Catherine Rubincam

Catherine Rubincam

Associate Professor Emeritus
Historical Studies - Classical Civilization

Catherine Rubincam holds an Honours B.A. in Classics from the University of Toronto, a B.A. in Literae Humaniores from Oxford University, and a Ph.D. in Classical Philology from Harvard University. Her publications comprise articles on Greek historiography, focussing on the work of several Greek historians (particularly Herodotus, Thucydides, and Diodorus Siculus), most involving the application of a comparative approach to major generic issues, particularly the historian's practice in using numbers and quantified information.

Her recent monograph, Quantifying Mentalities:  The Use of Numbers by Ancient Greek Historians (Ann Arbor:  University of Michigan Press 2021), is the fruit of a 25-year major research project, funded by a series of SSHRC grants, which developed a coding system that captures a standard set of information on every number in a text.  The resulting statistics provide a ‘numeric profile’ for any author or work which is no less important for their individuality than a statistical profile of their general writing style.  The book explains this methodology and sets out the results of its application to the six earliest largely surviving works of Ancient Greek historiography (Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon [Anabasis and Hellenica], Polybius, and Diodorus Siculus. It thus demonstrates how this mapping of the landscape of numeric practice establishes a standard of comparison for the numbers in every text.  This comprehensive and quantitative methodology can help modern readers to become more sensitive to how these ancient texts might have sounded to the author and his original readers – a great benefit in the reconstruction or interpretation of ancient Greek history.

She has also published 29 articles, including, most recently:

"Numeric communication in the Greek historians:  Quantification and qualification", in Sing, R., T.A. van Berkel, R. Osborne (eds.), Numbers and Numeracy in the Greek Polis, Leiden:  Brill (Mnemosyne Suppl. Vol. 446), 31-148.

• “How were battlefield dead counted in Greek warfare?” The Ancient History Bulletin 32 (2018) 94-103.

• “New and old approaches to Diodoros”, in L. I. Hau and B. Sheridan (eds.), Diodoros of Sicily. Historiographical Theory and Practice in the Bibliotheke (Leuven: Peeters, 2018) 13-44.

"The 'rationality' of Herodotus and Thucydides as evidenced by their respective use of numbers", in D. Lateiner and E. Foster (eds.), Thucydides and Herodotus: Connections, Divergences, and Later Reception (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012) 97-122.

• "The numeric practice of the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia", Mouseion 9 (2009[2012]) 303-329.

• "'In the 100th year approximately … ' (Thuc. 8.68.4):  Qualified ordinal statements of time in Greek historical narrative”, Mouseion 8 (2008[2011]) 319-332.

• "Thucydides 8.68.4:  A highly unusual numeric statement", The Ancient History Bulletin 22 (2008[2010]) 83-87.

• “Herodotus and his descendants:  Numbers in ancient and modern accounts of Xerxes’ campaign”, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 104 (2008) 93-138.


As a member of the University of Toronto’s full-time faculty from 1969 to 2011, she taught undergraduate courses at the Mississauga Campus and graduate courses on the St. George Campus. Her undergraduate teaching included courses at all levels in Greek History, and introductory courses in Graeco-Roman Art and Architecture, and in both Ancient Greek and Latin, as well as pioneering the development of courses in Classical Mythology and in Latin & Greek in Scientific Terminology, which have now become well subscribed staples of the Classical Civilization programmes at both UTM and the St. George Campus. Her graduate teaching included MA courses on Greek Prose Literature and Research Seminars on Greek Historiography.

Administrative service at the University of Toronto included a five-year term as Associate Dean of Humanities at UTM (1993-96 and 1997-99), a year as Interim Chair of Historical Studies at UTM (2003-04), a two-year term as Associate Chair of that department (2008-10), and, most recently, since her official retirement, a six-month term as Director, Teaching & Learning Support and Innovation (January-June 2012).

She served for 25 years on the Editorial Committee of Phoenix, a Journal of the Classical Association of Canada:  as Secretary-Treasurer (1977-83), Review Editor (1983-92), Editor of the journal (1992-97), and of the Phoenix Supplementary Series (1992-2002), and in succession as Vice-President, President, and Past President of the Classical Association of Canada (2000-2006). In 2009 she was honoured by the Classical Association of Canada's Award of Merit.

She also served a three-year term (1999-2002) as a member of a SSHRC adjudication committee for the Standard Research Grant Competition, chairing the committee in the second and third year.

In retirement since Dec. 31, 2011, she continues to work on extensions of the ‘Numbers in Greek Historiography’ project (an article on the use of numbers in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) and hopes to be able soon to resume work on another project, a monograph on the history of Liberty iconography on coins.

Since November 2014, she has resided in Victoria, B.C., where she holds an Adjunct Faculty appointment in the Department of Greek and Roman Studies at the University of Victoria.

Ph.D. (Classical Philology, Harvard University)
B.A. (Literae Humaniores, Oxford University)
B.A. (Honours Classics, University of Toronto)


Ancient Greek Historiography; Graeco-Roman Numismatic Iconography