Contact Information

Office: Boylston Hall 231


Office Hours: Fall 2024 Office Hours TBA, in Widener 475, or by appointment



Panagiotis Roilos

George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies and of Comparative Literature

Faculty Associate, The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

Faculty Associate, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies

Research Fields: Greek literature (from antiquity to the present), European aestheticism (with a focus on Greek and British literature), the Enlightenment, German Romanticism and the Classics, premodern and modern critical theory, historical and cognitive anthropology, philosophy and rhetoric, comparative oral poetics, diaspora, and cultural politics.

Research Interests: postclassical Greek literature and culture, comparative poetics, reception studies, cultural politics, cognitive and historical anthropology, critical theory.

Panagiotis Roilos was born and raised in Greece. He studied at the University of Athens (B.A./Ptychion in Classics, Byzantine, and Modern Greek Literature, 1991) and Harvard University (Ph.D., 1999).

Professor Roilos’ publications and research interests center upon comparative poetics, postclassical Greek literature, historical and cognitive anthropology of premodern Greek culture, reception studies, medieval and modern literary theory, ritual theory, orality and literacy, European aestheticism (with a focus on Greek and British literature), German Romanticism and the classics, and the Enlightenment. He is the author of the books C. P. Cavafy: The Economics of Metonymy (2009), Amphoteroglossia: A Poetics of the Twelfth-Century Medieval Greek Novel (2005), and Towards a Ritual Poetics (2003; co-author with D. Yatromanolakis; Greek edition of the book, trans. Manos Skouras and with a preface by Marcel Detienne entitled “For an Anthropological Approach,” 2005; Italian edition, trans. Chiara Rizzelli Martella, 2014: link). His major publications also include the books Greek Ritual Poetics (co-editor; 2005),  Imagination and Logos: Essays on C.P. Cavafy (editor; 2010), and Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium (editor; 2014: link). In collaboration with Dimitrios Yatromanolakis he has produced the expanded and revised English (2002) and the revised Greek edition (2002) of Margaret Alexiou’s The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition (1974). He has conducted extensive fieldwork on oral traditional literature in South Italy as well as in Crete and the Peloponnese.

His numerous articles include: “Orality and Performativity in Erotokritos,” Cretan Studies 7 (2002), 213-230; “The Politics of Writing: Greek Historiographic Metafiction,” Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 21/2 (2004):1-23; “The Novels of Nikos Kazantzakis: Heteroglossic Narratives and Ideological Misinterpretations” (in Greek), in Nikos Kazantzakis: His Work and Its Reception, Herakleion, 2006, 271-293; “Ekphrasis and Ritual Poetics: From the Ancient Greek Novel to the Late Medieval Greek Romance,” in A. Bierl et al. (eds.), Literatur und Religion: Mythisch-Rituelle Strukturen im Text, Munich, 2008, 335-358; “Orality, Ritual, and the Dialectics of Performance,” in K. Reichl (ed.), Medieval Oral Literature, Berlin, 2011, 225-249; “Ancient Greek Rhetorical Theory and Byzantine Discursive Politics: Conceptual Homologies and Politikos Logos in John Sikeliotes’ Commentary on Hermogenes,” forthcoming in Ida Toth et. al. (eds.), Reading Byzantium, Cambridge, 2014; “‘Unshapely Bodies and Beautifying Embellishments’: The Ancient Epics in Byzantium, Allegorical Hermeneutics, and the Case of Ioannes Diakonos Galenos,” Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 64 (2014); “Phantasia and the Ethics of Fictionality in Byzantium: A Cognitive Anthropological Perspective,” in P. Roilos (ed.), Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium, Wiesbaden, 2014, 9-30; “The Seduction of the ‘Real’: Personification and Mimesis in C.P. Cavafy,” in P. Roilos (ed.), Imagination and Logos: Essays on C.P. Cavafy, Cambridge, Mass., 2010, 219-244.

His current book-length projects include Abducting Athena: The Nazis and the Greeks and Byzantine Imaginaries: A Cognitive Anthropology of Medieval Greek Phantasia. An ongoing project of his is the critical edition and English translation of the commentary on Hermogenes’ Peri Ideôn by the early 11th c. Byzantine rhetorician Ioannes Sikeliotes.

Professor Roilos has co-founded and co-edits Cultural Politics, Socioaesthetics, Beginnings and Harvard Early Modern and Modern Greek Library. He has been a Fellow in Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks (spring 2009) and has been awarded a Forschungsstipendium für erfahrene Wissenschaftler from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2010).

He is the chair of the Mahindra Humanities Center Seminar on Modern Greek Literature and Culture. He has organized numerous lectures on modern Greek literature and society by scholars and intellectuals from a variety of fields, including Helen Vendler and Seamus Heaney. He is a Faculty Associate of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies and of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA). He is the co-founder and co-chair of the Research Seminar “Cultural Politics: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” at WCFIA. Professor Roilos is also a member of the Steering Committee on Folklore and Mythology, of the Standing Committee on Medieval Studies, and of the Committee on Freshman Seminars.

C. P. Cavafy – The Economics of Metonymy

Panagiotis Roilos

March 2010