How do democracy and war affect each other? The case study of ancient Athens

Pritchard, David M. (2007) How do democracy and war affect each other? The case study of ancient Athens. Polis, 24 2: 328-352.

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Author Pritchard, David M.
Title How do democracy and war affect each other? The case study of ancient Athens
Journal name Polis   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0142-257X
Publication date 2007
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 24
Issue 2
Start page 328
End page 352
Total pages 25
Editor Kyriakos N. Demetriou
Place of publication Exeter, U.K.
Publisher Imprint Academic
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Subject 430110 History - Classical Greek and Roman
2103 Historical Studies
Abstract This article considers the state of research on the two-way relationship of causation between politics and war in ancient Athens from the attempted coup of Cylon in 632 BC to the violent overthrow of its democracy by the Macedonians in 322. Also canvassed is how a closer integration of Ancient History and Political Science can enhance the research of each discipline into the important problem of democracy’s effect on war-making. Classical Athens is well known for its full development of popular politics and its cultural revolution, which clearly was a dependent variable of the democracy. By contrast, few are aware of its contemporaneous military revolution, which saw the classical Athenians intensify the waging of war and gain an unrivalled record of military success and innovation. Although a prima facie case exists for these military changes being due to popular government, ancient historians have conducted very little research on the impact of democracy on war. In the last decade our discipline has also witnessed the collapse of the longstanding understanding of the affect of military changes on political developments in ancient Greece, which means we can no longer explain why Athenian democracy emerged and was consolidated during the classical period. For the sake of ameliorating this situation the article proposes new directions and a social-science approach for research into the military and non-military causes of Athenian democratisation and the relative effect of Athenian democracy on warfare. At a time when established democracies face complex challenges of foreign policy such research into the case study of ancient Athens is of real contemporary relevancy.
Keyword UQ Cultural History Project
Classical Athens
Military determinism
Ancient history
Democracy at war
Q-Index Code C1
Additional Notes This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of the revised version of an article which has been accepted for publication by Polis following peer review. For information on the publisher authenticated version please go to: Your use of this item is governed by the Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) License of the Creative Commons ( You are free to copy, distribute and transmit the work under the following conditions. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). You may not use this work for commercial purposes. You may not alter, transform or build upon this work. For any reuse or distribution you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page. Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder. Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author's moral rights.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Cultural History Project
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Created: Wed, 19 Nov 2008, 19:35:23 EST by Dr David Pritchard on behalf of Faculty of Arts