Sport, Democracy and War in Classical Athens

Sport, Democracy and War in Classical Athens

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Athenian democracy may have opened up politics to every citizen, but it had no impact on participation in sport. The city's sportsmen continued to be drawn from the elite, and so it comes as a surprise that sport was very popular with non-elite citizens of the classical period, who rewarded victorious sportsmen lavishly and created an unrivalled program of local sporting festivals on which they spent staggering sums of money. They also shielded sportsmen from the public criticism which was otherwise normally directed towards the elite and its conspicuous activities. This book is a bold and novel exploration of this apparent contradiction, which examines three of the fundamental aspects of Athens in the classical period - democratic politics, public commitment to sport and constant warfare - and is essential reading for all of those who are interested in Greek sport, Athenian democracy and its waging of war.
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Product details

  • Online resource
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 10 b/w illus.
  • 1139030515
  • 9781139030519

Review quote

'This is a vigorous and valuable book, supported by a thorough familiarity with the ancient evidence and with modern scholarship. It is also timely, as our democracies (surely the most sports-mad societies since the Greeks) return to the use of war as an instrument of policy.' Mark Golden, University of Winnipeg 'Dr Pritchard's book is the first book-length study of athletics in classical Athens since 1987 and the first of its kind ever: a penetrating inquiry into the position occupied in Athenian life and popular thinking by athletics. It will put the study of this subject on an entirely new footing.' Thomas Heine Nielsen, SAXO Institute, Copenhagen 'Revealing interrelationships among three major and still topical themes in the history of the most famous and best-attested Greek city-state, Dr Pritchard's thorough and detailed work argues that sport, democracy, and war shared positive notions of effort, value, and virtue, notions that spanned the classes of citizens and assisted social cohesion ... [Pritchard] suggests that, paradoxically, there was democratic support by common Athenians - including sailors in Athens' expanded navy - for what are often seen as elitist athletic activities. He shows how sport and war came to be seen as positively symbiotic in democratic Athens ... With fresh interpretations of Athenian satyr plays, popular culture, and military and festival expenditures, this major study will certainly stimulate lively discussion about ancient sport, democracy, and war.' Donald G. Kyle, University of Texas, Arlington and author of Athletics in Ancient Athens and Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World
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Table of contents

1. Problems, models and sources; 2. Athletic participation and education; 3. The democratic support of athletics; 4. Athletics in satyric drama; 5. The common culture of athletics and war; 6. The democratisation of war; 7. Conclusion: athletic ephebes.
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About David M. Pritchard

Dr David M. Pritchard is Senior Lecturer in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland. He has held research fellowships at Macquarie University, the University of Copenhagen and the University of Sydney. In 2013 Dr Pritchard was the Charles Gordon Mackay Lecturer in Greek at the University of Edinburgh. He has edited War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and co-edited Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World (2003). He is currently finishing a monograph on public spending in democratic Athens.
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