Mr William Coles

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Personal profile

Research Interests 

  • Greek epigraphy
  • Greek historiography
  • Late Classical and Hellenistic history
  • Oratory and rhetoric 

Doctoral Research

My AHRC funded doctoral thesis explores the rhetorical strategies of Greek envoys in the Hellenistic Period. The project focuses on the following research questions:

  • Are the envoys' speeches in Polybios mainly a product of a generic convention established in the Classical Period by earlier historiographers such as Herodotos, Thucydides and Xenophon? Or do they reflect an attempt to represent oratory as it was practised in Polybios’ own day in the Hellenistic period?
  • In what ways do the hundreds of Hellenistic inscriptions containing summaries of ambassadors’ oratory contribute to our knowledge of envoy speeches in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC? Of particular interest will be the question of how far the summaries of speeches complement or contradict the evidence of Polybios.


  • CL1550: Greek History and the City State (2019/20)
  • CL1580: Introduction to Greek Archaeology (2018/19 and 2019/20)

Educational History

  • MA Classics (Lond)
  • BA Ancient History (Lond)

Scholarships and Awards

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council studentship via the TECHNE DTP (2017-present)
  • Classical Association Conference Half-Bursary (2017)
  • Department of Classics Masters Scholarship (2016)
  • The Andrew Leno Memorial Prize for Ancient History (2016)
  • The Driver Prize (2015)
  • The Bedford Excellence Scholarship (2013)

Conferences and Seminars

  • 'Polybios, Doublespeak, and Achaian Politics' - 15th Congress of the Féderation international des associations d'études classiques and the Classical Association annual conference, University College London, 06/07/19
  • 'Classifying Envoys' Speeches' - Department of Classics Research Day, Royal Holloway, University of London, 11/05/18
  • 'Paradeigmata and Precedents in Hellenistic Diplomacy' - Classical Association Annual Conference, University of Leicester, 07/04/18.
  • 'The Storm in the West: Paradeigmata between Greece and Rome' - Post Graduate Work in Progress Seminar, Institute of Classical Studies, University of London, 10/11/17.
  • 'Tyrants and Liberators: Traditional Greek political sound bites in Polybios' Histories' - Lyceum Classics Community Seminar, University College London, 07/12/16.

Outreach Presentations

  • 'Studying the Ancient World at University' - Shrewsbury Sixth Form College Classics Day, 20/03/18.
  • 'The Imperial Image of the Emperor Augustus' - Shrewsbury Sixth Form College Classics Day, 20/03/18.


  • Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies.
  • Roman Society.
  • British Epigraphy Society.

Other Activities 

  • (2018-19) Co-chair Postgraduate Work-in-Progress Seminar series at the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London.
  • (2017-18) First year PhD representitive on the Postgraduate Student-Staff Committee (Department of Classics).
  • (2018-19) Second year PhD representitive on the Postgraduate Student-Staff Committee (Department of Classics.)
  • (2019-20) Classics PhD representitive on the Postgraduate Student-Staff Committee (School of Humanities).
  • I am an administrator on the Centre for Oratory and Rhetoric's Twitter account, @COR_RHUL.

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