Nancy Evans

Professor and Chair of Greek, Latin and Ancient Mediterranean Studies


Phone: 508-286-3661

Fax: 508-286-3640


Ph.D., Brown University
M.Phil., Brown University
A.B., Smith College


Main Interests

  • Religion in Antiquity
  • Greek Literature: Presocratics, Tragedy, Plato
  • Women’s Studies (Ancient and Modern)


Articles on ‘Acropolis’, ‘Erectheum’, “Libation’, ‘Nike’ , ‘Parthenon’, ‘Sacrifice’ and ‘Theseus’ in the Dictionary of Ancient Mediterranean Religions, edited by Eric Orlin, Routeldge Press, 2016.

“Demeter as Focal Point; Eleusis as Mirror.” Paper delivered at the Society for Biblical Literature annual meeting, Atlanta, November 2014.

“Communities in Conversation.” Invited lecture, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, March 2014.

“Evidence for Slaves at the Table in the Ancient Mediterranean: From Traditional Rural Festivals to Urban Associations.”  In Meals in the Greco-Roman World, edited by Dennis Smith.  Palgrave Press, 2012.

“Embedding Rome in Athens.”  In Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult, edited by Jeffrey Brodd and Jonathan L. Reed, pp. 83-98.  Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011.

“Polarizing Rituals and Civil Strife in Athens,” Paper delivered at the Society for Biblical Literature annual meeting, Atlanta, November 2010.

Civic Rites: Democracy and Religion in Ancient Athens. University of California Press, 2010.

“From Mad Ritual to Philosophical Inquiry: Ancient and Modern Fictions of Continuity and Discontinuity.” Religion & Theology 15 (2008) 1-17.

“Diotima as Mystagogue in Plato’s Symposium.” Hypatia, 21.2 (2006) 1-27.

“Feasts, Citizens, and Cultic Democracy in Classical Athens.” Ancient Society 34 (2004), 1-25.

“Sanctuaries, Sacrifices and the Eleusinian Mysteries”, Numen 49.3 (2002) 227-254.

“Did Slaves Ever Recline at Meals?” Paper given at the SBL Meals in the Greco-Roman World Seminar, Boston, November 2008.

“Antigone’s Feast: Women, Food and Civic Festivals in Fifth Century Athens”, lecture delivered at Brown University, December, 2002.

“Promethean links between the origins of animal sacrifice and the end of time,” paper given at the Society for Biblical Literature annual meeting, November 1999, Boston, Massachusetts.

“Immortality Among the Living: The Constructions of Civic Identity in Sophocles’ Antigone”, forthcoming in Social Construction of the Afterlife in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Survey of Literary and Non-literary Data, Scholars Press, edited by Alan F. Segal and Dennis E. Smith.

“Delphi” and “Mystery Religions”, The Encyclopedia of Women and World Religion, Serenity Young, editor; Simon & Schuster, 1998.

“Knowledge from a common experience of paradox: Mystery Religions and ecstatic worship in Greece and Rome”, lecture delivered at Brown University, September, 1998.

“The Afterlife and the construction of civic identity in Sophocles’ Antigone”, paper given at the Brown University Colloquium on Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean, February 1998.

“The Afterlife, Antigone, and the Formation of Civic Identity”, paper given at the Society for Biblical Literature annual meeting, November 1997, San Francisco.

“Another Look at Sacrifice, Women, and the Myth of Prometheus”, paper given at the conference on Religion and Gender in the Ancient Mediterranean, at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, May 1997.

“Worship of Demeter and Sacrifice in the Polis”, paper given at the Society for Biblical Literature annual meeting, November, 1996, New Orleans.

“Hellenism and Civic Identity”, lecture given at the Sepphoris Regional Project, Tzipori, Israel, June 1996.

“Diotima, Eros, Cherubim, and the Sources of Divine Knowledge”, SBL Seminar Papers, vol. 33 (1994).

“Miasma and Greek Mysticism”, paper given at the Society for Biblical Literature annual meeting, November 21, 1993, Washington DC.

Teaching Interests

For Classical Civilization courses my approach focuses on interpreting texts and appropriate archaeological evidence, and then discussing how the Greeks and Romans defined themselves and created their place in the Mediterranean world. I teach courses on the novel in antiquity, comedy and tragedy, epic, Greek history, women in the ancient world, and religions in the Classical world, including Judaism and early Christianity.

Research Interests

My research interests in the ancient world are interdisciplinary, encompassing religion, politics, philosophy, and women’s studies. I have written on the influence of religious language on Plato and the pre-Socratic philosophers, on the history of the sanctuary of Demeter at Eleusis, and on women and myths of the origins of animal sacrifice.  My 2010 monograph, entitled Civic Rites: Democracy and Religion in Ancient Athens, examined the religious origins of the civic institutions of classical Athens, and argued that Athenian citizens supported their democracy when they maintained traditional religious rituals that fostered free speech, public debate, and critiques of current policies.  I have two current research projects.  One project continues to focus on Demeter; the other project on a device called the Antikythera Mechanism is taking me into new territory.