Dr Elizabeth Pender

Senior Lecturer

+44 (0)113 34 33538

Summary: Greek philosophy, particularly the literary aspects of philosophical writing; Plato esp. responses to Greek traditions of philosophy, rhetoric and poetry.

BA (Leeds)
PhD (Durham)

Research Interests

A specialist in Greek philosophy, particularly the literary aspects of philosophical writing, Liz wrote her first book on the cognitive role of Plato’s metaphors, Images of Persons Unseen: Plato’s Metaphors for the Gods and the Soul (International Plato Studies, Volume 11, Sankt Augustin 2000). Since then her writings have considered Plato’s engagement with earlier Greek traditions of philosophy and poetry, showing the philosopher’s conflicted but creative relationship with established thought. For Project Theophrastus, based at Rutgers University in the USA , she co-edited Heraclides of Pontus (New Brunswick 2009) which explored the wide-ranging interests of Plato’s distinguished pupil. The volume arose from a conference supported by a British Academy Major Award, bringing a team of international Heraclides specialists to Leeds .

She is currently writing a commentary on Plato’s dramatic narrative of the trial and death of Socrates (Bloomsbury Press) and in 2011 began a major study of the narrative, visual and poetic techniques used in the dialogues, with a conference planned on ‘Plato in Sound and Vision’. She is also supervising PhD research projects on Greek conceptions of erotic experience, understandings of self and death, metaphors of cultural identity, and Plato’s epistemology.


I studied for my BA in Classics at the University of Leeds (1981-5) and completed my PhD on Plato at the University of Durham (1985-92), where I also held my first lectureship.

I was awarded a British Academy Post-doctoral Research Fellowship at King's College London (1992-5) and was a temporary lecturer at Royal Holloway (1995-6).

In 1996 I was appointed to my post in ancient philosophy here at Leeds and was very pleased to move back to the place where I spent happy years as a student and first learned ancient Greek.


  • (forthcoming) Plato's Method of Composition: A Literary and Philosophical Commentary on Four Dialogues (Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo), Bristol/London
  • 2007; co-edited with W.W. Fortenbaugh and E. Schütrumpf) Heraclides of Pontus: Texts, Translation, and Discussion, Rutgers University Series in Classical Humanities Vol. 15, New Brunswick
  • (2007) "Sappho and Anacreon in Plato's Phaedrus", Leeds International Classical Studies 6.4, 1-56
  • (2007) "Poetic Allusion in Plato's Timaeus and Phaedrus", Göttinger Forum für Altertumswissenschaft 10 51-87
  • (2005) "Plain speaking? Socrates Polutropos", Skepsis 16, 246-61
  • (2003) "Plato on metaphors and models", in G.R. Boys-Stones (ed.), Metaphor, Allegory and the Classical Tradition, Oxford, 55-81
  • (2000) Images of Persons Unseen: Plato's Metaphors for the Gods and the Soul,  Sankt Augustin
  • (1999) "Plato's moving logos" PCPS 45, 75-107
  • (1997) "The language of soul in Plato's Timaeus", in T. Calvo and L. Brisson (edd.), Interpreting the Timaeus-Critias, Sankt Augustin, 281-8
  • (1992) "Spiritual pregnancy in Plato's Symposium" CQ 42.1, 72-86