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José M. González

Associate Professor of Classical Studies
Classical Studies
Box 90103, Durham, NC 27708-0103
230 Allen Building, Duke Box 90103, Durham, NC 27708
Office hours Zoom, by appointment.  


Classical antiquity is a marvelous stomping ground for a curious mind. Ever since I started to learn about ancient Greece and Rome, my passion for them has only grown. I am fascinated by the parallels and contrasts they offer to our own times and way of life. I have often found there the most searching and illuminating explorations of the central questions that define us as moral agents and as a free people. Vigorous engagement with the past is essential if we are to transcend the limitations of our horizons.

As a field of study, the Greco-Roman world strongly encourages, if it does not outright require, a rich fusion of various disciplinary approaches. This perfectly suits my natural intellectual temper. I feel a strong affinity and a deep sympathy with the fearless ancient souls who, undeterred by the magnitude of their questions, bravely searched for answers wherever they lay. Following the lead of a particular problem, I have often made my way into specialties, methodologies, and domains that I was little acquainted with before. I find that joyous discovery and learning do not exhaust wonder (as some read Aristotle to say): they excite it. I am convinced that the best engine for a scholar is a comprehensive curiosity and a passion to share his own enthusiasm and delight. To these, I strive to join a fearless and patient interrogating of the evidence, and the ambition to integrate the answers into wide-ranging syntheses.

My research focuses on Greek literature in its social context, with a strong emphasis on intellectual history. I am interested in the systemic evolution of culture through its artifacts, practices, and institutions, including its social performances and rituals. This, I call the diachrony of culture. A fundamental dynamic of this evolution is the reception of earlier stages by later cultural agents, a dynamic that is modulated expressively by the semantic device of markedness. Initially developed in the context of linguistic analysis, I find markedness essential to the understanding of the diachrony of culture.

My publications, teaching, and academic advising reflect the breadth of my interests. I have published on archaic Greek and Hellenistic poetry, Greek rhetoric, Greek philosophy, and Hebrew and Aramaic literature. I have directed dissertations on Democritus and Homer. And I regularly teach on Greco-Roman science and technology, Greco-Roman medicine, and Greek religion.

Areas of Interest

Greek poetry, archaic to Hellenistic. Ancient rhetoric and literary criticism. Performance studies. Greek religion, myth, and ritual. Historical linguistics and Greek dialects. Ancient commentaries and scholia.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Associate Professor of Classical Studies · 2016 - Present Classical Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Classical Studies · 2020 - Present Classical Studies, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Education, Training & Certifications

Harvard University · 2005 Ph.D.
Harvard University · 2000 M.A.
Princeton University · 1995 Ph.D.
Princeton University · 1991 M.A.
California Institute of Technology · 1989 B.S.