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Enraged: Why Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths

Composed before and during the ancient Greeks’ groundbreaking movement away from vengeful, sectarian loyalties toward the development of democratic political institutions, Greek myths offer guidelines for modern efforts to create and maintain civil societies. Step one: develop the farsightedness to control one’s own rage and stop admiring violent rage in others. Homer’s Iliad, Euripides’ Hecuba, and Sophocles’ Ajax all show that anger and vengeance destroy perpetrators and victims alike and expose the dangers of violent rage and the need for empathy and self-restraint.

In her new book Enraged: Why Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths (August 22, 2017; $30), 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. Rage may be a natural reaction to insult, injury, or injustice, but Homer, Euripides, and Sophocles demonstrate the foolishness of celebrating those who indulge in violent rage. 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.

Enraged: Why Violent Times Need Ancient Greek Myths is available for pre-order on Amazon. 

Yale Book News

"In Enraged, Emily Katz Anhalt, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College, offers an engaging and sometimes inspiring guide to the rich complexities of the Iliad.”


--Mary Beard, “Wrath in the Time of Choler: What the Greek myths teach us about anger in troubled times,” New York Times Book Review, September 10, 2017

"Seneca wrote that the mind can rise above the pinprick of the present, by looking to places distant in time or space ­– a necessary move in the era of Nero or Trump. I loved Emily Katz Anhalt’s Enraged (Yale), which invites us to juxtapose modern machismo with the ancient, equally aggressive and male-dominated, but perhaps more thoughtful political climate of ancient Greece."

--Emily Wilson, in The Times Literary Supplement Best Books of 2017

“Anhalt has taken on three of history’s most important works of literature and applied their lessons to the present day. Enraged is an important reminder that reflection, dialogue, and empathy have no boundaries or time limits.”

--Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

“The moral power of Greek myths is tireless in questioning the human passion for violence. Reading this lively book now, in a darkening era for the humanities, brings back to life the urgent need to be so questioned.”

--Gregory Nagy, Harvard University

“This book closely engages with ancient texts and in so doing shows how turning one’s gaze away from political and social issues of the 21st century can actually help one return to those issues with new perspective and modes of approach.”


--Jonathan Master, Emory University

Emily Katz Anhalt 

Professor of Classics

Sarah Lawrence College

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