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Adele C. Scafuro Professor of Classics

Scafuro received her B.A. from Vassar College (English) and M.A. and Ph.D. (Classical Philology) from Yale University (thesis: 'Universal History and the Genres of Greek Historiography'). She has taught in the Classics Department at Brown University since 1983; before that, she taught for 3 years in the Departments of Classics and English at Vassar College. She resides in Massachusetts during the academic year and usually spends 2 or 3 summer months at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Brown Affiliations

research overview

Scafuro is broadly interested in Greek literature and history, especially in the intersections of law, civic institutions, social life, and performance. She has written on ancient law, Greek epigraphy, and literature (especially orators, drama, history). In 1997, The Forensic Stage: Settling Disputes in Graeco-Roman New Comedy, appeared. More recently (2011), her translation of 11 speeches of Demosthenes (accompanied by 12 essays) was published in the University of Texas series. In January 2014, The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy appeared; she co-edited the volume of 42 essays with Mike Fontaine; Scafuro contributed the Introduction and essays on fourth century comedy and Menander.

research statement

Scafuro has now been studying Athenian law for more than 25 years. In her book, The Forensic Stage: Settling Disputes in Graeco-Roman New Comedy, she compares the legal scenarios of New Comedy to those in the Attic orators and treats legal procedures both inside and outside the courtroom. She continues to be interested in the connections between law and drama and has written a number of essays over the last decade on the subject; (e.g., "The rigmarole of the parasite's contract for a prostitute in Asinaria: Legal documents in Plautus and his predecessors"; "When A Gesture Was Misinterpreted: DidÒnai tity‹on in Menander's Samia").

Recent essays include 'Keeping Record, Making Public: the Epigraphy of Government,' Blackwell's Companion to Ancient Greek Government; 'Roman Comedy and Renaissance Revenge Drama: Titus Andronicus as Exemplary Text'in S. Douglas Olson (ed.), Ancient Comedy and Reception. de Gruyter 2013; and 'Decrees for foreign judges: judging conventions— or epigraphic habits?' in preparation for Symposion 2013 Vorträge zur griechischen und hellenistischen Rechtsgeschichte (eds. Gagarin and Lanni).

In spending so much time studying Athenian law, she has become interested in many different and difficult problems (usually related to the fragmentary state of the sources). Right now she is finishing a study of the Athenian prosecutor called 'Justice and the polis: trials by decree in ancient Athens' for CUP. She believes she has demonstrated a greater flexibility than has hitherto been recognized in public procedure; in late 5th-century Athens, procedure is still developing, and some of the major public trials (the trials for impiety in 415, the non-trial of the Generals after Arginousai in 406, the trials against the "democratic conspirators" in 404) seem to shape investigative procedure in subsequent decades. Equally important, however, is the performative aspect that these trials exhibit in Athenian public and social discourse. Since the late 1990s, she has studied Greek epigraphy in connection with law in Athens and elsewhere in the Greek world; her interests in this discipline have deepened over the years.

Two new projects are epigraphic. One examines the iconography of crowning in honorary decrees in Athens (and probably elsewhere) called Reading Wreaths; she delivered a paper on the topic in Kyoto in March 2014. The other is a collaborative project with Dr. Andronike Makres, constructing an epigraphical corpus, 'Inscriptions of Messenia excluding Messene.'


Scafuro has been a Humboldt Fellow in Berlin and Munich; an International Guest at Leopold Wenger-Institut für antike Rechtsgeschichte und Papyrusforschung in Munich; a participant in meetings of Symposion zur griechischen und hellenistischen Rechtsgeschichte; and a frequent visitor to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (and Visiting Whitehead Professor in 2004-05). She lectured in Japan (Tokyo, Osako, Fukuoko) in March 2013 and 2014.

funded research

March 17-April 3, 2013: Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (University of Tokyo)

January 2012-June 2012: Loeb Classical Library Foundation Grant

Sept. 2004 –- May 2005
Visiting Whitehead Professorship, American School of Classical Studies at Athens (funded by ASCSA and Arete Foundation)

July – Aug. 2004
Humboldt Stiftung, 'Resumed fellowship' (Munich)

July 2003 – June 2004
ACLS (Munich)

May 2001 – Aug. 2003
Salomon Faculty Award (Brown University)

May 1997 – Aug. 1998
Salomon Faculty Award (Brown University)

Jan. - Aug. 1989
Humboldt Fellowship (Technische Universität, Berlin)

1987-1988
Junior Fellow, Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, D.C.

Summer 1987
Fulbright Fellowship, to participate in the summer seminar of the American Academy in Rome