SAS Honors Program

Will count towards SAS - Classics Major and Minor.

Violent cults and initiation rituals. Gods raping mortals in myth. Communal rituals that involve obscene and explicit sexual language and gestures. Public nudity. What constituted a transgression in the social, sexual, religious, military, or political realm was often defined very differently by the ancient Greeks than it is by us in the present day. In this class, we will examine ancient Greek myth, history, and religion, with a focus on the evidence we have regarding what the Greeks considered to be unacceptable violations of cultural norm(s). We will also look at examples of deliberate, accepted, and even institutionalized violations of cultural norm(s) in their religious (and ritual) contexts, and reflect on their various functions. Through a close critical analysis of the ancient Greeks’ myths, literature, laws, and rituals, we will ask ourselves broader questions: for instance, how, why, and when a given society erects particular boundaries that implicitly or explicitly define the realm of acceptable social, political, and other behaviors. We will examine how culturally relative these boundaries are, while also paying due attention to the universal and continuing concerns that underlie the establishment of such boundaries to begin with. We will apply an interdisciplinary approach to the artistic, documentary and literary evidence from ancient Greece at our disposal, bringing into play modern theory and comparative anthropology. On completing the course, students will have a better appreciation of the world around them, and of the spoken and unspoken norms that shape their relationship as an individual to the community at large. The parallels as well as the differences between ancient Greek cultural, political, and social practices and our own will contribute to their understanding — and critical questioning — of the contemporary world around us.

EMILY ALLEN-HORNBLOWER, associate professor of Classics, has also served as the Undergraduate Director of Classics since 2010. She is a recipient of The Rutgers Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Service for her teaching in NJ prisons (2016), and of the Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence honors award for outstanding teaching and scholarly work (2015). Her areas of interest include: storytelling; religion and gender; ancient cultural history; ancient Greek and Roman epic; Greek drama (tragedy and comedy); and social justice. Her book and articles center on ancient (and modern) conceptions and portrayals of the human: the human condition and suffering; interpersonal relations; and factors of connection (and disconnection) between individuals and groups. She loves teaching and advising, and taking her students beyond the classroom (for instance to theater and museum outings), and to bring to light (and to life!) crucial aspects of the material covered in class by way of hands-on contact with material culture and a more experiential approach to studying and learning.
She is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, and received her Ph.D in Classics from Harvard University, along with a joint doctoral degree from the Sorbonne in Paris (where she received a BA in both Classics and English). Outside of the classroom, she is usually doing something that involves bicycling, her dog, and cooking — or any combination of the three.


Nelson Biological Labs
Room A-110
P 848-445-3912


Milledoler Hall
Room 12
P 848-932-1406


Ruth Adams Building
Suite 108 
P 848-932-2011


Lucy Stone Hall
Room A-201
P 848-445-3206


100 Rockafeller Rd
Rm. 1031
P 848-445-3206

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