D. Mark Possanza

  • Chair, Department of Classics
  • Associate Professor


1501 Cathedral of Learning


I began to study Latin as a high-school freshman at the Scranton Preparatory School in Scranton PA. The following year I started Ancient Greek. My teacher, Francis P. Long, a devoted educator and inspiring presence in the classroom, fostered in me a life-long interest in those languages and also introduced me to the world of the Greeks and Romans, a world that continues to fascinate with its richness, its complexity, its vast chronological and geographical span and its oftentimes terrifying strangeness. After high school I continued to study Classics, and again to my good fortune, I was able to do so with teachers who by their example made it clear beyond any doubt that scholarship must not only advance knowledge but must also communicate that knowledge effectively to others in and out of the classroom. Where will knowledge lead without access and opportunity?

My primary area of interest is the literature and history of the late Roman Republic and the beginning of the Principate established by the emperor Augustus, the period from 133 BCE to 14 CE. In that period both a political and literary revolution took place whose causes and consequences still demand investigation and interpretation.

The momentum of events, urban rioting, political assassination, civil war, the restoration of peace and the rule of law, is breathtaking; and the expressive power of the prose and poetry created in the midst of these events captures that momentum and the people caught up in it with a memorable immediacy and directness. 

Education & Training

  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1987
  • MA, Classics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • BA, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA

Representative Publications

Translating the Heavens: Aratus, Germanicus, and the Poetics of Latin Translation. Peter Lang 2004.

"Serpentine Constructions: Lucretius, De Rervm natvra 3.657.63." The Classical Quarterly, 64, pp 197-206 doi:10.1017/S0009838813000645

Sixteen articles in The Virgil Encyclopedia edited by Richard Thomas and Jan M. Ziolkowski. 3 vols. Wiley-Blackwell 2013.

“Ovid’s Works: Immortal Works and Material Texts” in the Blackwell Companion to Ovid ed. Peter Knox (2009): 311-326.

Research Interests

Latin Literature of the Roman Republic, Didactic Poetry, Textual Criticism and Transmission of Texts, Material Culture of the Book (roll and codex) before the invention of printing.

Research Category

What we've been up to lately

  • For four weeks in May, Dr. Carrie Weaver and 15 Pitt undergrads studied and traveled in Sicily through the Classics Department's Pitt in Sicily study abroad program. In the classroom, the students studied Greek archaeology and read works of ancient Greek literature that were directly connected to the island. On excursion, they circumnavigated Sicily and were able to experience first-hand many of the sites and objects that they learned about in class

  • This past June, Dr. Jacques A. Bromberg chaired a paper session at the second workshop on Conflict Resolution in Ancient and Modern Contexts: Theory and Genre at King’s College London (read about the workshop here). He was joined by colleagues from Colombia, Brazil, the UK, USA, Spain, and Germany in producing new research on how Classical literature exemplifies and showcases conflict resolution skills. In April, Dr. Bromberg attended the first workshop in Bogotá, Colombia, where he presented a paper entitled "Peace through Sport: Modern Lessons from Ancient Sources".

  • Dr. Nicholas F. Jones is now under contract to submit revised texts, translations, and commentaries for the recently inaugurated second edition of Brill’s New Jacoby (“BNJ2”). The first twenty-one entries will take him through a September 1, 2018 deadline, with the remaining (more substantial) authors to follow later on a new deadline.

  • Dr. Mae Smethurst Mae was invited by the Classics Department of the University of Kyoto to give two lectures - one on Euripides' "Medea", April 20th, and another on Sophocles' "Antigone", May 1tth, 2018.