Kathy L. Gaca
Associate Professor of Classical and Mediterranean Studies
Research Area Interests
Major research interests in Greek and Roman philosophy, mainly Platonic, Stoic, Pythagorean, and Peripatetic ethics; Greek, Roman, and biblical history and social values; socially normative ideas in the Greek biblical traditions (Septuagint and New Testament); Philonic and patristic ethics; all of which are related to my main driving interest in historically grounded ethics, that is, concerns of social injustice rooted in antiquity that remain problematic in the present day and need a clearer philosophical and historical understanding. This includes my current book research on the sexual trajectory of ravaging warfare against women and girls, which is rooted in antiquity, was recognized as problematic by the Peripatetics and Peripatetic-influenced historians and biographers, and remains a modern-day problem. Philology and comparative historical linguistics are among my research tools for approaching ethics historically.
Teaching interests in all of the above, as well as teaching and secondary research interests in Presocratic philosophy; Greek tragedy; Greek and Roman myth, epic, and lyric; women in antiquity; and material culture.
Women, war, and emergent humanitarian concerns in antiquity and the modern day.
Current and Recent Appointments
Vanderbilt University, Associate Professor of Classics
Princeton University, Hannah Seeger Davis Post-doctoral Fellow in Hellenic Studies, 1996-97
Greco-Roman History, Social Values and Ethics, Greek Biblical Studies, Women in Antiquity
- The Making of Fornication: Eros, Ethics, and Political Reform in Greek Philosophy and Early Christianity. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univeristy of California Press, Hellenistic Culture and Society Series. For further information click here, and see The Times Literary Supplement review by Kate Cooper, 5 November 2004, page 14.
Edited essay collection
- Early Patristic Readings of Romans, edited by Kathy L. Gaca and L. L. Welborn. Romans through History and Cultures Series. New York: T & T Clark International, 2006.
Book in progress and near completion
- Rape and Enslave or Kill: Men, Women, and the Religion of Sexual Warfare and Colonialism from Antiquity to Modernity
Journal articles and invited refereed book chapters:
- “Plato and Aristotle on Social Justice and its Basis in Heterosexual Copulation, Procreation, and Upbringing,” in Bios and Polis: Biopolitics in Classical Antiquity, edited by Jussi Backman and Antonio Cimino. New York: Oxford University Press, 2022.
- “Procreative Genocide, Conquest, and Subservience,” in A Cultural History of Genocide in the Ancient World, edited by Tristan S. Taylor. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.
- “Minding the Mistress of the House: The Freeborn Marriage Struggle to Control Female Slave Sexuality and Men’s War-Driven Sexual Desires,” in Slavery and Sexuality in Classical Antiquity, edited by Deborah Kamen and Christopher Marshall. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2021.
- “The Martial Rape of Girls and Women in Antiquity and Modernity,” in The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Conflict, edited by Fionnuala Ni Aolain, Naomi Cahn, Dina Haynes, and Nahla Valji, 305-315. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.
- “Ancient Warfare Beyond the Battle: Populace Ravaging and Heterosexual Rape,” in Civilians and Warfare, edited by Nadya Williams and Nicola Foote, 42-66. New York: Routledge, 2018.
- “Martial Religion, Ravaging Warfare, and Rape: Polytheistic Greek and Monotheistic Israelite Views,” in Feminism and Religion, edited by Michelle Paludi and J. Harold Ellens, 173-204. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
- “Continuities in Rape and Tyranny in Martial Societies from Antiquity Onward,” in Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World, edited by Stephanie Budin, 1041-56. New York: Routledge, 2016.
- “Ancient Warfare and the Ravaging Martial Rape of Girls and Women” in Sex in Antiquity: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World, edited by Mark Masterson, Nancy S Rabinowitz, and James Robson, 278-97. New York: Routledge 2015.
- “Martial Rape, Pulsating Fear, and the Overt Sexualizing of Girls (paides), Virgins (parthenoi), and Women (gunaikes) in Antiquity,” American Journal of Philology 135 (2014), 303-357.
- “Early Christian Sexuality” in A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities, edited by Thomas K. Hubbard, 549-64. New York: Wiley-Blackwell 2013.
- “Telling the Girls from the Boys and Children: Interpreting paides in the Sexual Violence of Populace-Ravaging Ancient Warfare,” Illinois Classical Studies 35-36 (2010-2011, published 2012), 85-109
- “Manhandled and Kicked Around: Reinterpreting the Etymology and Symbolism of andrapoda,” Indogermanische Forschungen 116 (2011, published 2012), 110-46.
- “Girls, Women and the Significance of Sexual Violence in Ancient Warfare,” Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, edited by Elizabeth D. Heineman. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 73-88. Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights.
- “The Andrapodizing of War Captives in Greek Historical Memory,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 140 (2010), 117-61.
- “The Pentateuch or Plato: Two Competing Paradigms of Christian Sexual Morality in the Second Century CE,” in A Feminist Companion to Patristic Literature, edited by Amy-Jill Levine with Maria Mayo Robbins, 125-137. London and New York: T & T Clark, Spring 2008.
- “Reinterpreting the Homeric Simile of Iliad 16.7-11: The Girl and Her Mother in Ancient Greek Warfare,” American Journal of Philology 129 (2008), 145-171.
- “Early Christian Antipathy toward the Greek ‘Women Gods’,” in Looking for Persephone: Women’s Ancient Greek Rituals in Context, edited by Maryline Parca and Angeliki Tzanetou, 277-289. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2007.
- Gale/Cengage 2009 reprint of “Philo’s Reproductive City of God” (from The Making of Fornication: Eros, Ethics, and Political Reform in Greek Philosophy and Early Christianity (Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press, 2003, pp. 191-217), Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism.
- “Driving Aphrodite from the World: Tatian’s Encratite Principles of Sexual Renunciation,” Journal of Theological Studies 53 (2002), 1-25.
- “Procreationism: The Reproductive Technology of the Pythagoreans,” Classical Philology 95 (April 2000), 113-132.
- “Early Stoic Eros: The Sexual Ethics of Zeno and Chrysippus and their Evaluation of the Popular Greek Erotic Tradition,” Apeiron 33 (September 2000), 207-238.
- “The Sexual and Social Dangers of Pornai in the Septuagint Greek Stratum of Patristic Greek Thought,” Desire and Denial in Byzantium, ed. Elizabeth James, 35-40. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 1999.
- “Paul’s Uncommon Declaration in Romans 1:18-32 and its Problematic Legacy for Pagan and Christian Relations,” Harvard Theological Review 92 (April 1999), 165-198.
- “Philo’s Principles of Sexual Conduct and their Influence on Christian Platonist Sexual Principles,” Studia Philonica Annual (1996), 21-39.
Select Awards and Grants
- Robert Penn Warren Fellowship: “Working for Social Justice and Equality,” 2016-2017.
- Vanderbilt Research Grant (Faculty Leave and Research Grant) 2010-2011.
- SBL Full Panel Retrospective Review Session honoring my book The Making of Fornication: Eros, Ethics, and Political Reform in Greek Philosophy and Early Christianity, November 2010.
- CAMWS Outstanding Publication Award, 2006 for The Making of Fornication: Eros, Ethics, and Political Reform in Greek Philosophy and Early Christianity (2003)
- NEH Summer Seminar Grant Recipient and Participant in ‘The Law, State, and Individual in Ancient Greece, Rome, and China,’ at the University of California, Berkeley, summer 2003
- Center for Hellenic Studies Summer Fellowship, Washington DC, July 2002
- Robert Penn Warren Fellowship, 1999-2000
- Princeton Hannah Seeger Davis Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 1996-97 NEH Summer Institute Grant Recipient and Participant, in ‘New Perspectives on Classical Antiquity’
- University of Toronto Connaught Fellowships
- University of Illinois Excellence in Teaching Award
Select Invited Lectures
- “Ravaging Warfare and Martial Rape from Antiquity to Modernity,” International French CNRS-sponsored PARABAINÔ Conference (Massacres, extreme violence, and wrongdoing in times of war (in Greco-Roman Antiquity and the Present Day / Masscres, violences extrèmes et transgression en temps de guerre (Antiquité gréco-romaine et Temps presents) at the Université de Reims in Reims, France, June 2023.
- “Truth be Told in Classical Historiography,” Rhetoric and Historiography: New Perspectives Conference, sponsored by the University of North Carolina and Notre Dame’s Rome Global Gateway in Rome, Italy, May 2023.
- “The Debated Value of Cathartic History among Greek Historians, Philosophers, and Orators,” NEH Lecture Series, University of West Georgia, Carollton, Georgia. February 2021.
- “A War God-Devoted Duty: Ravaging Rape in Antiquity," Department of Greek and Roman Classics and the College of Liberal Arts, Temple University. October 2020.
- “Do You Want to Live or Die? Ravaging Warfare and Martial Rape in and since Antiquity,” Langford Classical Lecture Series, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, October 2019.
- “Roman Marriage and Christian Brotherhood,” an invited response paper to “1 Corinthians 7: Becoming One Flesh and the Politics of Procreation” by Judith Gundry, Yale University. Society for New Testament Studies, Montreal, Québec, Canada, August 2017.
- “The Martial License for Massacre and Torture in Ancient Mediterranean Warfare,” International Conference on Ancient Warfare, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom, June 2017.
- “Martial Religion, Rape, and its Polytheistic Roots in the Ancient Mediterranean,” University of Texas at Austin, sponsored by the Classics Department, April 2016.
- “The Paradox of College Rape Culture from an Ancient Mediterranean Perspective,” University of Texas at Austin as part of the conference on “Rape: Theorizing Consent,” April 2016.
- From Sex Goddess to Naked Prostitute: Aphrodite in Early Christianity, University of Memphis, April 2013.
- Invited Keynote Speaker for Feminism and Classics VI, Brock University (Ontario, Canada), May 2012.
- "Sexual Warfare Against Girls and Women in Classical Antiquity," Invited Lecture at UCLA, sponsored by the Classics Department, March 2011.
- SBL Full Panel Review of my The Making of Fornication: Eros, Ethics, and Political Reform in Greek Philosophy and Early Christianity, November 2010.
- "Gods and Plundered Bodies: The Sexual Enslavement of War Captives in Antiquity and its Ambivalent Religious Significance," Invited Lecture at Stanford University, sponsored by the Classics and Religion Departments, March 2010.
- "Mass Rape, its Modes of Warfare, and Ethnic Diversity by the Spear in Ancient Greece," Invited Lecture as part of a diachronic Symposium on Immigrants and Refugees in Greece and Southeast Europe at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, sponsored by the Modern Greek Studies Program and Classics Department, March 2010.
- "The Law of the Conqueror in Antiquity," Invited Lecture at Louisiana State University, sponsored by the Classics Program, March 2010.
- "From Aphrodite to Antichrist: Greek Goddesses and their Demolition in Early Christianity," Invited Lecture for The Sacred Feminine Exhibit at the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri, Columbia, October 2009.
- "Warfare and Sexual Enslavement in Antiquity and the Modern Day," Invited Lecture at the Nashville Public Library, as part of the Page and Stage Production of Aquila Theatre, May 2009.
- "Women and Girls as Targets of Ancient Warfare," Invited Lecture for the Nashville Parthenon and the American Institute of Archaeology, Nashville, January 2008.
- "Warfare Beyond the Battle in Greek Historiography," Invited Lecture for a Colloquium Honoring the Retirement of Professor Timothy D. Barnes, University of Toronto, Trinity College, December 2007.
- "Girls, Women, and the Sexual Norms of Warfare from Antiquity to the Modern Day," The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights Conference on The History of Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, Iowa City, Iowa, April 2006.
- "Greek Goddesses and Fornication: The Emergence of Early Christian Sexual Morality," Wilson Lecture, Hamilton College, New York, February 2005
- "Eros and Fornication in Ancient Greek Society," Invited Lecture for the Nashville Parthenon and American Institute of Archaeology Community of Nashville, Nashville Parthenon, September 2003
- Panel discussion review of my article ‘Paul’s Uncommon Declaration in Romans 1:18-32 and its Problematic Legacy for Pagan and Christian Relations,’ Harvard Theological Review 92 (April 1999), 165-198, American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature, November 2000