Faculty Spotlight: Bill Greenwalt
Where are you from / where did you grow up?
My father was a career Army officer, so I moved around a lot as a youth: but in brief, born in Kansas, I spent my junior high school years in Germany, and my high school and college years in Virginia. I took all of my academic degrees from UVa.
What are your areas of specialization?
For my PhD I focused on ancient Greek and Roman history, and minored in the Medieval period. My publication interests have mostly been devoted to early Macedonian history, because as a political historian I have always been interested in liminality, both chronological and geographical.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a book which traces the evolution of Macedonian kingship from the Argead period to the end of the Antigonid dynasty (so blithely overthrown by Rome in a series of vile aggressive wars).
What first drew you or currently draws you to study Classics?
What drew me to Classics was ancient history, and what drew me to ancient history was my reading of Herodotus and Thucydides in which I saw chronicled many events which were reacted to by those living during those times in ways that I would not have done. Thus, I began to ask myself, why? What conditions influence the actions of human beings, and do the changes in those conditions affect us in ways which influence us to react in novel ways? (These questions also diverted me from any further study in the sciences (particularly in optical and biological research), to a study of the humanities--as an undergraduate student I eventually majored in English (literature) and History. My graduate degrees are in History. I have no degree anywhere in Classics.
Who are your favorite classical authors to read or teach?
I have eclectic tastes in all that I read, and I read a lot and quickly. Of the ancient authors I am particularly drawn to the Iliad (I tend to be overly judgmental at times, but I always think of Odysseus as a scumbag), Hesiod, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plutarch, Tacitus, Cicero (but only the letters, the rest I find mostly to be self-serving bloviation), and Lucian.
What are your favorite classes or subjects to teach?
Of the many courses I have taught over the decades I particularly enjoy the upper-level Greek and Roman history sequences and Greek Religion.
Do you have any Classics-related recommendations for summer reading or watching?
As for summer reading, go light--check out the British historical mystery author, Lindsey Davis in either her Falco or Flavia Albia series: particularly some of the books in the former, especially, Silver Pigs--with perhaps the best opening line I have ever read in a novel. That's all Folks.....