Dr Melinda Letts

Lecturer in Classics

Melinda is Lecturer in Classics at Harris Manchester College and at Jesus College, where she specialises in the teaching of Greek and Latin Languages. She is a member of the Faculty of Classics, and is Senior Member of the Oxford Latinitas Society, which runs regular classes and seminars in spoken Latin (https://www.oxfordlatinitas.org). Her research interests focus on the social history of ancient medicine.

Melinda read Literae Humaniores at St Anne’s College, Oxford, followed by two years as Research Assistant to Professor Keith Hopkins, with whom she collaboratively authored a chapter of his book Death and Renewal (Cambridge, 1983). She then decided to try life outside academia, working first in overseas development and subsequently in a series of leadership roles in UK health charities and public bodies, for which she was appointed OBE in 2003. She returned to academic life in 2009. Her doctoral research, undertaken at Christ Church, Oxford, brought together both strands of her career in a study of the 1st century Greek doctor Rufus of Ephesus’s unique treatise on the importance of questioning patients about all aspects of their life and condition.


Review of Jacques Jouanna, Greek Medicine from Hippocrates to Galen: Selected Papers (Brill, 2012), in Medical History 57, 447-449 (2013).

‘Rufus of Ephesus and the Patient’s Perspective in Medicine’, in British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22.5: 996-1020 (2014).

‘Questioning the Patient, Questioning Hippocrates: Rufus of Ephesus and the Pursuit of Knowledge’, in G. Petridou and C. Thumiger, eds., Homo Patiens – Approaches to the Patient in the Ancient World, 81-103. Leiden and Boston (2016)

‘Mental Perceptions and Pathology in the Work of Rufus of Ephesus’, in C. Thumiger and O.N. Singer, eds., Mental Illness in Ancient Medicine, 176-197. Leiden and Boston (2018).



Contact Details
  • melinda.letts@hmc.ox.ac.uk