Oliver Nicholson

Oliver Nicholson is a very early mediaevalist. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies and teaches courses on post-classical Latin authors as well as a sequence of undergraduate courses on the Age of Constantine the Great, of Saint Augustine of Hippo and of Justinian and Muhammad, for which he has won a couple of teaching awards. Oxford Univeristy Press has invited him to be the General Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity, a reference book of a million words modelled on the 3rd edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary, but covering the half-millennium c. 250-c. 750 A.D.. He also has on the stocks a book on Roman persecution of the Early Christians, a monograph on Lactantius, the ‘Christian Cicero’ and an annotated translation of the Roman travel-writer Dionysius of Byzantium. For five happy years from 1995-2000 he was the Director of the Center for Mediaeval Studies and enjoyed sustained and witty teasing from the graduate student staff for his way of spelling ‘mediaeval’.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • M.A.: Oxford University, 1976.
  • D.Phil. Sub-Faculty of Ancient History: Oxfor University, 1982.


  • early Christianity
  • late antiquity
  • late Roman history
  • Turkey
  • Early Byzantium
  • Later Latin
Courses Taught
  • CNES 3107 - The Age of Constantine
  • Latin 3440 - Advanced Undergraduate Latin
  • CNES 3109 - Age of Justinian and Muhammad
  • Clas 3073 - Roman Religion and Early Christianity
  • CNES 3108 - Age of S.Augustine of Hippo
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Trustee Hawthornden Prize: Trustee of oldest English prize for creative writing , 1986


  • The First Christian Humanist; Lactantius in Late Antiquity and Renaissance: Edited papers on influential Christian apologist (250-325 A.D), 2000 - ongoing
  • An Anatomy of Persecution: Book on motives and reactions in persecution of Christians to 313 A.D., 1995 - ongoing
  • Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity 250-750 A.D.: First-ever comprehensive reference work on period 250-750 A.D., 1999 - ongoing


  • Annual six-week series reading an early Christian text: University Episcopal Center, Minneapolis, 1998
  • Latin College in the Schools: Encouraging Latin in High Schools, 2002 - Continuing


  • Monthly column in the Rake magazine (www.rakemag.com): 2002
  • “Arnobius and Lactantius,“ Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature, 259-65. Nicholson, Oliver, Frances Young, Andrew Louth and Lewis Ayres (edd.), Cambridge, 2004.
  • Flight in Persecution as Imitation of Christ: Lactantius Divine Institutes IV, 18, 1-2. Nicholson, Oliver, 1989.
  • The Topography and Monuments of Eastern Turkey. Nicholson, Oliver, 1993.
  • The 'Pagan Churches' of Maximin Daia and Julian the Apostate. Nicholson, Oliver, 1994.
  • The End of Mithraism. Nicholson, Oliver, May-91.
  • The Corbridge Lanx and the Emperor Julian. Nicholson, Oliver, 1995.
  • “Constantinople: Christian Community, Christian Landscape“, The Making of Christian Communities in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, 27-47 & 155-6. Nicholson, Oliver, Mark Williams (ed.), London, Anthem Press, 2005.
  • ““˜Civitas quae adhuc sustentat omnia’: Lactantius and the City of Rome“. Nicholson, Oliver, (1999).
  • "Caelum potius intuemini: Lactantius and a Statue of Constantine“. Nicholson, Oliver, Studia Patristica XXXIV 177-96, (2001).
  • Constantine's Vision of the Cross. Nicholson, Oliver, (2000).
  • "Boradening the Roman Mind Foreign Prophets in the Historical Scheme of Lactantius" Studia Patriotica (2001) 364-74
  • "Doing what comes naturally: Lactantius and Libido" Studia Patristica 31 (1997) 314-21
  • "The Romans and the Long Causeway at Tiverton" Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society 53 (1995) 121-29
  • "The Aqueduct at Amasya in Pontus" - jointly with Caroline Nicholson Anatolian Studies 43 (1993) 143-46
  • "Lactantius's History of His Own Time: the First English Translation of De Mortibus Persecutorum (1687)" Studia Patristica XXIII (Leuven, 1989) 256-65.
  • "Golden Age and End of the World: Myths of Mediterranean Life from Lactantius to Joshua the Stylite" in The Mediaeval Mediterranean (ed. M. Chiat and K. Reyerson; S.Cloud, Minnesota, 1989) = Mediaeval Studies at Minnesota 3, pages 11-18.
  • "The Source of the Dates in Lactantius Divine Institutes" Journal of Theological Studies 36 n.s. (1985) 291-301.
  • “Preparation for Martyrdom in the Early Church“: Nicholson, Oliver, Editors: D.Vincent Twomey S.V.D. and Mark Humphries , Dublin, Four Courts Press, The Great Persecution: Proceedings of the Fifth Patristic Conference Maynooth 2003 , 61-90, 2009.
  • University College Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Minnesota