School of Religion, Philosophy & Classics

John Hilton

John Hilton


Discipline Classics (Durban)


Contact Number 031-260-1308

Campus Howard College Campus

Office Address Memorial Tower Building G019

Degrees Held

Institution and Location Degree Year(s) Field of Study
University of Cape Town BA 1973 Classics
University of Cape Town STD 1974 Education
University of South Africa BA Hons 1978 Classics
University of Reading, U.K. MA 1979 Theoretical Linguistics
University of Natal, Durban PhD 1998 Classics

Research Interests

  • 1. The ancient novels and their religious context, especially Heliodorus
  • 2. The history of the struggle between Christianity and paganism in the fourth century
  • 3. The reception of Classics in South Africa
  • 4. Digital analysis of texts, especially Homer

Teaching Interests

  • 1. Ancient Ethiopia and the trade between the Roman Empire and India
  • 2. The ancient novels and their reception
  • 3. Plato’s Atlantis myth and its Minoan/Mycenean archaeological context
  • 4. Alexander III of Macedon in history and his reception in media / film
  • 5. The reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus in history and media / film
  • 6. Hypatia of Alexandria in history and media / film
  • 7. The myths and rituals associated with Dionysus
  • 8. Legends of the Roman kings and the foundation of Rome
  • 9. Race relations in Ptolemaic Egypt, especially Alexandria
  • 10.  Greek and Latin texts: Homer, Heliodorus, Achilles Tatius, Chariton, Herodotus, Cicero, Apuleius, Tacitus etc.



  • Harrison, S., Hilton, J., and Hunink, V. 2001. Apuleius: Rhetorical Works. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hilton, J. L., and Gosling, A. eds. 2007. Alma Parens Originalis? The Reception of Classical Ideas in Africa, Europe, Cuba, and the United States. Bern: Peter Lang.

Journal Articles

  • Hilton, J. L. 2017. “Myth and Narrative Fiction in the Works of the Emperor Julian.”  Listy filologicke 140.1. Accepted / Forthcoming.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2017. “Nomos, Physis and Ethnicity in the Emperor Julian’s Interpretation of the Tower of Babel Story.” Classical World. Accepted / Forthcoming.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2016. “Emeralds and Embassies in the Ethiopian Story of Heliodorus.”  Akroterion 61: 25-42. (as yet not posted online)
  • Hilton, J. L. 2015. “Erotic Date Palms in Ammianus Marcellinus 24.3.”  Listy filologické 138.3-4: 213-229.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2015. “Gandhi, Carpenter, Schreiner and the Crisis of Modern Civilisation at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.” African Studies 74.2: 157-174.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2014. “A New Sixth-Century Reader of Heliodorus’ Aethiopica?”  Acta Classica 57: 241-245. DOI 10.15731/AClass.057.13
  • Hilton, J. L. 2014. “Theodor Mommsen, British Imperialism and the Second South African War of Independence (1899-1902).”  Classics Receptions Journal 6.1: 48-73.
  • DOI:
  • Hilton, J. 2013. “The Hunt for Acrostics by Some Ancient Readers of Homer.”  Hermes 1: 88-95.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2012. “The Cult of Neoptolemos at Delphi in Heliodoros’ Aithiopika.”  Acta Classica 55: 57-68.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2012. “The Sphragis of Heliodorus, Genealogy in the Aithiopika, and Julian’s Hymn to King Helios.” Ágora: Estudos Classicos em Debate 14: 1-24.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2012. “The Theme of Shipwreck on (in)Hospitable Shores in Ancient Prose Narratives.”  Trends in Classics 4: 274-295.,

Chapters in Books

  • Hilton, J. L. 2017. “Public and Private Prayer in the Works of the Emperor Julian.” In E. Pachoumi ed. Praying and Contemplating: Religious and Philosophical Interactions in Late Antiquity. Accepted / Forthcoming.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2017. “Speaking Truth to Power: Cynics, Ethiopian Philosophers and Roman Emperors.” In P. R. Bosman ed. Intellectuals and Power. Pretoria: Acta Classica. Accepted / Forthcoming.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2017. “Cecil Rhodes, the Classics and Imperialism.” In G. Parker ed. South Africa, Greece and Rome: Classical Confrontations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 74-100.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2017. “The Cost of Leadership: The Relationship between Crowds and Power in the Misopogon of the Emperor Julian and the Aethiopica of Heliodorus.” In R. J. Evans ed. Mass & Elite in the Greek and Roman Worlds: From Sparta to Late Antiquity. London: Routledge. 137-148.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2017. “Egyptian Necromancy in Heliodorus’ Aethiopica (6.12-15) and the Witch of Endor Narrative (1 Sam 28).” In R. J. Evans ed. Prophets and Profits. London: Routledge. Accepted / Forthcoming.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2013. “A Democratic Turn in the Reception of the Roman-Dutch Law of Treason in South Africa?” In L. Hardwick and S. Harrison eds., Classics in the Modern World: A ‘Democratic Turn’? Classical Presences Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 47-62.
  • Hilton, J. L. 2011. “The Influence of Classical Ideas on the Anti-Slavery Debate at the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa (1795-1834).” In R. Alston, E. Hall and J. McConnell eds., Ancient Slavery and Abolition: From Hobbes to Hollywood. Classical Presences. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 103-124.

Community Involvement

Teaching Expertise

  • As for Teaching Interests

Student Supervision

Postdoctoral supervision

  • Dr. Alan Ross.
  • Alan’s book recently appeared from OUP.
  • Ross, A. J. 2015. Ammianus’ Julian: Narrative and Genre in the Res Gestae. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

PhD (current)

  • Du Plessis, J. 2015. “The Armies of Antiochus III from the Median Revolt to the Battle of Magnesia (221-188 BC) ” (PhD, UKZN). Co-supervised with Dr. P. De Souza, University College, Dublin
  • Flint, A. 2015. “The Portrayal of Christian Heroism in the Psychomachia of Prudentius: An Investigation into This Poem and Its Fifth-Century Social and Religious Context.” (PhD, UKZN). Co-supervised with Prof. P. Denis, Theology UKZN
  • Gammage, S. 2015. “Atticism in Achilles Tatius: An Analysis of Linguistic Purism in Leucippe and Clitophon.” (PhD, UKZN). Sole supervision.

M.A. (recently graduated)

  • Parker, L. 2016. “The Spartans and the Amazulu: A Comparison of Their Military and Social Systems.” (MA, UKZN). Sole supervision
  • Van der Heijden, G. 2016. “A Study of the Reception of the Life and Death of the Neo-Platonic Philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria in Amenábar’s Film Agora (2009).” (MA, UKZN). Sole supervision
  • Banwari, S. 2015. “The Theory of Reincarnation and the Journey of the Soul: A Comparison between Ancient Greek and Indian Belief.” (MA, UKZN). Sole supervision.
  • Bilro, C. 2015. A Comparative Study of Greek and San Mythology. (MA UKZN). Sole supervision.