Please find listed below members of the Network and scholars currently working on politeness in the ancient world.


Professor Eleanor Dickey (Reading University).

Eleanor Dickey is Professor of Classics at the University of Reading. Her studies of the sociolinguistics of Latin and Greek includes work on politeness in both languages, particularly request formulae and forms of address; she has also examined how Greek politeness was altered by the Roman conquest and the resulting need to be polite in ways that the Greek speakers’ new masters would understand. She was born in the US in 1967 and educated at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania before coming to Oxford for graduate work; she has taught at the University of Ottawa in Canada, Columbia University in New York, and the University of Exeter in England before moving to Reading in 2013. Further information and copies of some of her publications are available at



Dickey, E., Latin Forms of Address: From Plautus to Apuleius (Oxford University Press 2002).

Dickey, E., Greek Forms of Address: From Herodotus to Lucian (Oxford University Press 1996).

Dickey, E., ‘How to say “please” in Classical Latin’, Classical Quarterly 62 (2012): 731–48 (

Dickey, E., ‘The rules of politeness and Latin request formulae’, in P. Probert and A. Willi (edd.), Laws and Rules in Indo-European (Oxford University Press 2012) 313–28.

Dickey, E., ‘Forms of Address and Markers of Status’, in E. Bakker (ed.), A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language (Blackwell 2010) 327–37.

Dickey, E., ‘Latin Influence and Greek Request Formulae’, in T.V. Evans and D. Obbink (edd.), The Language of the Papyri (Oxford University Press 2009) 208–20.

Dickey, E., ‘The Use of Latin sis as a focus-marking clitic particle’, Oxford University Working Papers in Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics 11: 21–5 ( [This one is relevant because sis is often translated ‘please’ in English and thought to be a polite form; in this piece I demonstrate that synchronically it is not polite in extant Latin literature, though no doubt it was at an earlier period.]

Dickey, E., ‘The Greek Address System of the Roman Period and its Relationship to Latin’, Classical Quarterly 54 (2004): 494–527.

Dickey, E., ‘Literal and Extended use of Kinship Terms in Documentary Papyri’, Mnemosyne 57 (2004) 131–76. [This one is relevant because some of the ‘extended’ uses are politeness devices.]

Dickey, E., ‘Kyrie, Despota, Domine: Greek Politeness in the Roman Empire’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 121 (2001): 1–11.


Dr Michael Lloyd (University College Dublin).

I am Associate Professor of Greek Language and Literature at University College Dublin. My profile can be found at

My publications on politeness are as follows:

1) ‘The tragic aorist’, Classical Quarterly 49 (1999), 24–45

2) ‘The politeness of Achilles: off-record conversation strategies in Homer and the meaning of kertomia’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 124 (2004), 75–89

3) ‘Sophocles in the light of face-threat politeness theory’, in I.J.F. de Jong & A. Rijksbaron (eds.), Sophocles and the Greek Language (Mnemosyne Supplements, 269; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 225–39

4) ‘The language of the gods: politeness in the prologue of the Troades’, in J.R.C. Cousland & James R. Hume (eds.), The Play of Texts and Fragments: Essays in Honour of Martin Cropp (Mnemosyne Supplements, 314; Leiden: Brill, 2009), 183–92

5) ‘Deference’ and ‘Politeness’, in H. Roisman (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Greek Tragedy (Malden MA, Oxford, and Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).


Dr Alexey Lyavdansky (Russian State University for the Humanities)

I am Assistant Professor of Classical Hebrew and Aramaic at Russian State University for the Humanities. My papers can be found at

My publications related to the issues of linguistic politeness are:

Lyavdansky, A. (2012) ‘Discourse Particles in Biblical Hebrew Directives’. Judaica Ukrainica 1: 31–52.

Lyavdansky, A. (2010) ‘Temporal Deictic Adverbs as Discourse Markers in Hebrew, Aramaic and Akkadian’. Journal of Language Relationship 3: 22–42.


Dr Kim Ridealgh (University of East Anglia)

My lectureship at UEA is in Socio-linguistics, specialising in Ancient Egyptian. My profile can be found at

My key publications in the area of politeness are:

Ridealgh, K. (2013) “Yes Sir! An Analysis of the Superior/Subordinate Relationship in the Late Ramesside Letters”. Lingua Aegyptia: Journal of Egyptian Language Studies 21: 181-206.

Ridealgh, K. (2013) “You Do Not Listen to Me! Face-work and the Position of ‘Senior’ Scribe of the Necropolis”. Journal of Ancient Civilizations  28. 22-40.

Ridealgh, K. (2011) “Yes Dear! Spousal Dynamics in the Late Ramesside Letters”. In: Current Research in Egyptology 2010: Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Symposium. Oxbow. 124-130.

Dr Giada Sorrentino

I studied Greek and Latin Philology at the Universities of Siena and Basel and wrote my PhD thesis in Greek Philology at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau.

In my dissertation, entitled “Comunicazione e relazioni interpersonali nelle commedie di Menandro. Un’indagine sul Dyscolos e sulla Samia”, I investigated the communicative aspect of the interpersonal relationships that lie at the core of the two best preserved Menandrean plays. My goal was to show how verbal interaction between the characters embodies the functioning, the problems and the transformations in each of the on-stage relationships. In order to do so, I analysed from a pragmatic point of view the dialogues between the protagonists of the two comedies with a special attention to the speech acts the interactants perform and the politeness or impoliteness strategies they use to modify them.

Such an analysis was able to further the understanding of the fictional figures’ characterization in Dyscolus and Samia. I showed that they are characterized not only through lexical and syntactical means, but also at a pragmatic level: the protagonists often tend toward specific behavioural patterns in their interaction with others and show preference for particular speech acts and modalities to either weaken or strengthen their face-threatening power. Moreover, I showed that verbal interaction is, in dramatic fiction, the preferred means through which characters in the plot express, negotiate and modify their roles within the different interpersonal relationships. The interactional behaviour of the characters within each storyline allowed me to clarify some controversial questions regarding their relationships.

One of the most important methodological problems posed by such a study was to apply categories and analytical tools that have been developed to investigate modern languages and everyday conversation to verbal interaction in ancient fiction. I needed to take into consideration the information available about social norms regulating the common communicative practices in Menander’s own society. It was also important to take into account the conventions of Greek drama (such as meter, the use of masks, etc.), which exercised a strong influence over the shape of the texts and thus the presentation of the characters’ verbal behaviour.

PhD thesis “Comunicazione e relazioni interpersonali nelle commedie di Menandro”, on the web at the address

Article “Comunicare il rifiuto di comunicare: comportamenti dialogici del protagonista del Dyscolos di Menandro” (in preparation).

Talk: “Der Mantel und das Schwert. Die Vater-Sohn Kommunikation im 5. Akt der Samia Menanders”, held at the meeting “36. Metageitnia” of the University of Tübingen, January 23 2015.

My profile can be found at

Dr. Christopher Handy

I have PhD in Religious Studies from McMaster University. My dissertation focuses on the concept of etiquette in early Indian Buddhist monastic law texts. These texts were composed in Sanskrit and are sometimes also available to us in classical Chinese and Tibetan. My research suggests that many of the rules for proper monastic behaviour in these texts are inherited from a majority Brahmin cultural aesthetic, and are not directly associated with a specifically Buddhist ethical doctrine. I argue that a more appropriate way to explain the origins and meaning of these rules involves consideration of specifically Indian notions concerning the emotion of disgust, and how to mediate this disgust by way of performative utterances. I have an ongoing interest in research concerning normative behaviour, Buddhist culture, and aesthetic theory.

Doctoral Candidates

Marco Catrambone (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa).

I am a PhD Student in Greek Philology/Literature at Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa. My research project is a study of Politeness Strategies in Sophocles’ works, with particular attention to line-by-line dialogue (stichomythia). Basically I am testing Brown-Levinsonian approach and trying to make safer and more detailed conclusion about the general level of strategies employed in communications that involve significant dyads of speakers, either gendered and gender-cross interactions. Tragic dialogue seems a privileged place for such analysis to be conducted.

My CV and academic activity are recorded on my personal webpage (

Federica Iurescia (Siena University).

I am interested in verbal expressions of conflict in Latin (primarily literary) texts; this broad definition comprises many various forms, such as e.g. abuses, invectives, trials and quarrels. Within this gamut I am particularly interested in quarrels; my aim is looking at this kind of conflict communication from a pragmatic perspective, in order to highlight the linguistic techniques commonly found in Latin texts to convey offence.

Thanks to a DAAD Scholarship at Freie Universität Berlin in 2011-2012, I applied this approach at first to two episodes in the Satires of Horace, namely 1, 5, 51-70 and 1, 7. Then, I studied the linguistic techniques used in unsettling the interlocutor during a quarrel, choosing as main examples two Plautine comedies, namely Bacchides and Miles gloriosus.

I became interested in the complex interplay between negative emotions – i.e. emotions, whose experience is not welcome – and linguistic strategies exploited during a quarrel to win over the interlocutor; in June 2013 I took part to the Colloquium ‘Emotion and Persuasion in Classical Antiquity’, hosted by the Royal Holloway University of London, with a paper dealing with this topic (‘Strategies of persuasion in provoked quarrels in Plautus: a pragmatic perspective‘).

I am currently writing a dissertation about linguistic strategies in quarrels as represented in Latin literary texts; the theoretical framework I decided to adopt in studying this topic is that of impoliteness theories. Moving from politeness theories, the studies on impoliteness (e.g. Bousfield 2008, Culpeper 2011) focus on interactions in which the language is used to cause offence, which is precisely the kind of interaction displayed in a quarrel. The current studies on impoliteness deal with modern, nowadays spoken, languages; on an historical perspective, I am interested in how to apply to Latin the theoretical tools and frameworks these studies have developed for modern languages.

Francesco Mari (Université de Strasbourg – Università degli Studi di Genova)

PhD student in Ancient Greek History,

Directors: Dominque Lenfant & Francesca Gazzano

Thesis title: Politesse et savoir-vivre en Grèce ancienne

My research deals with the concept of politeness taken in its broadest sense, which includes the language but also gestures, attitudes and specific practices of interaction on which can concentrate social judgement towards a single individual. The study aims at understanding the ancient Greek code of behaviour, its logic, main concerns and evolution without adopting moral categories. Instead, I chose to develop a more sociological working model, based on Erving Goffman early work (The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life, Garden City, 1959 and Interaction Ritual, Harmondsworth, 1972) and recalibrated and adjusted in order to fit Greek ideas of schema, tropon, kosmos and prepon. I use such an operational category to read ancient literary sources from Homer to Plato and analyse different social situations and the interaction strategy that every actor adopts in order to achieve success.




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