Richard F. Thomas, George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics and Harvard College Professor, was educated at the University of Auckland (B.A. 1972; M.A. 1973), and at the University of Michigan (Ph.D. 1977). He taught at Harvard as Assistant and Associate Professor, 1977–84; as Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati, 1984–86; as Professor at Cornell University, 1986–87; as Professor of Greek and Latin at Harvard from 1987–2010; as George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics since 2010; he was visiting Professor of Latin, University of Venice (Spring, 1991).
He has served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Graduate Studies, and Department Chair in the Department of the Classics. He is Co-chair of the Seminar on "The Civilizations of Ancient Greece and Rome," in Harvard's Mahindra Humanities Center. He has served as Director of the American Philological Association and as Trustee and Director of the Vergilian Society, of which he is currently Vice President. Since 2001, he has been a Trustee of the Loeb Classical Library, and is currently serving as Editor of Harvard Studies in Classical Philology.
His publications include a monograph Lands and Peoples in Roman Poetry: The Ethnographical Tradition (Cambridge 1982), a two-volume text and commentary on Virgil's Georgics (Cambridge 1988); a collection of his articles on the subject of Virgilian intertextuality, Reading Virgil and his Texts (Michigan 1999); a study of the ideological reception of Virgil from its beginnings through the twentieth century, Virgil and the Augustan Reception (Cambridge 2001) and two co-edited books to which he also contributed: with Charles Martindale, Classics and the Uses of Reception (Blackwell 2006); with Catharine Mason the co-edited online volume, The Performance Artistry of Bob Dylan, (Oral Tradition 22.1 2007); a commentary on Horace, Carmen saeculare and Odes 4 (Cambridge 2011); and, co-edited with Jan Ziolkowski, a three-volume Virgil Encyclopedia (Wiley-Blackwell 2013). He also co-edited and contributed to Widener Library: Voices from the Stacks, a special issue of Harvard Library Bulletin (Cambridge, MA 1996). He has published articles, notes and reviews on Hellenistic Greek poetry, on Roman poetry, particularly of the Republican and Augustan periods, on the reception of Classical literature, and on the lyrics of Bob Dylan. For further details, see Publications.
In his teaching and research he is interested in a variety of critical approaches (chiefly philological, intertextual, narratological, reception poetics), and in literary history, metrics and prose stylistics, genre studies, translation theory and practice, the reception of Classical literature and culture, particularly with respect to Virgil.