Christopher B. Krebs
Christopher B. Krebs has taught at Stanford since 2012. He has also held (visiting) appointments at University College (Oxford), Harvard University, the École Normale Supérieure (Paris), the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (Munich; see his “You say putator”), and the Scuola Normale (Pisa). The (co-)author of five books and some 80 articles, entries, and reviews, and former editor of Histos, he is the recipient of Phi Beta Kappa’s 2012 Christian Gauss Award as well as the 2018 Best Article Prize in the American Journal of Philology.
A philologist and philosopher by training (Berlin, Kiel [1st Staatsexamen 2000, Ph. D. 2003], Oxford [M. St. 2002]), he works in the fields of intellectual history, Greek and Roman historiography, and Latin philology. His monographs include a literary study of Tacitus’ Germania both in the Greco-Roman ethnographic tradition and in the 15th century (Negotiatio Germaniae, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005); a history of the reception of the same text into the 20th century (A Most Dangerous Book, W.W. Norton, 2012), which has been translated into several languages; and an edition of and commentary on the seventh book of Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum, the first ever to offer a literary interpretation of the much-read text (a “Green and Yellow,” Cambridge University Press, 2023); he is currently at work on an intellectual biography of Caesar (W.W. Norton). His (co-)edited volumes include Time and Narrative in Ancient Historiography (CUP, 2012, with Jonas Grethlein), a narratological collection that introduced the concept of the Plupast; The Cambridge Companion to the Writings of Julius Caesar (CUP, 2018, with Luca Grillo), the first discussion of all of Caesar’s (fragmentary) texts; and the just-completed Cambridge Companion to Sallust (CUP, 2024), including the first account of Sallust’s tremendous style in over 50 years and innovative articles on “Lost in Translation” and “Sallust in China.”
In his articles he has also taken advantage of a wide range of methods and approaches. They range from textual criticism (“The cart before the horse: Coelius Antipater FRHist 5F41,” Histos), a philosophy-of-language interpretation of Cicero’s De legibus (“A Seemingly Artless Conversation,” CP; to be translated into Chinese), and lexicography (“Catiline's <Ravaged> Mind: Vastus Animus,” CQ) to rhetorical analysis (“Painting Catiline into a corner,” CQ), intertextuality (esp. with Greek texts: “Thucydides in Gaul,” Histos), reception studies (“… jhre alte Muttersprache … unvermengt und unverdorben,” Philologus), and an updated form of source criticism, which he has styled “constructive wonder” (“‘Making History:’ Constructive Wonder [aka Quellenforschung] and the Composition of Caesar’s Gallic War [Thanks to Labienus and Polybius]," Usages of the Past). Other more consequential articles include: “Borealism. Caesar, Seneca, Tacitus and the Roman discourse about the Germanic north,” (Cultural Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean), “The buried tradition of programmatic titulature among republican historians” (AJP), and "Blood on his words, barley on his mind. True names in Caesar’s speech for the legendary Barley-Muncher (BG 7.77)" (CQ). He is currently completing a piece on the first cultural critic in the western tradition.
He has taught Greek and Latin at all levels, composition classes, and seminars on Greek and Roman historiography and Latin poetry. In the fall, he typically teaches a course on “Great Books, Big Ideas from Antiquity” as part of the Humanities Core (reviewed by The Stanford Review), and in the winter a Freshman Seminar on Ancient Rhetoric, its Contemporary Application, and the Art of Speaking Well (“Eloquence Personified”). He regularly offers classes in Stanford’s Continuing Studies program, such as Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War: An Introduction to the Historian, Realist, Philosopher, and a course on Ancient Rome and its Legacies at Stanford Summer Humanities Institute (an early instantiation of which was covered in the Stanford News). He also co-organized and co-taught for several years in France the summer program Caesar in Gaul for AP Latin teachers of Latin. In 2016 he started the Historiography Jam, the fourth meeting of which is now in planning; other more recent conferences that he co-organized include “Onwards, upwards into the past? Classics in the political discourse” (at Mainz in 2022, with Christine Walde) and “Rhetoric and Historiography: New Perspectives” (at Rome in 2023, with Luca Grillo, Emily Baragwanath, and Andrew Feldherr).
He has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of graduate studies, and, since 2012, on at least one major committee every year. He has appeared on television and radio (most recently on Discovery’s Science Channel) and occasionally reviews for the WSJ, the LRB, and the TLS (most recently, “What would Plato have done,” “Before the die was cast”).