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 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–

Course Information

Current undergraduate courses

Beginning Greek


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 several dialogues of Plato 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.

Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Intermediate/Advanced Latin: Catullus, Ovid, and the Challenge to Autocracy


What happened to Roman intellectual and political life as the Republic was collapsing under the reign of Augustus? What can poets of ancient Rome teach citizens of a modern republic? Students will develop and refine their Latin reading comprehension skills by reading (in Latin) extended selections of Catullus in the fall and Ovid in the spring. Selected works of Cicero, Sallust, Livy, Horace, and Ovid will be read in English.

Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Literature in Translation: Vergil, Ovid, and the Challenge to Autocracy


What happened to Roman intellectual and political life under the reign of Augustus? How did Roman epic poetry transform poetic tradition and confront political authority? Students will read Vergil’s Aeneid and Ovid’s Metamorphoses in English, as well as additional works of Ovid, Livy, and Horace.

Related Cross-Discipline Paths

Previous courses

Beginning Latin


This course provides an intensive introduction to Latin grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, with a view to reading the language as soon as possible. Close reading of Vergil’s Aeneid in English will accompany intensive language study in the fall. By mid-semester, 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.


First-Year Studies: Amid the Tears and Laughter: The Political Art of Ancient Greek Tragedy and Comedy

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greeks began a 200-year experiment in democratic government. Considerably less democratic than the modern United States, ancient Athens was also considerably more democratic. Like other political systems throughout the world and (until only very recently) throughout history, the Athenian democracy excluded women, slaves, and foreigners from political participation. At the same time, it embodied the ideals and consequences of direct democracy. Many issues confronted by Athenian society during the fifth-century BCE remain powerful questions in our own time: How do you safeguard democratic liberties against tyrannical violence and intimidation from within and from without? How do you balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the group? How do you promote individual achievement that benefits rather than harms the community as a whole? How do you reconcile the ethical demands of democracy with the political necessities of foreign policy? What is the function of “entertainment” in a democratic society? We will examine the crucial role of tragedy and comedy in transmitting, challenging, and shaping Athenian values throughout the fifth-century BCE. Above all, we will consider the implications and insights that these plays continue to offer 21st-century audiences. Students will read works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Aristotle in translation.


How Stories Define Us: Greek Myths and the Invention of Democracy


The ancient Greeks originated the name, concept, and political structure of democracy. Their literature both witnessed and effected the very first-ever political and cultural transformation from tyranny to democracy, from rigid hierarchy to equality and the rule of law. How did telling and re-telling their myths help the Greeks develop the values necessary to make this transition? What can the ancient Greeks’ cultural transformation and their eloquent testimony about it teach the modern world? Readings will include the archaic poetry of Homer and Hesiod (eighth- to seventh-century BCE) and selected Athenian tragedies and comedies (fifth-century BCE). Students will attend one lecture and one group conference each week.


Intermediate/Advanced Greek: Topics in Greek Literature


Themes and texts for this course will depend on enrollment and student interest. Students will attend lectures in literature: How Stories Define Us: Greek Myths and the Invention of Democracy. In addition, students will meet individually (or in small groups) once or twice a week to discuss readings in Greek.


Intermediate/Advanced Latin: Livy and Ovid: Foundations and Transformations


What happened to Roman intellectual and political life under Rome’s first emperor? What can the literature, history, and politics in the age of Augustus teach the citizens of a modern Republic? This course will examine the extraordinary flowering of literary culture following the collapse of the Roman Republic. We will assess the emergence of a distinctively Roman humanitas that still exerts an influence on the modern world. Students will develop and refine their Latin reading comprehension skills by reading extended selections of Livy in the fall and Ovid in the spring. Selected works of Vergil, Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, and Livy will be read in English. 


Additional Information

Selected Publications

Enraged: Why Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths

forthcoming from the Yale University Press

Solon the Singer: Politics and Poetics

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

In the series Greek Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches, edited by Gregory Nagy.

“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

“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.

What do you love about teaching at Sarah Lawrence?
Education here is a collaborative process. Students have to find out what they are excited about. When my students are devising their conference projects, I tell them the topic they choose should be the thing that gets them out of bed in the morning.

And they are very creative. I had one student who did a conference project looking at gender and sexuality in fifth-century Greek vase painting and comparing that to modern clothing advertisements. Another student examined the wartime rhetoric recorded by Thucydides, the fifth-century historian, and compared these speeches to the wartime speeches of Presidents Lincoln, Roosevelt, and George W. Bush. I love it when students can take lessons from the ancient world and translate them for modern times.

How do you connect with students and make sure they are engaged in the material you teach?
My goals are to help students discover how they love to use their minds and to give them the tools to think with. I think college students are at a stage in their lives when they are drawn to the big questions; they really want to understand what it means to be a human being.

I try to draw that curiosity out by being inventive in my classes. We do some role-playing, which my students love. We usually have a "conversation in the underworld," where students take on the roles of various fictional characters or historical/mythical figures, and discuss the implications of what they’ve read—for then and for now. I’ve had classes do a pre-war Congress where we tried to avert the Peloponnesian War. We also put Cicero on trial for his execution of the Catilinarian conspirators. I think students like that I try to get them to engage with the material and engage with each other and they are usually very receptive to that.