Paula Debnar

  • Professor of Classics on the Alumnae Foundation
Paula Debnar

Paula Debnar is the Professor of Classics on the Alumnae Foundation. Her first book, Speaking the Same Language: Speech and Audience in Thucydides’ Spartan Debates (2001), focuses on political speeches in the History of the Peloponnesian War, with special attention paid to the role of rhetoric in creating a sense of ethnic identity. She has also contributed chapters to collections of essays on Thucydides, such as The Greek Superpower: Sparta in the Self-definitions of Athenians (2018) and Thucydides and Sparta (2021), a volume she co-edited. In 2023 Debnar co-organized the International Sparta Seminar in Coimbra, Portugal, to which she also contributed a paper.

Two of Professor Debnar’s courses led to articles on topics other than Greek rhetoric and historiography, her main areas of scholarly interest, one on Cassandra in Aeschylus’ Oresteia (2010) and another on the Roman poet Lucretius (2021). Debnar’s pedagogical publications include a student commentary on Thucydides’ Melian Dialogue (2013) and an expanded and revised edition of Pharr’s textbook Homeric Greek, for which she and colleagues at Smith College created the Homeric Greek Resources website (2018).

In addition to teaching Greek and Latin language and literature, Debnar has offered a variety of courses on the ancient Mediterranean taught in English, including “Sicily: Crossroads of the Mediterranean,” co-taught with Professor Frau on the Italian side of the department, “Gods and Mortals: Myth in Ancient Art and Literature,” and “Athenian Democracy and Its Foes.” In 2021 she received one of the College’s annual teaching awards.

Areas of Expertise

Greek rhetoric, history and historiography; ancient ethnicity; Greek tragedy


  • Ph.D., Yale University
  • A.B., Colby College

Happening at Mount Holyoke

Recent Campus News

The recipients of the coveted Mount Holyoke College Faculty Awards were celebrated at a Zoom ceremony replete with warmth and kindness.

Recent Publications

A. Powell, & P. Debnar (Eds.). (2021). Thucydides and Sparta. The Classical Press of Wales.

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