Anthony A. Barrett

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Anthony Arthur Barrett
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Born (1941-07-30) July 30, 1941 (age 82)
Worthing, England
CitizenshipBritish, Canadian
  • Hookergate School
  • Durham University (King’s College)
  • Oxford University (St. John’s College)
  • Cambridge University (Sidney Sussex College)
  • Toronto University
OccupationClassical Scholar

Anthony Arthur Barrett (born July 30, 1941) is a British-Canadian Classical scholar and the author of several books on Roman antiquity.


Born near Worthing, Sussex, in 1941, Barrett grew up in the village of Rowlands Gill, County Durham.[1] He attended Hookergate School[2], then the University of Durham (King’s College), where he graduated in Latin in 1963. He subsequently studied Classics as a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Toronto [3] and Classical Archaeology at Oxford University (St. John’s College).[2] After retirement, he studied Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge University (Sidney Sussex College).

In 1968, he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in the Department of Classics (now the Department of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies), and was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor, then, in 1984, to Professor.[4] He served as Department Head from 1993 – 1998.[5] In 1987, he held a Visiting Fellowship at Clare College, Cambridge University.[1] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2000.[6] In 2002, he was awarded a two-year Killam Research Fellowship for work on Roman Imperial history.[7] In 2004, he received the title of Distinguished University Scholar of the University of British Columbia.[8] He retired in 2007 and currently resides in Heidelberg, Germany, where he has continued his research and has taught occasionally at Heidelberg University[9].

His academic research has focussed on Roman History and Archeology, with an emphasis on the early Roman Empire. He has written articles on Roman history and substantial monographs on the emperors and the imperial family. He produced a study of Caligula, which has been praised as a “remarkable book” by Israeli historian Zvi Yavetz.[10] He published the first detailed scholarly account of the Neronian Great Fire of Rome, which analyzes the historical significance and consequences of the fire as well as the evidence for it in the archaeological record. He argues that although the archaeological evidence suggests that the fire was less extensive than is popularly believed, the economic and political repercussions were enormous and contributed substantially to the demise of Rome’s first ruling dynasty, the Julio-Claudians.[11] His books have been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Czech, and Estonian. He has also produced translations and commentaries on Classical and Renaissance authors. A participant in archaeological excavations in Britain, he has written a number of articles on Roman Britain, and from 1988-2003 he directed the Archaeological Training Excavation at the Lunt Roman Fort near Coventry, England, which exposed the northern section of the western defences of the fort.[12] While in Vancouver, he was a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and has written on ancient astronomy. He showed that a supposedly modern standard observation technique, “averted vision,” was recorded nearly two and half thousand years ago by Aristotle.[13] He also developed an interest in the architect Francis Rattenbury, designer of some of the major landmarks of British Columbia, and co-authored a major study of his career,[14] as well as a Penguin volume on Rattenbury and the murder trial that followed his death, co-authored with the Attorney General of England and Wales, Sir Michael Havers (Baron Havers).[15]


  • Caligula: the Abuse of Power. London: Routledge, 2015.
  • Revised Edition of Caligula: the Corruption of Power. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.
  • Velleius Paterculus, Roman History. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2011. Coauthored by John Yardley.
  • Tacitus, Annals (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Oxford World’s Classics, 2008. Coauthored by John Yardley. ISBN 9780191539855.
  • Lives of the Caesars (ed.) Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. ISBN 9781405127547.
  • Janus Pannonius. Epigrammata. Budapest: Corvina, 1985.
  • The Rattenbury Case. London: Penguin Books, 1989. Coauthored by Sir Michael Havers and P. Shankland.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Canadian Who's Who - Search results Anthony Barrett". Retrieved 2023-10-14.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sillery, A.; Sillery, V. (1975). St. John's College Biographical Register 1919-1975. Vol. 3. Oxford: St. John’s College. p. 409.
  3. "Directory of Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows 1960 – 2002". Retrieved 2023-10-13.
  4. "Department of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies". Department of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies. Retrieved 2023-10-13.
  5. "Anthony Barrett | Scholar Profile | Peter Wall Institute". Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Retrieved 2023-10-14.
  6. "Member Directory". The Royal Society of Canada. Retrieved 2023-10-13.
  7. "Barrett". Canada Council Killam Laureates. Retrieved 2023-10-13.
  8. "Distinguished University Scholar Program | Vice President Academic".
  9. "SEMINARLEBEN". uni-Heidelberg (in Deutsch). October 13, 2023. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  10. Yavetz, Zvi (1996). "Caligula, Imperial Madness and Modern Historiography". Klio. De Gruyter. 78 (1): 105–129. doi:10.1524/klio.1996.78.1.105. ISSN 2192-7669.
  11. Preston, Diana (2020-11-19). "What was Nero really doing while Rome burned? Review". Washington Post. Retrieved 2023-10-13.
  12. Barrett, Anthony A.; Perry, J.G. (2018-04-04). "The Neronian Fort at the 'Lunt', Warwickshire". Echos du Monde Classique: Classical Views. University of Toronto Press. 33 (2): 255–262. ISSN 1913-5416. Retrieved 2023-10-13. | Barrett, Anthony; Perry, Jeffrey G. (2018-04-04). "Excavations at the Lunt Roman Fort (1988–91): The Western Defences". Echos du Monde Classique: Classical Views. University of Toronto Press. 36 (2): 201–209. ISSN 1913-5416. Retrieved 2023-10-13. }}
  13. Barrett, Anthony (1977). "Aristotle and Averted Vision". The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 71: 327. Retrieved 2023-10-13.
  14. Barrett, Anthony; Windsor Liscombe, Rhodri (March 1985). "Francis Rattenbury and British Columbia: Architecture and Challenge in the Imperial Age". The Antiquaries Journal. 65 (1): 206–207. doi:10.1017/S0003581500025348. Retrieved 2023-10-13.
  15. Morris, Terence (1991). "REVIEWS". The British Journal of Criminology. Oxford University Press. 31 (1): 86–92. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.bjc.a048087. ISSN 1464-3529.

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