Department of Ancient History

Dr J. Lea Beness

ancient-staff leabenessDepartmental Convenor

BA Hons 1 and PhD University of New England

Office: Australian Hearing Hub, South Wing, Level 2 W91
Telephone: +61 2 9850 9375
Fax: +61 2 9850 8240


Educated at the University of New England, Dr Lea Beness is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Ancient History and a member of the Ancient Cultures Research Centre. She is currently the editor of Macquarie 's journal Ancient History: Resources for Teachers. Her research interests focus primarily on the politics of the Late Roman Republic. She is chief investigator of the Macquarie Dictionary of Roman Biography with her partner Associate Professor Tom Hillard.

External Appointments

  • Visiting Research Fellow, Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont (2005)
  • Research Associate at the Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia (CCANESA), University of Sydney (2012-2015)


  • Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching (2006)
  • Macquarie Gale Travelling Fellowship in Graeco-Roman Ancient History (2006)
  • Faculty of Arts Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2010)


  • Has participated in the underwater excavations at Caesarea Maritima in Israel and at Torone in the Chalkidiki, northern Greece.

Selected Public Lectures and Seminar/Conference Papers

  • 'Insulting Cornelia' (University of Sydney, Classics and Ancient History Seminar) (2001)
  • 'Apollo weeps-the crisis of 129 BC. Insights from the Roman Biographical Dictionary Project' (Lecture, Classical Association of New South Wales, The Annual General Meeting) (2004)
  • 'Early Roman Interests in Egypt: the second century BCE' (conference paper for 'Images of Egypt: Cultural Interaction and Identity in Ancient Egypt from the Pharoahs to the Arab Conquest', Macquarie University) (2004)
  • 'Inference and Resonance: Modern Women on the Ancient World' (Seminar paper, University of New South Wales History Seminar) (2004)
  • 'Finding the Ancient Harbour at Torone.  History, Archaeology, and Geology in Northern Greece' (Lecture, Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont) (2005)
  • The Gracchi and the Italian Landscape' (Lecture for the Friends of the ANU Classics Museum, Canberra) (2007)
  • 'Underwater Archaeology: The UNE Connection' (Lecture to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Museum of Antiquities at the University of New England and the opening of the exhibition entitled 'Underwater Archaeology: Seas, lakes and rivers of Italy' jointly hosted by the Museum of Antiquities [UNE], the Istituto Italiano di Cultura [Sydney], the Dixson Library [UNE] and the School of Humanities [UNE]) (2009)
  • 'Insulting Cornelia' (Conference paper for 'Culture, Identity and Politics in the Ancient Mediterranean World', an international celebration of the work of Professor Erich Gruen at the Australian National University, Canberra) (2011)
  • '"Deficient in logic, but with the gift of inference": Pioneering Women of Ancient World Studies' (the Inaugural Beryl Rawson Memorial Lecture at the Australian National University, Canberra ) (2011)
  • Speaker for the Negative in Macquarie University Vice-Chancellor's Annual Debate (Was Brutus Right?) (2011)
  • "Wronging Sempronia. A Study in Late Roman Republican Slander" (Australasian Society for Classical Studies Conference 34, Sydney) (2013)

Selected Publications


  • The Tribunate from Saturninus to Sulla: 103-88 B.C. (Turnhout, Belgium, Brepols Publishers) Studia Antiqua Australiensiaseries (forthcoming)

Book Chapters

  • Postclassical Effects on Classical Shoreline Sites: 'The "Harbor" at Torone?', in S. Swiny, R.L. Hohlfelder and H.W. Swiny (eds), Res Maritimae. Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean from Prehistory to Late Antiquity. Proceedings of the Second International Symposium "Cities on the Sea" Nicosia, Cyprus, October 18-22, 1994 American Schools of Oriental Research. Archaeological Reports 4 (ed. L.G. Herr) Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute Monograph Series 1 (Atlanta, Georgia, Scholars Press, 1997), 142-151 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Choosing friends, foes and fiefdoms in the second century BC', in D. Hoyos (ed.), A Companion to Roman Imperialism (Leiden and Boston, Brill, 2013) 127-140 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Where to put the Twins? Torone's Dioskoureion', in Elizabeth Minchin and Heather Jackson (eds), Text and the Material World: Essays in Honour of Graeme Clarke, Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology PB 185 (Uppsala, Astrom Editions Ltd, 2017) 41-54 (chapter 4) (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Rei militaris virtus ... orbem terrarum parere huic imperio coëgit: the transformation of Roman imperium, 146-50 BC', in D. Hoyos (ed.), A Companion to Roman Imperialism (Leiden and Boston, Brill, 2013) 141-153 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • '133 BC', in V. Arena and J.W. Prag (eds), A Companion to the Political Culture of the Roman Republic  (Wiley-Blackwell: Chichester, West Sussex, UK; Malden, MA, 2016) (with T.W. Hillard) (forthcoming)


  • Tribunician Agitation and Aristocratic Reaction, 80-71 BC', Athenaeum. Studi di Letteratura e Storia dell'Antichità 65 (1987), 361-378 (with B. Marshall)
  • 'The Tongues of the Common Mouth? Tribunician Activity from Saturninus to Sulla (103-88 B.C.)', Classicum 16 (1990), 18-22
  • 'The Death of Lucius Equitius on December 10th, 100 BC', Classical Quarterly ns 40 (1990), 269-272 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'The Urban Unpopularity of Lucius Appuleius Saturninus', Antichthon 25 (1991), 1-30
  • 'Sulpicius (tr. pl. 88 B.C.) and the Pompeii ', Electronic Antiquity 1.3 (1993) (6 pages)
  • 'The Underwater Survey of Torone: A Preliminary Report of the 1993 Season', Mediterranean Archaeology 8 (1995), 89-100; Plate 9 (with C. Samiou et al. )
  • 'When the Punishment Rivals the Crime: The Sack Treatment and the Execution of C. Villius', Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 28.2 (1998), 95-112
  • 'The Punishment of the Gracchani and the Execution of C. Villius in 133/132', Antichthon 34 (2000), 1-17
  • 'Romans in Upper Egypt in 116 B.C.', The Bulletin of the Australian Centre for Egyptology 12 (2001), 25-33 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'The Theatricality of the Deaths of C. Gracchus and friends', Classical Quarterly 51.1 (2001), 135-140 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'The First Romans at Philae (CIL 1 2 .2.2937a)', ZPE 144 (2003), 203-207 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Ancient History, archaeology and classical studies', in M. Spongberg, B. Caine and A. Curthoys (eds), Companion to Women's Historical Writing (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 5-15 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Scipio Aemilianus and the Crisis of 129 B.C.', Historia: Zeitschrift für alte Geschichte 54.1 (2005), 37-48
  • 'Carbo's Tribunate of 129 and the Associated Dicta Scipionis ', Phoenix 63 (2009), 60-72
  • 'The Harbour of Torone and its Disappearance', Australian Archaeological Fieldwork Abroad I (a special issue of AH:RfT37.1 2007 [2009]), 84-93 (with R. Dunn and T.W. Hillard)
  • 'The Coastal Topography of Ancient Torone', Mediterranean Archaeology 22/23 (2009/10), 69-84 (with R. Dunn, A. Sprent and T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Torone, Trade and the Sea: Towards a History of the Harbour', Mediterranean Archaeology 22/23 (2009/10), 85-97 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Another Voice against the 'Tyranny' of Scipio Aemilianus in 129 B.C.?', Historia: Zeitschrift für alte Geschichte 61.3 (2012), 270-281 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Late antique memories of Republican political polemic: Pseudoacron ad Hor. serm. 2.167 and a dictum Macedonici', Classical Quarterly 62.2 (2012), 816-826 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Insulting Cornelia', Antichthon. Special Issue: Culture, Identity and Politics in the Ancient Mediterranean World. Papers from a Conference in Honour of Erich Gruen 47 (2013), 61-79 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'The Ancestry of Nerva', Classical Quarterly 65.2 (2015), 756-765 (with T.W. Hillard)
  •  'Wronging Sempronia', Antichthon 50 (2016) [2017] 80-106 (with T.W. Hillard)


  • 'Rape in the Greek and Roman World: A Review Article', Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 29.2 (1999), 159-183 (with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Review of S. Dixon, Reading Roman Women. Sources, Genres and Real Life', Classicum 28.1 (2002), 30-31

 Biographical entries

  • Seven entries for From Polis to Empire -The Ancient World, c. 800 B.C. - A.D. 500. A Biographical Dictionary ed. A.G. Traver, Interdisciplinary Biographical Dictionaries. Vol. I. (Westport/London, Greenwood Press, 2002): 'Gracchus, Tiberius Sempronius (163/162-133 B.C.)', 172-174; 'Gracchus, Gaius Sempronius (154/153-121 B.C.)', 174-176; 'Saturninus, Lucius Appuleius (c. 132-100 B.C.)', 342-343; 'Glaucia, Gaius Servilius (c. late 2nd century B.C.)', 171-172; 'Marius, Gaius (c. 157-86 B.C.)', 244-245; 'Drusus, Marcus Livius (c. 123-91 B.C.)', 142-143; and 'Sulpicius Rufus, Publius (124/123-88 B.C.)', 368-369
  • Two entries for Companion to Women's Historical Writing eds M. Spongberg, B. Caine and A. Curthoys (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005): 'Harrison, Jane Ellen 1850-1928', 235-237; 'Taylor, Lily Ross 1886-1969', 549-550 (both with T.W. Hillard)
  • 'Atia', in R.S. Bagnall et al. (eds), Encyclopedia of Ancient History (Oxford, Blackwell, 2013) 922-923

Scholarly annotations

  • Nine entries for the Chawton House Library Edition of Mary Hays's Female Biography (1803) to be published by Pickering & Chatto (2013, 2014): 'Agrippina the Elder', 'Arria', 'Calpurnia, wife of Pliny the Younger', 'Cleopatra' 'Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi', 'Fannia (daughter of Thrasea Paetus)', 'Hortensia', 'Octavia (wife of Nero)'and 'Valeria' (all with T.W. Hillard)

Editorial work

  • Cities of Vesuvius: Pompeii and Herculaneum A Special Issue of Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 35.1 (2005) [2006] (110 pages)
  • Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 35.2 (2005) [2007] (96 pages)
  • Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 36.1 (2006) [2008] (96 pages)
  • Australian Archaeological Fieldwork Abroad I A Special Issue of Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 37.1 2007 [2009] (123 pages) (with T.W. Hillard)
  • Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 37.2 (2007) [2010] (85 pages)
  • Studies in Honour of Margaret Parker. Part 1 A Special Issue of Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 38.1 2008 [2011] (106 pages)
  • Studies in Honour of Margaret Parker. Part 2 A Special Issue of Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 38.2 2008 [2011] (105 pages)
  • Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 39.1 (2009) [2012] (146 pages)
  • Archaeological Fieldwork Abroad II (a special issue of Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 39.2 (2009) [2012] (135 pages) (ISSN: 1032-3686) (with T.W. Hillard)
  • Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 40.1 (2010) [2013] (118 pages) (ISSN: 1032-3686)
  • Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 40.2 (2010) [2013] (95 pages) (ISSN: 1032-3686)
  • Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 41-44 (2011-2014) [2015] [159 pages] (ISSN: 1032-3686)

Archaeological reports

  • J.L. Beness 'Torone: the 2015 Season', Mediterranean Archaeology 27 (2014) [2016] 123-131, plates 34-40 (with T. Hillard, R. Jones, G. Tsokas and P. Tsourlos)


ancient-staff beness details

Pylos and Sphakteria (1990) during a survey of ancient harbours









back to top