James Adam

Fellow and Senior Tutor, Emmanuel College, Cambridge

The Religious Teachers of Greece

In his series of twenty-two lectures, Adam traces the development of the religious traditions of ancient Greece from Homer to Plato. Concerned with the tension between poets and philosophers, Adam explores how they influenced religious ideas and traditions of the time. He views these lectures as particularly important for students of early Christian literature. 


James Adam was born on 7 April 1860 in the small parish of Keithhall, near Aberdeen, Scotland. Remembered for his translations of Platonic dialogues, he produced some of the most concise and illuminating notes on these texts available today. As a classical scholar at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, he won the Chancellor’s Medal in 1884. That same year, he became a junior fellow at Emmanuel College, and soon after, was appointed Classical Lecturer, a position he held for the remainder of his life. 

Fighting to ensure that every student had an educational grounding in Greek thought, he was also a keen supporter of the claims of women to degrees. Lecturing on Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, and the Greek lyrical poets, Adam had kind and affectionate relationships with pupils and colleagues. His prominent works include Bibliography: Translation of Plato’s Apology (1887), Crito and Euthyphro (1888), Protagoras (1893), Republic: (a) Text (1897), Republic: (b) Text and Commentary (1902), The Nuptial Number of Plato (1891), and The Vitality of Platonism and Other Essays (1911).  

Published/Archival Resources