College of Arts and Sciences

Classical Studies

Jonathan L. Ready

Jonathan L. Ready

Associate Professor, Department of Classical Studies
Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Classical Studies
Director, Program in Ancient Studies
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology
Morrison Hall 330

Curriculum Vitae


  • B.A. at Yale University, 1998
  • M.A. at University of California, Berkeley, 2000
  • Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley, 2004

Research Interests

  • Greek Language and Literature
  • Homeric Poetry
  • Narrative Theory and Folkloristic Approaches to Ancient Texts


My research interests are in ancient Greek culture and literature with an emphasis on Homeric poetry. I come at the Homeric epics from the perspectives offered by narrative theory and folkloristics. My first book, Character, Narrator, and Simile in the Iliad (Cambridge UP, 2011), is the first large-scale examination of similes spoken by Homeric characters. I argue that similes function as sites and mechanisms of competition not only between the characters but also between the characters and the narrator. My second book, The Homeric Simile in Comparative Perspectives: Oral Traditions from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia (Oxford UP, 2018), uses detailed analyses of modern oral poetries and oral traditions to offer a new take on how our Homeric poets put together their similes and a new take on how our Homeric poets strove to show their competence as performers: success was not just a matter of standing apart from but of standing with their fellow poets, of doing what other Homeric poets were doing. My third book, Orality, Textuality, and the Homeric Epics: An Interdisciplinary Study of Oral Texts, Dictated Texts, and Wild Texts (forthcoming from Oxford UP, 2019), explores the complex history of Homeric texts long before the emergence of standardized written texts. I co-edit the Yearbook of Ancient Greek Epic (Brill) with Christos Tsagalis of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and Christos and I also co-edited Homer in Performance: Rhapsodes, Narrators, and Characters (Univ. of Texas Press, 2018).

I have begun work on a monograph on characters and characterization in Homeric epic. This book will cover a range of subjects, such as the differences between characters in oral traditional works and characters in literary works, the effects of Homeric characters' being transmedial and transtextual, and the application of research in so-called 4E cognition to the study of Homeric characters. I also plan to write a monograph on minor characters in Homer, Herodotus, and Euripides.

Pdfs of several of my articles and book chapters are available on

Courses Recently Taught

  • Survey of Greek Literature I (Poetry) and II (Prose)
  • Classical Drama
  • Classical Epics
  • Ancient Greek Culture
  • Beginning Greek I and II
  • Advanced Greek (Homer)
  • Advanced Greek (Aristophanes)
  • Greek Prose Composition

Publication Highlights


Orality, Textuality, and the Homeric Epics: An Interdisciplinary Study of Oral Texts, Dictated Texts, and Wild Texts
(Oxford University Press [Oxford], in production, forthcoming 2019)

The Homeric Simile in Comparative Perspectives: Oral Traditions from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia
(Oxford University Press [Oxford], 2018).

Character, Narrator, and Simile in the Iliad
(Cambridge University Press [New York], 2011).


“The Epiphany at Iliad 4.73-84,” Hermes 145 (2017): 24-40.

“The Textualization of Homeric Epic by Means of Dictation,” TAPA (formerly Transactions of the American Philological Association)145.1 (2015): 1-75.    

“ATU 974 The Homecoming Husband, the Returns of Odysseus, and the End of Odyssey 21," Arethusa 47.3 (2014): 265-85.

“Omens and Messages in the Iliad and Odyssey: A Study in Transmission,” in Between Orality and Literacy: Communication and Adaptation in Antiquity (Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World, vol. 10), ed. Ruth Scodel (Brill, 2014): 29-55.

"Zeus, Ancient Near Eastern Notions of Divine Incomparability, and Similes in the Homeric Epics," Classical Antiquity 31.1 (2012): 56-91.

"Comparative Perspectives on the Composition of the Homeric Simile," in Orality, Literacy, Performance in the Ancient World (Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World, vol. 9), ed. E. Minchin (Brill, 2012): 55-87.

"Why Odysseus Strings His Bow," Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 50.2 (2010): 133-157.

"The Comparative Spectrum in Homer,” American Journal of Philology 129.4 (2008): 453-496.

“Toil and Trouble: The Acquisition of Spoils in the Iliad,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 137.1 (2007): 3-43.

“Homer, Hesiod, and the Epic Tradition,” in The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece, ed. H. A. Shapiro (Cambridge University Press, 2007): 111-140.

"Iliad 22.123-128 and the Erotics of Supplication," Classical Bulletin 81.2 (2005): 145-164.

"A Binding Song: the Similes of Catullus 61," Classical Philology 99.2 (2004): 153-163.