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Dr Helen Roche

Dr Helen Roche

Alice Tong Sze Research Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College

Lucy Cavendish College

Research Interests

    • Classical reception in general, and German philhellenism in particular
    • the influence of philhellenism during the Third Reich.
    • historical and historiographical work on elements of Greek history, with particular emphasis on Sparta.
    • historical perspectives on German elite education

Helen’s research interests in Classics focus on the impact of philhellenism on politics and diplomacy during the Third Reich, and the history of German elite education and humanistic pedagogy. From 2011-2013, she chaired the Faculty’s interdisciplinary ‘Classical Reception Discussion Group’ series of seminars and colloquia; she is currently the university's institutional member of the Classical Reception Studies Network (CRSN), and is also a member of the Legacy of Greek Political Thought Network. She is currently writing a history of the Napolas, the Third Reich’s most prominent type of elite school, forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Future projects include a comprehensive survey of Classics and secondary education in Nazi Germany, in collaboration with colleagues at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the Deutsches Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Forschung.


Key Publications


Sparta's German Children. The ideal of ancient Sparta in the Royal Prussian Cadet Corps, 1818-1920, and in National Socialist elite schools (the Napolas), 1933-1945, Swansea 2013.

German Philhellenism - Guest-edited Special Issue of Publications of the English Goethe Society (Vol. 82.3), October 2013.


'"Wanderer, kommst du nach Pforta…": The tension between Classical tradition and the demands of a Nazi elite-school education at Schulpforta and Ilfeld, 1934–1945', European Review of History / revue européenne d'histoire 29 (4), 2013. pp. 581-609.

'"Anti-Enlightenment": National Socialist educators' troubled relationship with humanism and the philhellenist tradition', Publications of the English Goethe Society 82 (3), 2013, pp. 193-207.

'"In Sparta fühlte ich mich wie in einer deutschen Stadt" (Goebbels): The leaders of the Third Reich and the Spartan nationalist paradigm', in English and German Nationalist and Antisemitic Discourse (1871-1945), ed. Felicity Rash, Geraldine Horan, Daniel Wildmann, Oxford 2013, pp. 91-115.

'Spartan Supremacy: A "Possession for Ever"? Early fourth-century expectations of enduring ascendancy', in Hindsight in Greek and Roman History, ed. Anton Powell, Swansea 2013, pp. 91-112.

"Go, tell the Prussians…": The Spartan paradigm in Prussian military thought during the long nineteenth century', New Voices in Classical Reception Studies 7, 2012, pp. 25-39.

'"Spartanische Pimpfe": The importance of Sparta in the educational ideology of the Adolf Hitler Schools', in Sparta in Modern Thought: Politics, History and Culture, ed. Stephen Hodkinson, Ian Macgregor Morris, Swansea 2012, pp. 315-42.


'Wanderer, kommst du nach Sparta oder nach Stalingrad? Ancient ideals of self-sacrifice and German military propaganda', in Making Sacrifices: Visions of Sacrifice in Contemporary Culture, ed. Nicholas Brooks, Gregor Thuswaldner, Vienna 2014.

'Blüte und Zerfall: "Schematic Narrative Templates" of decline and fall in völkisch and National Socialist racial ideology', in The Persistence of Race From the Wilhelmine Empire to National Socialism: Re-Examining Constructions and Perceptions of Cultural Narratives of Race in German History, 1871-1945, ed. Lara Day, Oliver Haag, Oxford 2014.

'Classics and Education in the Third Reich: Die Alten Sprachen and the Nazification of Latin- and Greek-teaching in secondary schools', in Fascist Ideology and Classical Culture: A Companion, part of a series entitled Brill’s Companions to Classical Reception, ed. Luca Asmonti, Kyriakos Demetriou, Leiden 2015.

'Xenophon and the Nazis: A case study in the politicisation of ancient Greek thought through educational propaganda', forthcoming in Classical Receptions Journal (special issue on the Legacy of Greek Political Thought), ed. Barbara Goff, Miriam Leonard, 2015.

'"Spartanische Pädagogik deutscher Art": Der Einfluss Spartas auf den Königlich Preußischen Kadettenanstalten', in Das Antike Sparta, part of a series entitled Syssitia. Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur Spartas und zur Sparta-Rezeption, ed. Ernst Baltrusch, Andreas Luther, Düsseldorf.

'Alexander, the Great Dictator? Perspectives from the Third Reich', forthcoming in Brill's Companion to the Reception of Alexander the Great, ed. Kenneth Moore, Leiden.



Upcoming events

Ancient Philosophy Seminar

Apr 27, 2017


Ancient Philosophy Seminar

May 04, 2017


The B Club

May 08, 2017


The B Club

May 15, 2017


Upcoming events

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Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships

Apr 21, 2017

Information on the next round of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships is now available online.

Craven Seminar, 1-3 June 2017

Apr 04, 2017

A provisional programme for this seminar on ‘Eschatology and Apocalypse in Graeco-Roman literature’ in now online.

Greek Play 2016 Videos now on line

Feb 07, 2017

Highlights and a full length video of the Cambridge Greek Play 2016, a double bill of Antigone and Lysistrata, are now available to view on line.

Understanding Relations Between Scripts II: Early Alphabets

Jan 05, 2017

21-22 March 2017. This conference, the second in the Understanding Relations Between Scripts series, focuses on the development of alphabetic writing systems in the later second and earlier first millennia BC.

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