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Professor Phillip Horky


Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History
Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy


Phillip Horky is Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History and Co-Director of Durham Centre for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (DCAMP). His research concerns Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy, Ancient Political Theory, and Intellectual History. 

Prior to his arrival in Durham, Prof. Horky held postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies (2010-11), and Stanford University (2007-10). He has also held the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship at the National Humanities Center (2016) and been a distinguished visitor at the Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, University of Toronto (2016). Additionally, Prof. Horky was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2022-23) for a project on the philosophy of democracy in ancient Greece and Rome. 

Prof. Horky is Co-Investigator for the project 'Aristoteles Pezographos: The Writing Styles of Aristotle and their Contribution to the Evolution of Ancient Greek Prose' (Principal Investigator: Prof. Edith Hall FBA), which was awarded a UKRI Frontier Research Grant of £2.5 Million (2023-28). 

Prof. Horky is co-editor of two book series: a new series Cambridge Texts and Studies in Platonism, published by Cambridge University Press, and the series Greece & Rome New Surveys in the Classics, published by Cambridge University Press. 

Prof. Horky is Secretary of the Classical Committee and a Trustee for the Gilbert Murray Trust. He was a Member of the Council of the Hellenic Society (UK) from 2012-15, and a member of the Advisory Council for the Institute of Classical Studies in London from 2019-22. He is also a member of the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Prof. Horky has written a History of Ancient & Medieval Philosophy at Durham University, which can be accessed here. For an online interview with the philosophy magazine 3:16, see here.


Prof. Horky's first monograph, Plato and Pythagoreanism (Oxford University Press, 2013; paperback edition, with corrections, 2016), traced the importance of mathematical Pythagoreanism for the development of Plato's philosophy by focussing on the significance of Pythagorean metaphysics, physics, and politics, for (mostly) Plato's later dialogues.

His second monograph, Pythagorean Philosophy, 250 BCE to 200 CE: An Introduction and Collection of Sources in Translation (Cambridge University Press, completed draft under revision) is the first source book to provide a comprehensive account of Pythagorean philosophy after its dissolution in the mid-4th Century BCE. This book aims to rehabilitate post-Classical Pythagorean philosophy by tracing the shape of its development, accounting for its transformation in the context of Hellenistic and post-Hellenistic philosophy (including Platonism, Peripateticism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, and the rise of Christianity), and making the later texts, previously obscure, accessible to a wider audience.

Prof. Horky has also published an edited volume entitled Cosmos in the Ancient World (Cambridge University Press, 2019), which investigates notions of cosmic order, balance, and symmetry in ancient physics, politics, ethics, poetics, and aesthetics, from Pythagoras to Nonnus. 

In addition to various articles and book chapters under development, Prof. Horky is currently at work on three major research projects:

1) Aristoteles Pezographos (awarded £2.5 million by United Kingdom Research and Innovation, formerly ERC, 2023-28) is a 5-year research project dedicated to elucidating the theory and application of Aristotle's writing style/s, their relationship to his pedagogical and philosophical views, and their reception among later philosophical and scientific writers. This project seeks to bring Aristotle's writing and its influence out of the dusty tomes of 19th century German stylistics and into the 21st century. Prof. Horky is Co-Investigator of this major research project, which includes two postdoctoral fellows, and will involve reading and critically assessing almost all the corpus of Aristotle over a period of 5 years. He will eventually produce dedicated studies to the reception and transformation of the Aristotelian writing style/s in later authors, from Theophrastus to John Philoponus; he also aims to develop, at a later stage, a student-facing Greek edition with commentary on selections from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. 

2) Project Academy (awarded €25,000 by the Durham-Tϋbingen Joint Seedcorn Fund) is a partnership of scholars based in Durham and Tϋbingen, with the aim of developing a major initiative in the study of the Platonic tradition. The aim of this project will be to produce a series of critical editions, English and German translations, and commentaries of the fragments (and testimonies) of the members of Plato’s Academy (ca. 380–266 BCE). The initial stages of Project Academy have involved four workshops dedicated to exploring the key issues in producing a major set of editions of the members of the Early Academy. New editions emerging from Project Academy are expected to be published in the book series Cambridge Texts and Studies in Platonism (Cambridge University Press).

3) The Philosophy of Democracy in Antiquity (awarded £159,000 by the British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, 2022-23). Is philosophy antithetical to democracy? Scholars have asserted that ancient democrats never developed a systematic theory of democracy, and that all ancient philosophers were 'anti-democratic'. Yet since John Rawls' seminal A Theory of Justice (1971), we can speak of a contemporary 'philosophy of democracy' without fear of internal contradiction. Could something similar be hiding in plain sight in the ancient world? This project aims to illuminate and determine, for the first time, the parameters of the philosophy of democracy in ancient Greece and Rome. By tracking the history of popular rule and its advocates from the early 6th century BCE, with the legislation of Solon of Athens, through to the rise of the 'democratic' cosmopolis of Rome in the 2nd century CE, this project will elucidate the various philosophical arguments used to support popular rule (minimally) or the regime of democracy as such (maximally) in antiquity. The central aim of this project is to produce a monograph, The Philosophy of Democracy, and a volume of essays (co-edited with Dr Andrea Giannotti), entitled Democracy after Athens: Ancient Perspectives.

Doctoral Supervision

Prof. Horky is happy to supervise projects on Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy (especially the Presocratics, Plato and Platonism, Aristotle and Aristotelianism, and Pythagoreanism). He is interested in all topics of relevance to ancient philosophy (especially metaphysics, cosmology, epistemology, political theory, and ethics).

Current and former Ph.D. students supervised include:

Edoardo Benati (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa): The Pseudo-Platonic Definitions: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Commentary (Correlatore, with Mauro Tulli)

Nicolò BenziPhilosophy in Verse: Competition and Early Greek Philosophical Thought (First Supervisor)

Matilde Berti: The Relation of Parts and Wholes in Plato (First Supervisor)

Carlo CacciatoriPlato's Later Moral Epistemology (First Supervisor)

Giulia De CesarisAristotle's Account of Speusippus' and Xenocrates' Metaphysical and Epistemological Theories (First Supervisor)

Andrea Giannotti: The Pre-Play Ceremonies of the Athenian Dionysia: A Reappraisal (First Supervisor)

Maria Cristina MennutiDemonology in Antiquity: From post-Hellenistic Platonism to Christianity (First Supervisor)

Heidi Poole: Pythagoreanism and Roman Funerary Architecture (Co-first Supervisor, with Edmund Thomas)

Valerio RicciardiThe Architectonic Science: Politics and the Statesman’s Knowledge in Ancient Philosophy (Co-first Supervisor, with Nathan Gilbert)

Cesare SinattiThe Mind Through All Things: Stoic Cosmic Psychology and its Role in the Unification of the Cosmos (First Supervisor)

Schools Talks and Outreach

Prof. Horky believes strongly in the expansion and sustaining of Classics and Philosophy subjects at school and sixth-form levels. In July 2018, he organized a meeting to support Classics and Ancient Philosophy education in the North East for the Advocating Classics Education project, and from 2023 he is the Secretary of the Classics Committee for the Gilbert Murray Trust, a charity that supports Classics learning at school levels. He would be very happy to give school talks on topics related to Classical Civilisation and Ancient Philosophy, including Democracy and the Athenians and Socrates and Athens.

Access to Publications

To access Prof. Horky's publications, drafts of forthcoming papers, and current CV, please see his webpages at and Philpapers.

Research interests

  • Ancient Philosophy
  • Metaphysics & Epistemology
  • Cosmology
  • Intellectual History
  • Political Philosophy
  • Ancient Greek Literature


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Supervision students