Edward Watts

Professor Watts received his PhD in History from Yale University in 2002. His research interests center on the intellectual and religious history of the Roman Empire and the early Byzantine Empire. His first book, City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria (University of California Press, 2006), explains how the increasingly Christian upper class of the late antique world used a combination of economic and political pressures to neutralize pagan elements of the traditional educational system. City and School received the Outstanding Publication Award from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South in 2007. His second book, Riot in Alexandria: Historical Debate in Pagan and Christian Communities (University of California Press, 2010), uses Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac sources to reconstruct an Alexandrian riot that erupted in 486 AD. Riot received a 2010 PROSE Award Honorable Mention in Classics and Ancient History. His third book, The Final Pagan Generation (University of California Press, 2015) offers a generational history of the men born in the 310s that traces the experience of living through the fourth century’s dramatic religious and political changes. It was awarded the 2015 Phi Alpha Theta Best Subsequent Book Prize. His fourth book, Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher (Oxford University Press, 2017) recounts the life of an important female philosopher whose work redefined philosophy and whose death resonated as a symbol of dramatic religious and social change in the early fifth century. He is also the author of Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny (Basic Books, 2018).

In addition to these five books, he has co-edited five other volumes (From the Theodosians to the Tetrarchs [Cambridge, 2010]; Shifting Cultural Frontiers in Late Antiquity [Ashgate, 2012]; Freedom of Speech and Self Censorship in Late Antiquity [a special issue of the Revue Belge published in 2014]; Late Antique Letter Collections: A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide [University of California Press, 2016], and the Blackwell Companion to Late Antique Literature [Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming]. He has also authored more than 40 articles on topics ranging from the Old Academy in the fourth century BC to the relationship between orality and textuality in the early Byzantine period. He is currently preparing a monograph tracing the Romanization and de-Romanization of the Mediterranean world between 96 and 850 AD (The Rise and Fall of the Roman Nation, [Oxford University Press, forthcoming]) and is co-authoring a volume introducing the historical and classroom uses of Roman imperial coins. Before coming to UCSD in 2012, Professor Watts taught for ten years at Indiana University. Professor Watts teaches courses on Byzantine History, Roman History, Late Antique Christianity and paganism, Roman numismatics, and the history of the Medieval Mediterranean.

Dr. Watts was the director of the Center for Hellenic Studies from 2014-2016.


Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny, Basic Books, 2018

City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, University of California Press, 2006.

Riot in Alexandria: Tradition and Group Dynamics in Late Antique Pagan and Christian Communities, University of California Press, 2010.

The Final Pagan Generation, University of California Press, 2015.

Hypatia: An Ordinary Life, Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

Edited Volumes

From the Tetrarchs to the Theodosians: Essays on Later Roman History and Culture, 284-450 CE, co-edited with Cristiana Sogno and Scott McGill (Cambridge, 2010).

Shifting Cultural Frontiers in Late Antiquity, co-editied with David Brakke and Deborah Deliyannis, (Ashgate Publishing, 2012).

Freedom of Speech and Self-Censorship in Late Antiquity (a special issue of the Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire), co-edited with Lieve Van Hoof, (vol. 92, 2014).

Collected Epistolography in Late Antiquity, co-edited with Brad Storin and Cristiana Sogno, (UC Press, forthcoming). 

Handbook to Late Antique Literature, co-edited with Scott McGill, (Blackwell, forthcoming). 

Articles and Book Chapters

“Introduction to Late Antique Literature,” (with Scott McGill), in The Blackwell Companion to Late Antique Literature, eds. McGill and Watts, (Blackwell, forthcoming).

“Composition: The Oral and the Textual,” in The Blackwell Companion to Late Antique Literature, eds. McGill and Watts, (Blackwell, forthcoming).

“Epistolography,” (with Cristiana Sogno), in The Blackwell Companion to Late Antique Literature, eds. McGill and Watts, (Blackwell, forthcoming).

“An Introduction to Letter Collections in Late Antiquity,” (with Cristiana Sogno and Brad Storin), in Collected Epistolography in Late Antiquity, eds. Sogno, Storin, and Watts, (University of California Press, forthcoming).

“The Anthologizing of Aeneas of Gaza,” in Collected Epistolography in Late Antiquity, eds. Sogno, Storin, and Watts, (University of California Press, forthcoming).

“Teaching the New Classics: Bible and Biography in a Pachomian Monastery,” in Education and Religion in Late Antiquity, eds. P. Gemeinhardt and P. van Nuffelen, (Ashgate, forthcoming).

“Constantinopolitan Lycians at the turn of the fifth century: The Career of Patricius, the Father of Proclus,” under review.

“Himerius’ Oration 8 and the Personalization of the Monody,” in Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity X, ed. G. Greatrex, (Ashgate, forthcoming). 

“Ordering Intellectual Life,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila, ed. M. Maas, (Cambridge, forthcoming).

“Dioscorus as a Paradigm of Resistance in Early Anti-Chalcedonian Literature,” (Hugoye, forthcoming).

 “Hypatia’s Sisters: Female Philosophers in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries,” in Within the Circle of Ancient Ideas and Virtues, (Cracow, forthcoming).

“Christianization,” in Late Ancient Knowing, ed. C. Chin and M. Vidas, (University of California Press, forthcoming).               

“Athenian Elite Self-Presentation and the Durability of Traditional Cult in Late Antiquity,” in Late Roman Cities: Identities, Buildings, and Beliefs, ed. P. Rousseau, (Washington, DC, forthcoming).

“The Historical Context: The Rhetorical Use of Suffering in Libanius’ Monodies, Letters, and Autobiography,” in The Cambridge Companion to Libanius, ed. L. van Hoof, (Cambridge, 2014).

“Freedom of Speech and Self-Censorship in the Roman Empire,” in Freedom of Speech and Self-Censorship in Late Antiquity (a special issue of the Revue Belge), co-edited with Lieve Van Hoof, (vol. 92, 2014), forthcoming.

“Damascius’ Isidore: A Perfectly Imperfect Philosophical Exemplar,” Byzantina et Slavica Cracoviensia 7 (2014), .

“Libanius on Theodosian-Era Temple Violence: Rhetoric and Reality,” in Le vie del sapere nell'area siro -mesopotamica de 3rd al 12th  century, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 293, ed. C. Noce, et al., (Rome, 2013), pp. 105-114.

“Theodosius II in Egyptian Anti-Chalcedonian Literature,” in Images of Theodosius II, ed. R. Flower and C. Kelly, (Cambridge, 2013), pp. 269-84.

“Speaking, Thinking, and Socializing: Education in Late Antiquity,” in The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, ed. S. Johnson, (Oxford, 2012), pp. 467-486.

“Translating the Personal Aspect of Late Platonism in the Commentary Tradition,” in Translation and Christianization—Origins of the Latin and Syriac Commentary Tradition, ed. J. Watt and J. Lössl, (Ashgate, 2011), pp. 137-151.

“Doctrine, Anecdote, and Action: Reconsidering the Social History of the Last Platonists (c. 430-c. 550 CE),”Classical Philology 106 (2011), pp. 226-244.

“John Rufus, Timothy Aelurus and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire,” in Romans, Barbarians, and the Transformation of the Roman World, eds. R. Mathisen and D. Shanzer, (Ashgate, 2011), pp. 97-106.

“Three Generations of Christian Philosophical Biography,” in From the Tetrarchs to the Theodosians: Essays on Later Roman History and Culture, 284-450 CE, eds. S. McGill, C. Sogno, and E. Watts, (Cambridge, 2010), pp. 117-33.

“The Enduring Legacy of the Iatrosophist Gessius,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 49 (2009), pp. 113-134.

"Interpreting Catastrophe: Disasters in the historical works of Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite, Socrates, Philostorgius, and Timothy Aelurus," Journal of Late Antiquity 2.1 (2009), pp. 79-98.

“Creating the Academy: Historical Discourse and the Shape of Community in the Old Academy,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 127 (2007), pp. 106-22.

“Creating the Ascetic and Sophistic Mélange: Zacharias Scholasticus and the intellectual influence of Aeneas of Gaza and John Rufus,” ARAM 18-9 (2006-7), pp. 153-64.

“The Murder of Hypatia: Acceptable or Unacceptable Violence,” in Violence in Antiquity, ed. H. A. Drake, (Ashgate, 2006), pp. 333-42.

“Winning the Intracommunal Dialogues: Zacharias Scholasticus’ Life of Severus,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 13.4 (2005), pp. 437-65.

“Where to Live the Philosophical Life in the Sixth Century: Damascius, Simplicius, and the Return from Persia,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 45 (2005), pp. 285-315.

“Orality and Communal Identity in Eunapius’ Lives of the Sophists and Philosophers,” Byzantion 75 (2005), pp. 334-61.

“The Student Self in Late Antiquity,” in Religion and the Self in Antiquity, eds. David Brakke et al., (Bloomington, IN, 2005), pp. 234-52.

“An Alexandrian Christian Response to Fifth-century Neoplatonic Influence,” in The Philosopher and Society in Late Antiquity: Essays in Honour of Peter Brown, ed. Andrew Smith, (Swansea, 2005), pp. 215-229.

“Justinian, Malalas, and the End of Athenian Philosophical teaching in A.D. 529,” Journal of Roman Studies94 (2004), pp. 168-83.

“Student Travel to Intellectual Centers: What was the Attraction?,” in Travel, Communication and Geography in Late Antiquity, ed. Linda Ellis and Frank L. Kidner, (Ashgate, 2004), pp. 13-23.

“The Late Antique Student’s Perspective on Educational Life,” New England Classical Journal 27 (2000), pp. 73-78.

“The Motifs of Imperial Authority in the Portraiture of Arcadius,” Brown Classical Journal 11 (1997), pp. 29-34.

  • Byzantine History
  • Roman History
  • Greek Intellectual Culture from the Second Sophistic to the Reign of Heraclius
  • Late Antique Religious, Social, and Intellectual History
  • Coptic Christianity
  • Byzantine History
  • Roman History
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Medieval Mediterranean
  • Late Antique Paganism
  • The Last Pagan Generation
  • The Making of Late Antiquity 
  • The Late Antique Near East
  • Anti-Chalcedonian Egypt
  • Humanities 2
  • Coinage and Panegyric in the Fourth Century