Thalmann, William G. 1947-
THALMANN, William G. 1947-
CAREER: Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1975-84, began as assistant professor of classics, became associate professor of classics; Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, associate professor of classics, 1984-87; University of Southern California, Los Angeles, professor of classics, 1987-2001, professor of classics and comparative literature, 2001—.
MEMBER: American Philological Association, Classical Association of the Midwest and South, California Classical Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: General Education Teaching Award, University of Southern California, 1997-98; Raubenheimer Outstanding Senior Faculty Award, University of Southern California, 1998.
Dramatic Art in Aeschylus's "Seven against Thebes," Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1978.
Conventions of Form and Thought in Early Greek Epic Poetry, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1984.
"The Odyssey": An Epic of Return, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1992.
Editor of ancient world titles, Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, 1998—; member of editorial board, Classical Antiquity, 1994—. Contributor of scholarly articles to periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: William G. Thalmann analyzes classical Greek epic poetry and drama, searching the texts for clues on the culture and societal structure of the ancient Greek world. To quote William C. Scott in the Classical Journal, Thalmann "has a firm and unified conception of a song culture in the early poetic world which would allow both poet and audience to be educated within the same conventions of poetry." The critic continued that Thalmann demonstrates how ancient poets knew "what their audiences would have expected and thereby had an area of creative potential to play upon." Thalmann's research ranges widely through the available ancient texts, but he particularly focuses on Homer's Odyssey and the ways in which it reveals the accepted religious, social, and political tenets of its time.
Thalmann's Conventions of Form and Thought in Early Greek Epic Poetry uses several texts and fragments to analyze the song culture and the expectations of its audience. Scott called the work "a major book on early Greek hexameter poetry . . . firm, persuasive, and compelling." In Classical World, Walter Donlan likewise praised the book as "sound, careful, and thoughtful structural criticism." In the Times Literary Supplement, Peter Walcot praised Thalmann's scholarship but also noted the text's accessibility to nontechnical readers. "His book is characterized by a welcome lack of jargon and the arcane," the critic commented. Walcot concluded that Conventions of Form and Thought in Early Greek Epic Poetry is "a splendid assessment of early Greek verse."
The Swineherd and the Bow: Representations of Class in "The Odyssey" concentrates on the Homeric epic and explores how it reflects ancient Greek attitudes toward class, slavery, and domestic relationships. Thalmann challenges those who would see The Odyssey as subversive of its society, writing instead that the poem "belongs to, and justifies, a world that is strongly hierarchical," according to Robin Osborne in the Times Literary Supplement. Indeed, P. Nieto in Choice cited Thalmann's book for its "many good observations about slaves and other underprivileged social groups." In his Classical Philology review of The Swineherd and the Bow, Ryan Balot characterized the work as "rigorous in its attention to philological detail, eclectic in its use of modern theory, and laudable in its attempt to unify the often separate discourses of literary interpretation, history, and political thought." Balot further contended that the book is "admirably interdisciplinary" and that it "usefully introduces the reader to work done in this area, and which provocatively applies modern theory to ancient texts."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Antiquity, December, 1999, N. James, review of The Swineherd and the Bow: Representations of Class in "The Odyssey," p. 929.
Choice, February, 1979, review of Dramatic Art in Aeschylus's "Seven against Thebes," p. 1660; February, 1999, P. Nieto, review of The Swineherd and the Bow, p. 1061.
Classical Journal, February-March, 1986, William C. Scott, review of Conventions of Form and Thought in Early Greek Epic Poetry, pp. 258-260.
Classical Philology, January, 2001, Ryan Balot, review of The Swineherd and the Bow, p. 82.
Classical World, May-June, 1986, Walter Donlan, review of Conventions of Form and Thought in Early Greek Epic Poetry, p. 341.
Times Literary Supplement, February 22, 1985, Peter Walcot, "A Shared Enterprise," p. 209; June 18, 1999, Robin Osborne, "Going Back to Sea," p. 35.
Yale Review, summer, 1979, review of Dramatic Art in Aeschylus's "Seven against Thebes," pp. 12-13.*