Ivana Petrovic

Hugh H. Obear Professor of Classics and Department Chair


Hugh H. Obear Professor of Classics. She is the author of a study of the cult of Artemis in Theocritus and Callimachus, Von den Toren des Hades zu den Hallen des Olymp (Brill, 2007) and co-editor of Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram (Cambridge, 2010), Triplici invectus triumpho - der römische Triumph in augusteischer Zeit (Franz Steiner, 2008), The Materiality of Texts (Brill, 2018) and Ancient Greek Literary Epigram (Oxford, 2019). Ivana is also the editor of journal “Greece and Rome”.

Her current research project with Andrej Petrovic is a large-scale diachronic study of belief in Greek religion, the first volume of which has appeared as Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek ReligionVol. I: Early Greek Religion (Oxford, 2016). The second volume looks into the concepts of inner purity and pollution in later Greek religion (up to Iamblichus). 

Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek Religion

Research Interests

My work focuses primarily on the interaction between the texts and their historical, religious and social contexts. 

In my publications on Hellenistic poetry, I challenge the view that Alexandrian poetry was aimed primarily at literary cognoscenti and scholars. I demonstrate instead that it addressed a much broader audience, and that it considered issues of wide societal relevance such as religion, ethnicity, power, and the ideology of empire. The intersections between literary production and the historical, material, and cultural contexts provide a unifying theme for the volumes I have co-edited for CUP, Franz Steiner Verlag, OUP, and Brill.

My current research project is a large-scale diachronic study of belief in Greek religion. Together with Andrej Petrovic, I have published a monograph on the Ancient Greek notions of inner purity and pollution (Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek ReligionVol. I: Early Greek Religion, Oxford University Press.) The second volume of the study is also a co-authored investigation which looks into the concepts of inner purity and pollution in later Greek religion (up to Iamblichus). It also engages with questions of religious interactions between various religious traditions of the ancient Mediterranean. While current scholarship by and large still tends to perceive Greek religion as quintessentially ritualistic in nature – that is, primarily focused on the practice and observance of customs – we argue that there was also an important place for belief in Greek rituals. We examine the Greek notion of inner purity as a manifestation of such belief and highlight the significance of intrinsic, faith-based elements in Greek religious practices, while providing the first comprehensive history of the concepts of inner purity and pollution in Greek religion.

Selected publications


  • Von den Toren des Hades zu den Hallen des Olymp. Artemiskult bei Theokrit und Kallimachos, Mnemosyne Supplement 281 (Brill Academic Publishers), Leiden, Boston 2007.
  • Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek Religion. Volume 1: Early Greek religion, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2016
  • Triplici invectus triumphoder römische Triumph in augusteischer Zeit, ed. with H. Krasser and D. Pausch, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2008.     
  • Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram, ed. with M. Baumbach and A. Petrovic, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York, 2010.
  • The Materiality of Texts: Placements, Presences and Perceptions of Inscribed Texts in Classical         Antiquity, co-edited with E. Thomas and A. Petrovic. Peer-reviewed, and under contract with Studies in Greek and Roman Epigraphy Series, Brill Academic publishers, 2016.


  •  "Gods or men - deification", in: Oxford Handbook of Greek Religion, eds. J. Kindt, E. Eidinow, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2015, 429-443.
  • "Hymns in the Papyri Graecae Magicae", in: Hymnic Narrative and the Narratology in Greek Hymns, eds. A. Faulkner, O. Hodkinson, Brill, Leiden / Boston 2015, 244-267.
  • "On ritual pollution by seeing: I.Lindos II.487 1-3 and Hdt. 2. 37. 5", with A. Petrovic, Gephyra 11, 2014, 29-35.
  • "Authority and generic heterogeneity of Greek sacred regulations", with A Petrovic, in: Öffentlichkeit – Monument – Text, XIV Congressus Internationalis Epigraphiae Graecae et Latinae 27.-31. Augusti MMXII, Akten, eds. W. Eck, P. Funke et al., Walter De Gruyter 2014, Berlin / Boston 2014, 626-628.
  • "Posidippus’ Lithika and Achaemenid royal propaganda", in: Hellenistic Studies at a Crossroads, Exploring Texts, Contexts and Metatexts, eds. R. Hunter, F. Montanari, A. Rengakos, E. Sistakou, Trends in Classics, Supplementary Volume 25, Walter De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2014, 273-300.
  • "The Never-Ending Stories: A Perspective on Greek Hymns", in: The Door Ajar. False Closure in Greek and Roman Literature and Art, eds. B. Acosta-Hughes, F. Grewing, A. Kirichenko, Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg 2013, 203-227.
  • "Methodische und theoretische Überlegungen über die Bilder und Texte in ihrer Funktion als historische Primärquellen", with S. Muth, in: Ansehenssache. Formen von Prestige in Kulturen des Altertums, eds. B. Christiansten, U. Thaler, Münchner Studien zur Alten Welt, Herberg Utz Verlag, München 2013, 281-318.
  • "Rhapsodic Hymns and Epyllia", in: Brill’s Companion to Greek and Latin Epyllion and its reception, eds. S. Bär, M. Baumbach, Brill Academic Publisher, Leiden / Boston 2012, 149-176.
  • "Callimachus' Hymn to Apollo and Greek Metrical Sacred Regulations", in: Gods and Religion, Proceedings of the Ninth Groningen Workshop on Hellenistic poetry, eds. M.A. Harder, R.F. Regtuit, G.C. Wakker, Peeters Publishers, Leuven, Paris 2012, 281-306.
  • "Dichtung, Reinheit, Opferritual", in: Ästhetik des Opfers. Zeichen / Handlungen in Ritual und Spiel, eds. A. Bierl, A. Honold, V. Luppi, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2012, 107-130.
  • "Divine Teachers and Human Disciples", in: Meister und Schüler in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. B-A. Renger, Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht University Press, Göttingen 2012, 53-68.
  • "Callimachus and Contemporary Religion", in: Brill’s Companion to Callimachus, eds. B. Acosta-Hughes, L. Lehnus, S. Stephens, Brill Academic Publisher, Leiden / Boston 2011, 264-284.
  • "Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram: An Introduction"(with M. Baumbach and A. Petrovic), in: Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram, eds. M. Baumbach, A. Petrovic, I. Petrovic, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2010, 1-19.
  • "Transforming Artemis: From the Goddess of the Outdoors to the City Goddess", in: Gods of Ancient Greece: Identities and Transformations, eds. J. N. Bremmer, A. Erskine,  Edinburgh 2010, 209-227.
  • "The life story of a cult statue as an allegory: Kallimachos’ Hermes Perpheraios", in: Divine Images and Human Imaginations in Ancient Greece and Rome, ed. J. Mylonopoulos,  Brill Academic Publisher, Leiden / Boston 2010, 205-224.
  • "Aitiologie des Triumphes : Die Hymnen von Kallimachos und Properz 4.6", in: Triplici invectus triumphoDer römische Triumph in augusteischer Zeit, eds. H. Krasser, D. Pausch, I. Petrovic, Stuttgart 2008, 191-208.
  • "Plutarch’s and Stone’s Alexander", in: Hellas on Screen. Cinematic Receptions of Ancient History, Literature and Myth, eds. I. Berti, M. García Morcillo, Stuttgart 2008, 163-184.
  • "Delusions of Grandeur: Homer, Zeus and the Telchines in Callimachus’ Reply (Aitia Fr. 1) and Iambus 6", Antike und Abendland 52, 2006, 16-41.
  • "Look who’s Talking Now: Speaker and Communication in Metrical Sacred Regulations", with A. Petrovic, in: Ritual and Communication (Kernos Suppl. 16, 2006), Centre International d`Étude de la Religion Grecque Antique, ed.  E. Stavrianopoulou, Liège, 2006, 111-139.
  • "Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City – das Bild der Frau im Hellenismus", Giessener Hochschulblätter 39, 2006, 25-36.
  • "Pharmakeutria ohne pharmakon. Überlegungen zur Komposition des zweiten Idylls von Theokrit", Mnemosyne 57.4, 2004, 421-444.
  • "Artemisfeste und Frauen, Göttliche Didaktik als literarischer Topos", in: Studia humanitatis ac litterarum trifolio Heidelbergiensi dedicata, Festschrift für C. Christmann, W. Edelmaier, R. Kettemann eds. A. Hornung, Ch. Jäkel, W. Schubert, Heidelberg 2004, 251-270.
  • "Stop and Smell the Statues. Callimachus’ Ep. 51. Pf. Reconsidered (Four Times)", with A. Petrovic, Materiali e Discussioni 51, 2003, 179-208.
  • "Die Bedeutung des Verses 523 in der Antigone des Sophokles: Ein neuer Deutungsversuch," Acta Antiqua 41, 2001, 359-62.


I was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia, where I have obtained a Diploma in Classics. For my PhD, I went to Germany, first to Heidelberg, and then to Giessen University, where I received my PhD in 2004. I taught at Giessen University for three years, and at Durham University for ten years, before coming to UVA in 2016.