Enraged Why Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths Emily Katz Anhalt

Publication date:
03 Oct 2017
Yale University Press
280 pages: 210 x 140mm

Millennia ago, Greek myths exposed the dangers of violent rage and the need for empathy and self-restraint. Homer’s Iliad, Euripides’ Hecuba, and Sophocles’ Ajax show that anger and vengeance destroy perpetrators and victims alike. Composed before and during the ancient Greeks’ groundbreaking movement away from autocracy toward more inclusive political participation, these stories offer guidelines for modern efforts to create and maintain civil societies. Emily Katz Anhalt reveals how these three masterworks of classical Greek literature can teach us, as they taught the ancient Greeks, to recognize violent revenge as a marker of illogical thinking and poor leadership. These time-honored texts emphasize the costs of our dangerous penchant for glorifying violent rage and those who would indulge in it. By promoting compassion, rational thought, and debate, Greek myths help to arm us against the tyrants we might serve and the tyrants we might become.

Emily Katz Anhalt is professor of classical languages and literature at Sarah Lawrence College. She has taught Greek mythology and history at Yale University and Trinity College and is the author of Solon the Singer: Politics and Poetics. She lives in Guilford, CT.