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Look Inside War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens

War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens


David M. Pritchard, Josiah Ober, Ryan K. Balot, Iain Spence, Matthew Trundle, Sophie Mills, David Konstan, Alastair J. L. Blanshard, Peter Hunt, Robin Osborne, Patricia Hannah, Margaret C. Miller, Polly Low, Sumio Yoshitake, John Keane
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  • Date Published: August 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107437388

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About the Authors
  • Athens is famous for its direct democracy and its innovative culture. Not widely known is its contemporaneous military revolution. Athens invented or perfected new forms of combat, strategy and military organization and was directly responsible for raising the scale of Greek warfare to a different order of magnitude. The timing of this revolution is striking: it followed directly the popular uprising of 508 BC and coincided with the flowering of Athenian culture, which was largely brought about by democracy. This raises the intriguing possibility that popular government was one of the major causes of Athenian military success. Ancient writers may have thought as much, but the traditional assumptions of ancient historians and political scientists have meant that the impact of democracy on war has received almost no scholarly attention. This volume brings together ancient historians, archaeologists, classicists and political scientists to explore this important but neglected problem from multiple perspectives.

    • Investigates the important but neglected problem of the impact of democracy on war-making and foreign policy
    • Exemplifies the 'new' military history which recognizes war-making as an activity which is embedded in society, politics and culture
    • Brings together some of the world's leading ancient historians, archaeologists, classicists and political scientists to investigate this important problem
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This fascinating book takes a huge forward step in documenting and analyzing the Athenian experience as a democratic empire. The historians and political scientists in this volume show how democracy made Athens more effective in war fighting, and how the spoils of war supported democratic rule. In so doing they challenge all of us to reconsider key assumptions about whether democracy and hegemony are compatible in the contemporary world.' Bruce Russett, Dean Acheson Professor of International Relations, Yale University

    'Death and glory, democratic Athenian-style - in this top-rank collection the enterprising editor has assembled an impressive international team to re-evaluate the reciprocal interactions of warmaking and political decision-making in the world's first functioning democracy, paying special attention to significantly changing practices and attitudes. Present-minded in the best sense, War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens also treats the Athenians' democracy of the fifth and fourth centuries BC as a test-case for the examination of theses about democracy's impact on war and vice versa that are currently subject to hot debate among political scientists and policymakers. Ancient historians and comparative social scientists alike cannot fail to benefit from this richly illustrated book's many new insights.' Paul Cartledge, A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture, Cambridge University

    'We used to think that democracies were, in their nature, more pacific than other states. Now many claim - on the basis of recent experience - that democracies are by nature more warlike. In this compelling volume scholars of the first distinction pose this question about ancient Athens: and their answers cannot fail to be of interest to students both of the ancient world and of the contemporary.' J. E. Lendon, Professor of History, University of Virginia

    'This collection offers an up-to-date survey that offers plenty of interesting observations and some important insights.' Matthew R. Christ, The Classical Review

    '[The book] expertly explores the impact of democracy on Athenian foreign policy and her military achievements from a wide variety of perspectives and by using a wide variety of different types of evidence, and since it maintains its overarching aim throughout, unlike many other conference collections, War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens is not just more than the sum of its parts, it is also an extremely worthy contribution to an utterly fascinating subject.' Jason Crowley, Hermathena

    'All of those who believe that Athens can offer a looking glass for democratic reflections owe the editor and every one of his colleagues tremendous gratitude.' Gerald Mara, Polis

    '… A well-organized collection of expert studies, on an important theme, which provide much food for thought and stimulus for further work.' P. J. Rhodes, The Journal of Hellenic Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107437388
    • length: 480 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.76kg
    • contains: 34 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The symbiosis between democracy and war: the case of ancient Athens David M. Pritchard
    Part I. The Impact of Democracy on War:
    2. Thucydides on Athens' democratic advantage in the Archidamian War Josiah Ober
    3. Democratizing courage in Classical Athens Ryan K. Balot
    Part II. Military Innovations of the Democracy:
    4. Cavalry, democracy and military thinking in Classical Athens Iain Spence
    5. Light troops in Classical Athens Matthew Trundle
    Part III. The Fifth-Century Drama of War:
    6. Affirming Athenian action: Euripides' portrayal of military activity and the limits of tragic instruction Sophie Mills
    7. Ridiculing a popular war: Old Comedy and militarism in Classical Athens David Konstan
    Part IV. War in Fourth-Century Speeches:
    8. War in the law-court: some Athenian discussions Alastair J. L. Blanshard
    9. Athenian militarism and the recourse to war Peter Hunt
    Part V. Soldiers in Privately Purchased Art:
    10. Democratic ideology, the events of war and the iconography of Attic funerary sculpture Robin Osborne
    11. The warrior loutrophoroi of fifth-century Athens Patricia Hannah
    12. 'I am Eurymedon': tensions and ambiguities in Athenian war imagery Margaret C. Miller
    Part VI. Honouring the War Dead:
    13. Commemoration of the war dead in Classical Athens: remembering defeat and victory Polly Low
    14. Aretē and the achievements of the war dead: the logic of praise in the Athenian funeral oration Sumio Yoshitake
    15. Epilogue: does democracy have a violent heart? John Keane.

  • Editor

    David M. Pritchard, University of Queensland
    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 authored Sport, Democracy and War in Classical Athens (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and co-edited Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World (2003). He is currently finishing a monograph on public spending in democratic Athens.


    David M. Pritchard, Josiah Ober, Ryan K. Balot, Iain Spence, Matthew Trundle, Sophie Mills, David Konstan, Alastair J. L. Blanshard, Peter Hunt, Robin Osborne, Patricia Hannah, Margaret C. Miller, Polly Low, Sumio Yoshitake, John Keane

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