William Thalmann

Professor Emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature

Research & Practice Areas

Greek Drama and Epic Poetry


  • Ph.D. Classics, Yale University, 12/1975
  • B.A. Classics, Amherst College, 6/1969
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California, 09/01/2001 –
    • Professor of Classics, University of Southern California, 09/01/1987 – 09/01/2001
    • Associate Professor of Classics, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 07/01/1984 – 07/01/1987
    • Assistant/Associate Professor of Classics, Yale University, 07/01/1975 – 07/01/1984
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Professor Thalmann’s special interests are Greek epic and drama. In particular, using anthropological and other theories, he studies the ways in which performances of ancient texts were the occasion for the convergence of class and gender discourses and the role of these texts within contemporary social and political processes, especially at times of great social change.  He is currently writing a book on geography and the production of space in the Argonautika of Apollonius of Rhodes, treating the poem as an imaginative projection of questions about cultural identity that the Greeks faced in the wake of Alexander’s conquests. 

    In the Classics Department, he teaches graduate courses on Greek literature of various periods and genres and on ancient slavery, as well as undergraduate language courses and General Education courses on Greek literature and culture.  In Comparative Literature, he teaches courses on epic poetry, Dante’s Dvine Comedy, and Los Angeles crime fiction.  He is also editor for the ancient world of the Norton Anthology of World Literature.

    Research Specialties

    Greek Drama and Epic Poetry

  • Book

    • Thalmann, W. G. (2011). Apollonius of Rhodes and the Spaces of Hellenism. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
    • Thalmann, W. (2006). Norton Antohlogy of World Literature. New York: Western Literature.
    • Thalmann, W. (1998). The Swineherd and the Bow: Representations of Class in the Odyssey, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
    • Thalmann, W. (1992). The Odyssey: An Epic of Return, Twayne Masterworks Series, Boston, 1992. Boston, Massachussetts: Twayne.
    • Thalmann, W. (1984). Conventions of Form and Thought in Early Greek Epic Poetry, Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
    • Thalmann, W. (1984). Dramatic Art in Aeschylus’s Seven Against Thebes, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

    Book Chapters

    • Thalmann, W. G. (2011). Some Ancient Greek Representations of Slaves. Reading Ancient Slavery pp. 72-96. London: Duckworth.
    • Thalmann, W. (1998). Female Slaves in the Odyssey. New York, New York: Routledge.

    Encyclopedia Article

    • Thalmann, W. (2011). “Household,” “Class,” “Slavery,” “Competition,” “Anthropology,” “Guest-Friendship,” “Eumaios,” “Philoitios,” “Heralds,” “Iros,” “Melanthios,” “Temenos,” “Board Games,” “Syrie”. (Margalit Finkelberg, Ed.). Blackwell.

    Journal Article

    • Thalmann, W. G. (2014). “Anger Sweeter Than Dripping Honey”: Violence as a Problem in the Iliad. Ramus.
    • Thalmann, W. (2004). The Most Divinely Approved and Political Discord: Thinking About Conflict in the Developing Polis. Classical Antiquity. Vol. 23 (2004), pp. 359-399.
    • Thalmann, W. (1996). Versions of Slavery in the Captivi of Plautus. Ramus. pp. 112-45.
    • Thalmann, W. (1993). Euripides and Aeschylus: The Case of the Hekabe. Classical Antiquity. Vol. 12 (1993), pp. 126-59.
    • Thalmann, W. (1988). Thersites: Comedy, Scapegoats, and Heroic Ideology. Transactions of the American Philological Association. Vol. 118 (1988), pp. 1-28.
    • Thalmann, W. (1986). Aeschylus’s Physiology of the Emotions. American Journal of Philology. Vol. 107 (1986), pp. 489-511.
    • Thalmann, W. (1985). Speech and Silence in the Oresteia I and II. Phoenix. Vol. 39 (1985), pp. 99-118, 221-37.
    • Thalmann, W. (1982). The Lille Stesichorus and the Seven Against Thebes. Hermes. Vol. 110 (1982), pp. 385-91.
    • Thalmann, W. (1980). Xerxes’ Rags: Some Problems in Aeschylus’s Persae. American Journal of Philology. Vol. 101, pp. 260-82.


    • Thalmann, W. (2007). Despotic Authority, Fear and the Ideology of Slavery. In Anastasia Serghidou (Ed.), pp. 193-205. Lille. peur de l’esclave, peur de l’esclavage en mediterranee ancienne.
    • USC Academic Senate Executive Board, Outstanding Service Award, 1999-2000
    • USC Academic Senate Executive Board, President, 1998-1999
    • USC Raubenheimer Outstanding Senior Faculty Award, 1998
    • USC Academic Senate Executive Board, Vice President, 1997-1998
    • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, General Education Teaching Award, 1997-1998
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Comparative Literature, 2007-2008
    • Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Comparative Literature, 2006-2007
    • Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Comparative Literature, 2005-2006


    • Member, General Education Committee, 2013-2014
    • Chair, Committee on the Status of Women and Minority Groups, American Philological Association, 2012-2013
    • Co-Chair, Humaniities Personnel Committee, 2012-2013
    • Member, Governing Board, Phi Beta Kappa, 2012-2013
    • Member, General Education Committee, Spring 2013
    • Chair, College Commons Steering Committee, 2010-2011
    • Chair, Humanities Personnel Committee, 2010-2011
    • Member, Governing Board, Phi Beta Kappa, 2010-2011
    • Member, University Strategic Planning Committee, sub-committee on undergraduate eduction, Spring 2011
    • Member, University Benefits Advisory Committee, 09/01/2008 – 08/31/2009
    • Chair, Faculty Caucus, College Faculty Council, 2008-2009
    • Chair, Faculty Environment Committee, Academic Senate, 2008-2009
    • Chair, University Committee on Fellowships and Awards, 2008-2009
    • Chair, Epsilon of California Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, 2008-2009
    • Member, College Commons Steering Committee, 2008-2009
    • Member, University Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures, 2008-2009
    • Member, Academic Senate, 2008-2009
    • Member, Faculty Council, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, 2008-2009
    • President, Epsilon of California Chapter, Phi Beta Kappa (USC chapter), 2007-2008
    • Chair, Faculty Environment Committee, Academic Senate, 2007-2008
    • Chair, Committee on Fellowships, Awards, and Honors, 2007-2008
    • Chair, Graduate Studies Committee, Department of Comparative Literature, 2007-2008
    • Member, Graduate Committee, Department of Classics, 2007-2008
    • Member, Program Board, Master of Liberal Studies, 2007-2008
    • Chair, Academic Senate Faculty Environment Committee, 2006-2007
    • Chair, Committee on Fellowships, Awards and Honors, 2006-2007
    • Member, College Faculty Council, 2006-2007
    • Member, University Benefits Advisory Committee, 2006-2007
    • Member, Governing Board, Phi Beta Kappa, 2006-2007
  • Committees

    • Member, Committee on the Status of Women and Minorities, American Philological Association, 01/01/2010 –

    Editorships and Editorial Boards

    • Member, Editorial Board, Classical Antiquity, 1994 – 2009
    • Editor for Ancient World, Norton Anthology of World Literature, 1998 – 2007
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