WILLIAM HANSEN grew up in California and studied classics and folklore at the University of California, Berkeley, working under mythologist Joseph Fontenrose and folklorist Alan Dundes. After earning a doctorate in classics he taught at Indiana University, Bloomington, with appointments in the Department of Classical Studies and in the Folklore Institute (later the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology). At Indiana he co-founded the Program in Mythology Studies, which he co-directed until his retirement.
His publications focus on ancient and medieval oral narrative (epic, myth, legend, folktale) and on ancient popular literature. His books include Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans (Oxford 2005), Ariadne’s Thread: A Guide to International Tales Found in Classical Literature (Cornell 2002), Anthology of Ancient Greek Popular Literature (Indiana 1998), Phlegon of Tralles’ Book of Marvels (University of Exeter 1996), and Saxo Grammaticus and the Life of Hamlet (University of Nebraska 1983). He is currently professor emeritus of classical studies and folklore at Indiana University, Bloomington.