Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Sport, Democracy and War in Classical Athens


  • Date Published: June 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316610305

£ 21.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Explores the important but neglected question of the high standing of elite sport in democratic Athens
    • Puts the sporting contests of democratic Athens and its waging of war into their cultural and social contexts
    • Sheds new light on the relationship of sport and violence in world history
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    '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

    'Pritchard's monograph is a significant achievement. For those interested in any or all of its three components - sport, democracy and war - it is recommended reading. For those interested in Athenian culture, however, it should be considered absolutely essential.' Jason Crowley, The Journal of Hellenic Studies

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316610305
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • 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.

  • Author

    David M. Pritchard, University of Queensland
    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, Sydney, 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, 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.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.