My self-published booklet on the scandals of 415 B.C. is now available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon. The Mutilation of the Herms is suitable for assignment in undergraduate classics and history classes. If you'd like to request an examination copy, please fill out the form below.

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In 415 B.C. the Athenians woke to find that during the night most of the herms in Athens (priapic statues of the Greek god Hermes) had been vandalized. The damage was too widespread for the act to be dismissed as a youthful prank. What was it, then: a conspiracy brewing against the democracy? Or merely a bad omen for their upcoming expedition to Sicily?

The so-called "mutilation of the herms" is an important episode in Athenian history. Nearly 2500 years later, basic questions about the crime continue to exercise scholars—who done it and why they done it. In "The Mutilation of the Herms: Unpacking an Ancient Mystery," Debra Hamel provides a comprehensible account of the vandalism and its aftermath.

This roughly 50-page work is written for an audience of general readers and students. No previous knowledge of the period is assumed. The text could profitably be assigned for undergraduate classes in Greek history. Topics discussed include the Eleusinian Mysteries, the role of drinking groups in the vandalism, Alcibiades' involvement in the affair, and Eva Keuls' feminist take on the episode. (ARTICLE: 13,000 WORDS.)

Pinterest board for The Mutilation of the Herms:


A "useful short listing and analysis of the sources for this notorious episode...."
      -- Peter Green, London Review of Books [full review]

"In short, Hamel's book is an accessible starting point for anyone interested in this particular event or for those who are curious about the practices of Classical scholarship. Hamel's core assessment that the mutilation of the herms is 'a humbling reminder that however carefully and cleverly we piece together fragments of the information our sources have preserved, we'll never be able to fully reconstruct what happened that night' (29) is an important lesson that extends beyond this particular topic."
      -- Carolyn Swan, Bryn Mawr Classical Review [full review]

"Intelligent history written with the assumption that the reader is intelligent but not an expert."
      -- annesadleir on LibraryThing

"This is an ingenious, readable, persuasive and succint interpretation of a curious episode in the history of Athens during its golden age."
      -- Chris Andrew on

"This is a very readable, accessible summary of the facts and analysis of why it was important, written in plain English throughout with complete references to back up each assertion and a really good bibliography. Recommended for anyone tackling the subject for the first time or who just wants a ready reference to the sources."
      -- K. Fearon on

Examination Copy Requests

I am happy to provide electronic (Kindle format*) examination copies to instructors in the US and UK who are considering using The Mutilation of the Herms (either paperback or Kindle versions) for a course. Please fill out the form below. You will receive a gift notification by email from with instructions on how to download the ebook.

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