Emily Katz Anhalt

AB, Dartmouth College. PhD, Yale University. Primary interests are Greek epic and lyric poetry, Greek historiography, Greek tragedy, and Greek and Roman sexuality. Publications include: Embattled: How Ancient Greek Myths Empower Us to Resist Tyranny (Stanford University Press, 2021), Enraged: Why Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths (Yale University Press, 2017), Solon the Singer: Politics and Poetics (Lanham, MD, 1993), as well as several articles on the poetics of metaphor in Homer and on narrative techniques in Herodotus. SLC, 2004–

Undergraduate Courses 2022-2023

Literature

First-Year Studies: Reality Check: Homer, Herodotus, and the Invention of History

FYS—Year

Reality is currently under siege. Millions of people today believe, to their core, things that are demonstrably not true. Are we “each entitled to our own reality,” as some would argue? The ancient Greeks thought otherwise. Some 2,500 years ago, the Greeks began to distinguish muthos (origin of the English word “myth”)—an unverified, unverifiable story—from historiē (origin of the English word “history”), an inquiry into the facts for the purpose of making a rational assessment. Simultaneously, the Ancient Greeks began to reject tyranny and introduce democratic political ideals and institutions. Tyrants, however, require obedient subjects unwilling or unable to fact-check even their most preposterous lies. Today’s autocrats and would-be autocrats bombard us with fictions, even contradictory fictions, so as to eradicate the very concept of objective fact. As individuals, we are losing the ability to assess facts on their merits. We’re losing the ability to learn not only from history but even from our own experience. Succumbing to authoritative speakers, many of us prefer virtue-signaling to real-world problem solving. We’re abandoning verbal persuasion in favor of violence and intimidation. Can democratic ideals and institutions survive if we can no longer distinguish myth from history, fiction from fact? What is the value of evidence-based, logical reasoning? How can we learn from fiction without being deceived by it? Reading and discussing Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (c. 8th cent. BCE) and Herodotus’s Histories (c. 440s, 430s BCE), we will examine these and other questions that are as vital to human survival and success today as they were centuries ago. This course is designed for students who welcome open-minded critical inquiry and are eager to read texts that are challenging both intellectually and emotionally. During the fall semester, students will meet with the instructor weekly for individual conferences. In the spring, we will meet weekly or every other week, depending on students’ needs and the progress of their conference projects.

Faculty

Latin

Beginning Latin

Open, Seminar—Year

This course provides an intensive introduction to Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, with a view toward reading the language as soon as possible. Close reading of Vergil’s Aeneid in English will accompany intensive language study in the fall. By midsemester, students will be translating authentic excerpts of Latin poetry and prose. During the spring semester, while continuing to develop and refine their knowledge of Latin grammar and vocabulary, students will read selections from Vergil’s Aeneid in Latin.

Faculty

Greek (Ancient)

Readings in Intermediate Greek

Intermediate, Seminar—Fall

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor

Qualified students will read selected passages of Homer and Herodotus in Greek. The class will meet twice each week.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Literature

Can This Republic Be Saved? Cautionary Evidence From Ancient Rome

Open, Seminar—Year

The democratic republic in the United States was modeled on the Roman Republic, for good and ill, and has lasted just 234 years. Our democratic republic is now under siege, both figuratively and literally, by forces threatening to replace it with a dictatorship or some form of authoritarian populism. The ancient Roman Republic lasted 450 years before imploding into a military dictatorship. The Roman experience shows that the introduction or reintroduction of violence into the political process—even if the aim is social justice—absolutely precludes any possibility of equity or justice. Since the collapse of the Roman Republic, history has shown repeatedly that political violence, if condoned and unchecked, inevitably produces not social justice but the atrocities and devastations of fascism or totalitarianism. This course will examine this and other lessons from ancient Roman literature and history that are vital for us today if we hope to survive and thrive as individuals, as members of various communities, and as a species. We will read (in English translation) and discuss selected works by Catullus, Cicero, Sallust, Appian, Plutarch, Horace, Livy, Ovid, and Cassius Dio.

Faculty

Defeating Despotism: Essential Strategies From Ancient Greek and Roman Epic Poetry

Open, Seminar—Fall

Fearing tyranny, the framers of the US Constitution in the 18th century drew vital lessons from Ancient Greek democracy (508-322 BCE) and the Roman Republic (509-27 BCE). Before and during the Greeks’ and Romans’ radical and unprecedented experiments in broader political participation, Ancient Greek and Roman epic poetry shaped cultural attitudes regarding the use and abuse of power. As the modern world drifts backward in the 21st century toward various forms of dictatorship and authoritarian populism, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Vergil’s Aeneid can help arm us against the tyrants we might serve and the tyrants we might become. Students will read all three epics in their entirety in English translation.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: The Perils of Passion: Ancient Greek History for Today’s Troubled Times

Open, FYS—Year

Are we unwittingly reliving the past? Authoritarianism, magical thinking, and tribalism are beginning to characterize the 21st century as they characterized archaic Greece. Over centuries, however, the ancient Greeks experienced a movement in the opposite direction: They began to prioritize reality, condemn tyranny, and experiment with broader forms of political participation. In the fifth century BCE, the ancient Greeks devised, simultaneously, the concepts of history and democracy. As the Athenians were experimenting with the world’s first-ever democratic political institutions, the historians Herodotus and Thucydides distinguished history from myth and offered examples of behaviors to emulate or to avoid. These early historians can help us today to analyze facts, identify causes and consequences, and avoid the pitfalls of the past. Students will read (in English translation) Herodotus’s Histories and Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War, as well as selected works by Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristotle, and Ps.-Xenophon. Students will meet with the instructor individually for a half-hour conference once every two weeks. On the alternate weeks, when individual conferences do not meet, the entire class will meet for a group conference.

Faculty

The Perils of Passion: Ancient Greek Wisdom for Today’s Troubled Times

Open, Lecture—Year

Are we unwittingly reliving the past? Authoritarianism, magical thinking, and tribalism are beginning to characterize the 21st century as they characterized archaic Greece. Over centuries, however, the ancient Greeks experienced a movement in the opposite direction: They began to prioritize reality, condemn tyranny, and experiment with broader forms of political participation. During the late sixth through fifth centuries BCE, ancient Athenians devised, simultaneously, the concepts of democracy and history. As the Athenians were experimenting with the world’s first-ever democratic political institutions, the historians Herodotus and Thucydides distinguished history from myth and offered examples of behaviors to emulate or to avoid. Today, those early historians can help us analyze facts, identify causes and consequences, and avoid the pitfalls of the past. Students will read, in English translation, Herodotus’ Histories and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, as well as selected works by Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristotle, and Ps.-Xenophon.

Faculty

Greek (Ancient)

Beginning Greek

Open, Seminar—Year

This course provides an intensive introduction to Ancient Greek grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, with the aim of reading the language as soon as possible. By mid-semester in the fall, students will be reading authentic excerpts of Ancient Greek poetry and prose. Students will also read and discuss selected works of Plato, Aristophanes, Thucydides, and Ps.-Xenophon in English. During the spring semester, while continuing to refine their grammar and reading skills, students will read extended selections of Plato’s Apology in the original Greek.

Faculty

Intermediate Greek: The Perils of Passion: Ancient Greek Wisdom for Today’s Troubled Times

Intermediate, Lecture—Year

See course description under Literature.

Faculty

Intermediate/Advanced Greek: Defeating Despotism: Essential Strategies From Ancient Greek and Roman Epic Poetry

Intermediate/Advanced, Seminar—Fall

Fearing tyranny, the framers of the US Constitution in the 18th century drew vital lessons from ancient Athenian democracy (508-322 BCE) and the Roman Republic (509-27 BCE). Before and during the Greeks’ and Romans’ radical and unprecedented experiments in broader political participation, Ancient Greek and Roman epic poetry shaped cultural attitudes regarding the use and abuse of power. As the modern world drifts backward in the 21st century toward various forms of dictatorship and authoritarian populism, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Vergil’s Aeneid can help arm us against the tyrants we might serve and the tyrants we might become. Students will read all three epics in their entirety in English translation. Greek conferences will meet twice each week either individually or in small groups to suit each student’s needs/abilities. In conference, students will develop their comprehension of ancient Greek by close reading of selected texts.

Faculty

Readings in Intermediate Greek: Herodotus and Thucydides

Intermediate, Seminar—Year

This course will review grammar concepts, as necessary, while reading—in Greek—selected passages of Herodotus and Thucydides.

Faculty

Latin

Beginning Latin

Open, Seminar—Year

This course provides an intensive introduction to Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary—with a view toward reading the language as soon as possible. Close reading of Vergil’s Aeneid in English will accompany intensive language study in the fall. By midsemester, students will be translating authentic excerpts of Latin poetry and prose. During the spring semester, while continuing to develop and refine their knowledge of Latin grammar and vocabulary, students will read selections of the Aeneid in Latin.

Faculty

Intermediate Latin

Intermediate, Seminar—Year

See the full description under Literature: Can This Republic Be Saved? Cautionary Evidence From Ancient Rome. Intermediate Latin students will complete the reading assignments for the literature course and attend all literature seminar meetings. In place of an independent conference project, Intermediate Latin students will read selected works in Latin and attend twice-weekly Latin group conferences.

Faculty

Readings in Intermediate Latin

Intermediate, Seminar—Year

See the full description under Literature: Can This Republic Be Saved? Cautionary Evidence From Ancient Rome. Students will be exempt from the literature seminars and some reading and writing assignments but must attend the twice-weekly Latin group conferences. 

Faculty

Additional Information

Selected Publications

Nikkei Asia: “How the Ancient Greeks Can Help China and the U.S. Avoid War.” July 10, 2022.

Epic poems and tragedies encourage us not to view competition as a zero-sum game.

Book Review: From Rome in 63 BCE — A Warning for Our Perilous Political Moment

This most timely new translation of Sallust’s The War Against Catiline describes the ancient version of a phenomenon we will recognize instantly: a cold-blooded grift transmuted into terrorism posing as patriotism.

The Arts Fuse

Enraged: Why Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths

A fascinating new study of three classic works of ancient Greek literature, exposing their enduring relevance. These stories, by Homer, Sophocles, and Euripides, all emphasize the consequences of glorifying violent rage and cultivate instead the capacity for empathy, self-restraint, and rational debate.

Yale University Press, August 2017

Solon the Singer: Politics and Poetics

In the series <em>Greek Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches</em>, edited by Gregory Nagy.

Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1993.

The Tragic Io: Defining Identity in a Democratic Age

New England Classical Journal

42.4 (2015), 246-260

A Man Out of Time: Sophocles’ Aias: 646-692

Transference Literary Journal

Fall 2015: 94-97

Seeing is Believing: Four Women on Display in Herodotus’ Histories

New England Classical Journal

35.4 (2008), 269-280

Translation and Interpretation for Intermediate and Advanced Students.

Classical World

100.1 (2006) 45-48.

Polycrates and his Brothers: Herodotus’ Depiction of Fraternal Relationships in the Histories.

Classical World

98.2 (Winter 2005), 139-151.

A Matter of Perspective: Penelope and the Nightingale in Odyssey 19. 512-534.

The Classical Journal

vol. 97, no. 2. (Dec.-Jan., 2001-2002), 145-159.

Lectures, Talks and Presentations

Interview on The Arts Fuse

Author Interview: “Embattled” — Can Ancient Greek Myths Help Us Resist Tyranny?

Interview on the Future Imperfect Podcast

What can ancient Greeks teach us about resisting tyranny? Overbearing governments have been with us throughout time. Professor Emily K. Anhalt believes that the ancient Greeks left us good advice in their poetry to tell us how to resist tyranny.

Guest Appearance on BYU Humanities Podcast

Subduing Rage through Ancient Greek Myth: with Matthew Wickman and guest Emily Katz Anhalt