The Anglo-Hellenic League

Press Release - Runciman Award Winner 2015


Armand M. Leroi’s The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science (Bloomsbury Publishing) is this year’s winner of the Runciman Award for books published in 2014.

Announcing the Award at a ceremony held at the Hellenic Centre on 18th June 2015, the Chairman of the panel of judges, Dr Chris Burnand, congratulated the author, stating:


‘This book provides a study focused on one of the least studied of all Aristotle’s texts, the Historia Animalium, ‘The History of Animals’. It has the freshness of a book written not by a classicist but by a Professor of Evolutionary Biology. Given the dryness of Aristotle’s text, it is an enormous achievement to have produced such a readable book – a genuine page-turner from its opening in an Athens bookshop, on to the lagoon of the title on Lesbos, then Aristotle’s dissections, and finally on to the focused discussion of Aristotle’s actual achievement. The book is particularly strong – and even controversial – on Aristotle’s reaction to Plato, but it does not shy away from what Aristotle got wrong. Leroi also clearly disentangles later developments, so avoiding the pitfalls of anachronistic readings of Aristotle, and indeed asks why Aristotle could not take that final step towards the discovery of evolution. These qualities all contribute to the clarity with which the book makes its case for Aristotle’s actual achievement. None of the judges could put it down, and we think it will introduce the biological works of Aristotle to a much wider audience than previously, and do so in a tremendously eloquent way. For that reason it was our unanimous choice as winner of the 2015 Runciman Award.’


More than forty books, on subjects ranging from Classical to Modern Greece, were submitted for the £9000 prize, administered by the Anglo-Hellenic League and sponsored by the National Bank of Greece. In addition to the winner, the shortlist included:


Morley, N.,            Thucydides and the Idea of History,

                                    I.B. Tauris, London 2014

Rappas, A.,            Cyprus in the 1930s: British Colonial Rule and the                                  Roots of the Cyprus Conflict,

                                    I.B. Tauris, London 2014

Scott, M.,                Delphi: A History of the Center 

                                  of the Ancient World,

                      Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2014

Wecowski, M.,       The Rise of the Greek Aristocratic Banquet,

                      Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014

Yosmaoğlu, I. K.,        Blood Ties: Religion, Violence and the Politics                              of Nationhood in Ottoman Macedonia, 1878-1908,

                      Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2014


The Runciman Award, named in honour of the late Sir Steven Runciman and generously sponsored by the National Bank of Greece, is awarded by the Anglo-Hellenic League to a book on Greece or some aspect of the Hellenic scene. Books published in English anywhere in the world are eligible for the Award.

The aim of the award, first presented in 1986, is to stimulate interest in Greek history and culture from earliest times to the present; to reward and encourage good and accessible writing, of which Sir Steven’s works are an example; and to promote wider knowledge and understanding of Greece’s contribution to civilisation and values.


The Runciman Award Judges for 2015 were:

  • Dr Chris Burnand (Chair), Abingdon School

  • Professor Thomas Harrison, Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool.
  • Dr. Dionysios Stathakopoulos, Department of Classics, King’s College London.
  • Mr. Dionysis Kapsalis, Director of the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece 

The Anglo-Hellenic League was founded in 1913 and is dedicated to Anglo-Greek understanding and friendship.  It is a Registered Charity (Reg. No. 278892). In addition to the administration of the Runciman Award, the League organises events and activities promoting its aims.

The office of the League is at the Hellenic Centre, in Marylebone, London.

Queries:  For all information and queries please contact

Download a list of past winners

The Runciman Award, first conceived in 1983 during Lord Jellicoe’s chairmanship of the Anglo-Hellenic League, was presented for the first time in 1986 and named in honour of Sir Steven Runciman, the eminent Byzantine scholar and the League’s longest serving Chairman. It is given each year for a work wholly or mainly about some aspect of Greece or the world of Hellenism, published in English in its first edition in the previous year. The aim of the Award is to stimulate interest in Greek history and culture from earliest times to the present; to reward and encourage good and accessible writing, of which Sir Steven’s works are an example; and to promote wider knowledge and understanding of Greece’s contribution to civilization and values. The Judges will have these aims in mind, giving due weight to the criterion of increasing understanding of Greece’s contribution to civilization. No category of writing will be excluded from consideration. Thus, for example, the prize may be awarded for a work in the field of history, literary studies, biography, travel and topography, the arts, architecture, archaeology, the environment, social and political sciences or current affairs; or for a work of fiction, poetry or drama. Works in translation, with the exception of translations from Greek literature, will not be considered.

The prestige of the Runciman Award is reflected in the quality of its three judges. Each judge serves for three years, acting in the third year as Chair and then retiring so as to make way for a new judge. A fourth judge is nominated by the sponsor

The Runciman Award has received funding from private sources, business and institutions with an interest in the promotion of Greek Culture. Sponsors have included the Onassis Foundation and, since 1999, the National Bank of Greece. On average forty books per year are submitted for appraisal. How the prize is awarded is the responsibility of the judges, whose decision is final.

It is a condition of the Award that short-listed books should be available for purchase to readers in the UK at the time of the Award ceremony. Publishers of shortlisted books will be notified by the Anglo-Hellenic League

From 2006, the value of the Award rose to £9000, a substantial increase on previous years. This reflects the growing prestige of the prize and the related decision, taken in 2004 by the League in conjunction with the sponsors, the National Bank of Greece, to internationalise the award. It can now be awarded for a book published in any part of the world, provided it is first published in English, and meets the other criteria set out above.

Since 2002 the winner has received a medal in addition to the money prize. This was due to the close personal interest of the late Dr. Theodoros Karatzas, then Governor of the National Bank of Greece. The League remains indebted to the Bank for its strong support of the Award.