. Also in 2010, Duckworth published his Looking at Lysistrata. This was followed in 2012 by three books: Power Games (British Museum Press, about the Greek Olympics of 416 BC); The Romans Who Shaped Britain, co-written with Sam Moorhead (Thames and Hudson) and 31BC: Anthony, Cleopatra and The Fall of Egypt, also co-written with Sam Moorhead (British Museum Press).

In 2013 David’s Parthenon, Power and Politics on the Acropolis was published by the British Museum Press, with A History of Ancient Greece in 50 Lives (Thames & Hudson) and Looking at Medea (Bloomsbury Press) both out in 2014. His Looking at Bacchae (Bloomsbury Press) and A Traveller’s Guide to Greek Mythology (Thames & Hudson) were published in 2016, and his Looking at Antigone (Bloomsbury Press) in 2017. Nemesis: Alcibiades and the Fall of Athens (Harvard University Press) appeared in 2018. A Traveller’s Guide to Roman Mythology (Thames and Hudson), and Looking at Ajax (Bloomsbury Press) were both published in August 2019. David is currently writing Phoenix: Cimon and the Rise of Athens (Harvard University Press) and working on Looking at Agamemnon (Bloomsbury).

For more detailed material about David’s published works, please go to the ‘Writing’ page of this website.


In 1993, David founded the theatre company, Actors of Dionysus (aod), to perform productions of Greek drama throughout the UK and beyond, and for which he directed his own translations and adaptations of Greek tragedies, remaining with the company as Joint Artistic Director until 2004. His work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, his translation of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon was adopted as an Open University set text and his scripts have been performed throughout the world, as well as published by Bloomsbury.

Also with aod, David produced the Penguin Audiobook of Medea and a video, The Face of Tragedy, while his play Blow Your Mind, Aristophanes! premiered at London’s Mermaid Theatre in association with the British Film Institute and Channel 4, an event hosted by Tariq Ali. In 2003 and 2004, David produced Trojan Women and other plays for performance in ancient theatres in Turkey, Albania and Croatia, including at Troy, Pergamum, Ephesus, Aspendus, Butrint and Split. He still writes and directs for theatre and works on occasional events for aod. David’s  Trojan Trilogy, a reconstruction of Euripides’ lost production of 415 BC, premiered at The British Museum in 2007.

In May 2012, he devised a special event, featuring readings of his work at London’s Reform Club, performed by Jane Asher, Simon Russell Beale, Tom Conti and Fenella Fielding. This led to his spearheading the ‘aodEvents’ programme, which included readings of David’s reconstruction of Euripides’ Alexandros and Palamedes at Europe House, London (‘the best rehearsed reading I’ve ever attended’ Frank Perry, Literary Translator) as well as a performance of his Savage Beauty at London’s St James Theatre. Since August 2013, David has directed outdoor productions for aod at Spruce Wood, Kingston, Allington Castle, Kent and Osterley House, Isleworth.

In 2013 David curated two events (including a programme of readings) at The British Museum in association with their exhibition, Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, while in 2015 he curated a further two events linked to their exhibition on the Greek body, Defining Beauty. In 2019 he was invited to reprise his programme of readings as a curtain raiser for the Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition, Last Supper in Pompeii.

In 2014 he produced a CD of Sappho’s poetry, including readings by Fenella Fielding and songs by Emma Hetherington, while in September that year he directed poems and scenes for Classics in the City at London’s City Hall, introduced by the then Mayor, Boris Johnson. From 2016 till 2018 he worked with the Fenella Fielding and Stephen Greif, directing them in his ‘Just a Little Murder’, an anthology of Greek literature performed at (among other places) the St. James’ Theatre, Café Zedel, Home House, The Comedy Museum and The Tabard Theatre, London.

For more information, please go to the ‘Theatre’ page of this website.

Speaking, Teaching and Study Tours

An accredited lecturer for The Arts Society, David is an energetic champion of classics. He has led study tours to Italy, Greece and Turkey, and in 2016 lectured on board The World sailing from Chania in Crete to Haifa in Israel. In 2019, he and Sam Moorhead led a Dean’s Seminar to Athens for Goodenough College, London. David also writes for publications such as Minerva, The British Museum Magazine, All About History, History News Network and The Wall Street Journal.

David has served on the Council of the Roman Society and regularly chairs programmes of lectures on Greek tragedy. He speaks at a wide range of venues including The British Museum and The Ashmolean Museum, events including literary festivals such as Oxford and Cheltenham and forum discussions, where he has appeared alongside poets and dramatists such as Timberlake Wertenbaker, Liz Lochhead and David Grieg. He has filmed an interview with Bettany Hughes, and spoken at Heffers Classics Festival alongside Paul Cartledge, Tom Holland and Michael Scott. He regularly runs workshops on Greek drama throughout the UK, and has taught a course on Greek drama at the University of Cambridge. In October 2018, David was elected a Fellow of Goodenough College, London.

For more information, please go to the ‘Talks & Lectures’ page of this website.

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