Oliver Nicholson

For thirty years Oliver Nicholson taught small courses on later Latin texts and, in Extension as well as in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, large (sometimes very large) lecture courses on the history, religion and culture of Late Antiquity (ca. 250-750 AD). This experience informed his work as General Editor of the two-volume encyclopaedia the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity (2018). For over ten years he fostered liaison between the University and schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin teaching Latin through the College in the Schools programme. Before that 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’. He has now retired to rural Devonshire (hic gens, haec patria) where he has returned to his first interest, the Latin Christian apologist Lactantius, who has some claim to being the brains behind Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • (B.A. 1972), M.A. 1976: Modern History , University of Oxford.
  • D.Phil.: Ancient History , University of Oxford, 1982.

Curriculum Vitae


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

Professional Activities

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


  • Lactantius: Deaths of the Persecutors and Shorter Works: Annotations for TTH translation, 2018-
  • Dionysius of Byzantium Anaplus Bospori: Annotated translation
  • edd. M. Mullett, O. Nicholson and A. Wilson The Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia : 1986-


  • Annual six-week reading group University Episcopal Center: Reading an early Christian text , 1998 - 2013
  • Latin College in the Schools: : Encouraging Latin in Minnesota and Wisconsin High Schools, 2001 - 2013


  • Monthly column for Rake magazine (www.rakemag.com) : 2002 - 2008
  • Oxbridge Camouflaged or Camford Obscured: Some Subfuscations of the Doylean Redactor” in John Bergquist (ed.) So Painful a Scandal: a Facsimile of the Original Manuscript of the "The Adventure of The Three Students by Arthur Conan Doyle with commentary (New York, The Baker Street Irregulars in association with Houghton Library of the Harvard College Library, 2009) 111-20 :
  • Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity. Nicholson, Oliver, Oxford University Press, Editor, 2018. Link
  • The Classical or Christian Lactantius. Nicholson, Oliver, Markus Vinzent, Peeters, Co-Editor, 2017.
  • Conversion to Christianity from Late Antiquity to the Modern Age: Considering the Process in Europe, Asia and the Americas . Nicholson, Oliver, Calvin B. Kendal, W.D. Phillips, Jr., and M. Ragnow , Minnesota Studies in Early Modern History 1, Co-Editor, 2009.
  • Introduction and The Christian Sallust: Lactantius on God, Man and History: Nicholson, Oliver, in O. Nicholson and M. Vinzent, The Classical or Christian Lactantius, Studia Patristica 80 1-16 and 119-37, 2017.
  • Self-Portrait as a Landscape: Ausonius and his Herediolum : Nicholson, Oliver, C. Harrison, C. Humfress and I. Sandwell, Oxford University Press, Being Christian in Late Antiquity a Festschrift for Gillian Clark, 235-52, 2014.
  • What makes a voluntary martyr ?: Nicholson, Oliver, Studia Patristica, 65 159-64, 2013.
  • Laws ending persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire: translation of and commentary on Edict of Galerius and Letter of Licinius (Schlager Group, Dallas, Texas, 2010) : Nicholson, Oliver, Schlager Group (Dallas, Texas), Milestones Documents in World History, 2350 BCE – 1058 CE, 1 295-307 , 2010.
  • “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.
  • “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.
  • “Arnobius and Lactantius,“ Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature, 259-65. Nicholson, Oliver, Frances Young, Andrew Louth and Lewis Ayres (edd.), Cambridge, 2004.
  • "Caelum potius intuemini: Lactantius and a Statue of Constantine“. Nicholson, Oliver, Studia Patristica XXXIV 177-96, (2001).
  • Broadening the Roman Mind Foreign Prophets in the Historical Scheme of Lactantius : Nicholson, Oliver, Studia Patristica 36 364-74, 2001.
  • Constantine’s Vision of the Cross : Nicholson, Oliver, Vigiliae Christianae, 54 309-23, 2000.
  • Two Notes on the Worths and Washfield Church: Nicholson, Oliver, Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries, 38/7 212-14, 2000.
  • ˜Civitas quae adhuc sustentat omnia’: Lactantius and the City of Rome: Nicholson, Oliver, W. Klingshirn and M. Vessey, The Limits of Ancient Christianity: Essays presented to Robert Markus, 7-25, 1999.
  • Review of M. Simmons Arnobius of Sicca: Religious Conflict and Competition in the Age of Diocletian: Nicholson, Oliver, Journal of Theological Studies, 50 n.s. 319-27, 1999.
  • "Doing what comes naturally: Lactantius and Libido" Studia Patristica 31 (1997) 314-21
  • ‘The Passing of Arthur’ and Eikon Basilike”: Nicholson, Oliver, Notes and Queries , 242 = 44/3 n.s. 342-44, 1997.
  • "The Romans and the Long Causeway at Tiverton" Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society 53 (1995) 121-29
  • The Corbridge Lanx and the Emperor Julian: Nicholson, Oliver, Britannia, 26 312-15, 1995.
  • The End of Mithraism : Nicholson, Oliver, Antiquity, 69/263 358-62, June 1995.
  • The 'Pagan Churches' of Maximin Daia and Julian the Apostate" : Nicholson, Oliver, Journal of Ecclesiastical History , 45 1-10, 1994.
  • "The Aqueduct at Amasya in Pontus" - jointly with Caroline Nicholson Anatolian Studies 43 (1993) 143-46
  • Lactantius on Military Service : Nicholson, Oliver, Studia Patristica, 24 175-83, 1993.
  • The Topography and Monuments of Eastern Turkey, review article of T.A. Sinclair Eastern Turkey I, : Nicholson, Oliver, Journal of Roman Archaeology, 6 467-72 , 1993.
  • "Lactantius's History of His Own Time: the First English Translation of De Mortibus Persecutorum (1687)" Studia Patristica XXIII (Leuven, 1989) 256-65.
  • Lactantius, Hermes Trismegistus and Constantinian Obelisks : Nicholson, Oliver, Caroline Nicholson, Journal of Hellenic Studies, 109 198-200 , 1989.
  • Flight in Persecution as Imitation of Christ: Lactantius Divine Institutes IV, 18, 1-2 : Nicholson, Oliver, Journal of Theological Studies, 40 n.s. 48-65 , 1989.
  • "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.
  • Iamblichus in John Aubrey's Miscellanies: Nicholson, Oliver, Notes and Queries , 231 481-82 , 1986.
  • Two Notes on Dara: A Newly-Discovered Quarry at Dara and Shall these Bones Live? a Dakhma at Dara ? : Nicholson, Oliver, American Journal of Archaeology , 89 663-71 , 1985.
  • The Source of the Dates in Lactantius Divine Institutes: Nicholson, Oliver, Journal of Theological Studies , 36 n.s. 291-301 , 1985.
  • The Wild Man of the Tetrarchy: a Divine Companion for the Emperor Galerius : Nicholson, Oliver, Byzantion , 54 253-75 , 1984.
  • Hercules at the Milvian Bridge: Lactantius Divine Institutes I, 21, 6-9: Nicholson, Oliver, Latomus , 43 133-42 , 1984.
  • The Date of Arnobius' Adversus Gentes : Nicholson, Oliver, Studia Patristica , 15 100-07 , 1984.
  • Taq-i Bostan, Mithras and Julian the Apostate: an Irony: Nicholson, Oliver, Iranica Antiqua , 18 177-78 , 1983.
  • Lactantius: Nicholson, Oliver, R.S. Bagnall et al. , Encyclopaedia of Ancient History , 2013.
  • Holy Sepulcher, Chuch of the : Nicholson, Oliver, D.N. Freedman , Anchor Bible Dictionary, 3 258-60, 1992.
  • Platonism, Plotinus, Proclus: Nicholson, Oliver, G. Wakefield, Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, 302-05 , 1983.
  • College of Liberal Arts Arthur “Red” Motley for Exemplary Teaching, 2008/09
  • Horace T. Morse and Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching so Member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, 2015
  • Continuing Education and ExtensionsTeaching Award, 1995