Program Director and Professor Of Classics

I teach Greek and Latin language and literature, especially epic, lyric, and comedy, with occasional escapades into the Ancient Near East and music archaeology.

Much of my research has dealt with early Greek cultural history at the Near Eastern interface(s), focusing especially on the interaction of poetic/musical traditions, always in hopes of elucidating broader issues.  My undergraduate background, in music composition and electronic music (B.M. New England Conservatory, 1988), remains an influence: the history of ancient music technology, both physical and conceptual, is crucial to my research.

In my doctoral thesis (Terpander: The Invention of Music in the Orientalizing Period, University College London, 2002) I argued that vestiges of the Mesopotamian tonal system can be detected in the earliest layers of Greek musical evidence.  Most of my publications have resulted from trying to elucidate the historical and cultural circumstances behind this connection.  Eventually I will bring it all together in a book called The Middle Muse: Mesopotamian Echoes in Early Greek Music, now five years overdue for a contract with OUP.  Why?  The last four years have been consumed by another book that grew out of the first, provisionally called Kinyras: The Divine Lyre.  Here I hope to harmonize the Greco-Roman material for Kinyras, the mythical priest-king of pre-Greek Cyprus, with Near Eastern evidence for the divinization of temple lyres, like the Divine Kinnaru who was worshipped at Ugarit.

I have also "recomposed" music in ancient Greek style for two plays, the Libation Bearers of Aeschylus (1999, London Festival of Greek Drama) and Aristophanes' Clouds (2000, Edinburgh Fringe).  Musical selections from these are included on my CD, The Cyrposyrian Girl: Hits of the Ancient Hellenes, along with other "impressions" of ancient music.  I have also developed a Virtual Lyre for the Reaktor platform, which lets me incorporate microtonal tunings into various studio projects.

I am married to Glynnes Fawkes, an archaeological artist and illustrator.  We have two children, Thomas and Helen.  They all keep me going somehow.


"Diatonic Music in Greece: A Reassessment of its Antiquity," Mnemosyne 56.1 (2002), 669-702.

"Harmony in Greek and Indo-Iranian Cosmology", The Journal of Indo-European Studies 30.1/2 (2002), 1-25.

"The Language of Musical Technique in Greek Epic Diction", Gaia. Revue interdisciplinaire sur la Grèce archaïque 7 (2003), 295-307.

""Once More the Poet': Keats, Severn and the Grecian Lyre", Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 48 (2003), 227-240.Republished in The Keats-Shelley Review 18 (2004).

"Structural Sympathies in Ancient Greek and South Slavic Heroic Singing", in Hickmann, E./Eichmann, R. (eds.), Musikarchäologische Quellengruppen: Bodenurkunden, mündliche Überlieferung, Aufzeichnung. Studien zur Musikarchäologie 4 (Rahden, 2004).

"Hearing Greek Microtones", in Hagel, S./Harrauer, Ch. (eds.), Ancient Greek Music in Performance. Wiener Studien Beiheft 29 (Vienna, 2005),9-50 (with CD selections).

"Lyre Gods of the Bronze Age Musical Koine", The Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 6.2 (2006), 39-70.

"'A Feast of Music': The Greco-Lydian Musical Movement on the Assyrian Periphery", in Collins, B. J./Bachvarova, M./ Rutherford, I. (eds.), Anatolian Interfaces: Hittites, Greeks and Their Neighbors. (Oxford, Oxbow, 2007), 193-203.

"The Global Economy of Music in the Ancient Near East", in Westenholz, J. G. (ed.), Sounds of Ancient Music (Jerusalem, Keter Press, 2007), 27-37.

"'Song-Benders of Circular Choruses': Dithyramb and the 'Demise of Music'", in Wilson, P./ Kowalzig, B. (eds.), Dithyramb in Context (Oxford, OUP, 2013), 213-36.

"Greek Epic and Kypriaka: Why 'Cyprus Matters"" in Y. Maurey/E. Seroussi/J. Goodnick Westenholz, Yuval. Studies of the Jewish Music Research Centre. Vol. 8: Sounds from the Past: Music in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean Worlds (Jerusalem, 2014), 213-47

"Sweet Psalmist of Israel: The Kinnor and Royal Ideology in the United Monarchy", in W. Heimpel (ed.), Strings and threads: a celebration of the work of Anne Draffkorn Kilmer (Winona Lake, Ind., 2011), 99-114

"Remembering Music in Early Greece", in S. Mirelman (ed.), The Historiography of Music in Global Perspective (Piscataway, NJ, Gorgias Press), 9-50.

"Kinyras and the Musical Stratigraphy of Early Cyprus", for proceedings of Musical Traditions in the Middle East: Reminiscences of a Distant Past, (12/09), University of Leiden (12/2009).

"The Lesbian Singers: Towards a Reconstruction of Hellanicus' Karnelian Victors", in D. Castaldo/A. Manieri (eds), Poesia, musica e agoni nella Grecia antica (2012), 720-64.

"Ethnicity and Musical Identity in the Lyric Landscape of Early Cyprus", Greek and Roman Musical Studies 2 (2014), 146-76

"Divinized Instruments and Divine Communication in Mesopotamia", in Jiménez Pasalodos, R. (ed.), Music & Ritual: Bridging Material & Living Cultures (Berlin, 2014), 43-61.

Awards and Recognition

2015: Visiting Professor, Università degli Studi di Perugia

2012: CAORC-CAARI Research Fellowship, Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute

2012: Annual Professor, Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, Jerusalem.

2005-2006: Fellow, Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, D.C.

2002-2003: Multi-Country Fellow, Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC).

2002-2003: Broneer Fellow, American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

2000-2002: Rome Prize Fellow, American Academy in Rome.

1999: Frankfort Fellow, The Warburg Institute, London.

Associations and Affiliations

MOISA: International Society for Study of Ancient Greek and Roman Music and Its Cultural Heritage

Hartkerngruppe, International Study Group for Music Archaeology

Classical Association of New England

Vermont Classical Languages Association

American Philological Association

John Franklin portrait

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Early Greek literature and cultural history, Near Eastern interface, music archeology


  • Ph.D., Classics, University College London
  • M.A., Classics, University of Washington (Seattle)
  • B.M., Composition, New England Conservatory of Music


  • (802) 656-0649
Office Location:

Old Mill, room 229

Office Hours:

By appointment

Courses Taught

CLAS 149 - D2: History of the Ancient Near East

GRK 001/002 - Elementary Greek

GRK 202 - Greek Comedy

GRK 211/212 - Greek Prose Style

GRK 227 - Greek Lyric Poetry

LAT 001/002 - Elementary Latin

LAT 051/052 - Intermediate Latin