Hanna Roisman

Arnold Bernhard Professor in Arts and Humanities, Professor of Classics (Retired)

Box 4162

Phone: 207-859-4162
Fax: 207-859-4705
Mailing Address:
4162 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8841
Roisman, Hanna


B.A. Tel Aviv University, Israel
M.A. Tel Aviv University, Israel
Ph.D. University of Washington

Areas of Expertise

  • Homeric Epic
  • Greek and Roman tragedy
  • Classical literature and modern film
  • Greek Elegy

Current Research

Hanna is currently engaged in writing a commentary on Sophocles’ Electra, as well as in writing book chapters on the Modern Reception of Euripides’ Alcestis, and Euripides’ Electra.


Hanna has published numerous journal articles and book chapters focusing on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Hesiod's didactic epics, Greek Elegy, the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and Classics and Contemporary Film and TV.
She is the author of the following books: Loyalty in Early Greek Epic and Tragedy, Hain 1984; The Odyssey Re-Formed, with F. M. Ahl, Cornell University Press 1996; Nothing is As It Seems: The Tragedy of the Implicit in Euripides' Hippolytus, Rowman and Littlefield 1999; Euripides' Alcestis, A Commentary for Students, The University of Oklahoma Press, 2003, with C.E.A. Luschnig; Sophocles: Philoctetes, Duckworth, 2005; Sophocles: Electra, translation with notes, Focus Classical Library, 2008; Euripides’ Electra, A Commentary, The University of Oklahoma Press, 2011, with C.E.A. Luschnig; Editor of the Encyclopedia of Greek Tragedy, Wiley-Blackwell, 3 vols. 2014.

The Odyssey Re-formed with Frederick Ahl. This is the most stimulating and enjoyable book about Homer that I have read in many years. It is attention to all the relevant issues and bibliography, methodologically sound, clearly and carefully argued, but also boldly original. Along the way, Ahl and Roisman offer may pleasures and fresh insights. Well brought out are the muse's narrative etiquette and mythopoeic agility, the resonance of patterns and symbols, wordplay, pathos, and humor. Jeffrey Henderson, Boston University

Nothing Is As It Seems: The Tragedy of the Implicit in Euripides' Hippolytus In this valuable book, Hanna M. Roisman provides a uniquely comprehensive look at Euripides' Hippolytus. Roisman begins with an examination of the ancient preference for the implicit style, and suggests a possible reading of Euripides' first treatment of the myth that would account for the Athenians audiences' reservations about his Hippolytus Veiled. She proceeds to analyze significant scenes in the play, including Hippolytus' prayer to Artemis, Phaedra's delirium, Phaedra's "confession" speech, and the interactions between Theseus and Hippolytus. Concluding with a discussion of the meaning of the tragic in the Hippolytus, Roisman questions the applicability in this case of the ideas of the tragic flaw. Nothing is as It Seems includes extensive comparisons of Euripides' play with the Phaedra of Seneca. This is a very important book for students and scholars of Greek tragedy, literature, and rhetoric.

Euripides' Alcestis with Notes and Commentary by C.A.E. Lusching and H.M.Roisman. Vol29 in the Oklahoma Series in Classical Culture.Euripides' Alcestis - perhaps the most anthologized Attic drama - is an ideal text for students reading their first play in the original Greek. Literary commentaries and language aids in most editions are too advanced or too elementary for intermediate students of the language, but in this new student edition, Luschnig and Roisman remedy such deficiencies. In their presentation, Luschnig and Roisman have initiated a new method for introducing students to current scholarship.

Sophocles' Philoctetes

Sophocles' Philoctetes is an extraordinarily timely and
timeless play. After having cynically abandoned the hero Philoctetes on a
deserted island some ten years earlier, the wily Odysseus strives to lure him
to join the Greek forces in their war against Troy. The play dramatizes the
suffering and rage of Philoctetes and the moral and emotional development of
Odysseus' assistant, the young Neoptolemus.
This is an introduction to the play for students and lay readers. The well
focused chapters on Greek theater and performance, the mythical background, and
the literary, intellectual, and political context illuminate the issues with
which the play grapples. Its persuasive analysis of the characters and plot
shed light on the play's complexities and ambiguities, making Sophocles' great
play accessible, enjoyable and meaningful to modern readers.

Sophocles' Electra

In this new take on Sophocles' Electra, Hanna M. Roisman gives a clear and close translation of the original Greek. Included in the text are a fresh interpretation of the play and an essay that examines the Afterlife of the play Electra in literature. Extensive notes highlight cultural issues to help readers understand the underlying themes in the story, as well as make comparisons to other, contemporary Greek versions of the myth, giving a well-rounded and comprehensive view of the tale of Electra as a whole.

Euripides Electra

Among the best-known Greek tragedies, Electra tells the story of how the title character and her brother, Orestes, avenge the murder of their father, Agamemnon, by their mother and her lover. H.M. Roisman and C.A.E. Luschnig have developed a new edition of this seminal tragedy designed for twenty-first century classrooms. Included with the Greek text are a useful introduction, line-by-line commentary, and other materials in English, all intended to support intermediate and advanced undergraduate students.

Electra's gripping story and almost contemporary feel help make the play accessible and interesting to modern audiences. The liberties Euripides took with the traditional myth and the playwright's attitudes toward the gods can inspire fruitful classroom discussion about fifth-century Athenian thought, manners, and morals. Roisman and Luschnig invite readers to compare Euripides' treatment of the myth with those of Aeschylus and Sophocles and with variant presentations in epic and lyric poetry, later drama, and modern film. The introduction also places the play in historical context and describes conventions of the Greek theater specific to the work.

Extensive appendices provide a complete metrical analysis of the play, helpful notes on grammar and syntax, an index of verbs, and a Greek-English glossary. In short, the authors have included everything students need to support and enhance their reading of Electra in its original language. VOLUME 38 IN THE OKLAHOMA SERIES IN CLASSICAL CULTURE

The Encyclopedia of Greek Tragedy presents the first comprehensive reference work to cover the many facets of Greek tragic theater that reached its apex in Athens of the fifth century BCE. Contributed by a team of international experts and emerging scholars, entries reflect a careful balance between scholarly precision and accessibility to facilitate a better understanding and appreciation of the great surviving Works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and their contemporaries. Coverage includes all the extant works of the playwrights and plays of the period - including what is known about fragmentary and lost plays and their authors; the theaters in which the plays were staged; the philosophical, cultural, and political contexts in which the plays were performed; as well as their influence on world literature and on the arts, from ancient vase-painting to opera, film and TV. Entries for individual tragedies feature plot summaries, mythical background, and contemporary and ongoing critical discussion as well as their reception and afterlife up to the present day. Other topics include the origins and history of Greek tragedy; their texts, language, style, and rhetoric; as well as recurrent themes such as family, death, hybris, city and country, adultery, emotions, and happy endings. With detailed cross-references to aid navigation, The Encyclopedia of Greek Tragedy represents an invaluable reference to the most important dramatic genre of the ancient Greek World.

The Encyclopedia of Greek Tragedy is available in three print volumes, or in an electronic edition on Wiley Online Library: www.wileyonlinelibrary.com/ref/greektragedy.


The directory information is for individual use only, it may not be retransmitted or published for any reason. It is not to be used for mass solicitations by email, mail, phone, or other means. Sale or other distribution of this document is prohibited by College policy.