War minus the shooting: sport and democracy in classical Athens

Pritchard, David M. (2008) War minus the shooting: sport and democracy in classical Athens. St Lucia, QLD, Australia, UQ Cultural History Project.

Attached Files (Some files may be inaccessible until you login with your UQ eSpace credentials)
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
PRITCHARD_FLYER_UQ_CHP_21_8.pdf PDF file of the handout for the seminar application/pdf 167.06KB 0
PRITCHARD_UQ_CHP_Seminar_21_8.pdf PDF file of the text of the seminar application/pdf 342.18KB 0
Pritchard-edited.mp3 Stream this item to your browser MP3 audio recording of the seminar audio/mpeg 49.72MB 0
UQ_CHP_seminar_PRITCHARD_21.8.08.pdf PDF file of the invitation flyer for the seminar application/pdf 229.02KB 0
Author Pritchard, David M.
Title War minus the shooting: sport and democracy in classical Athens
Place of publication St Lucia, QLD, Australia
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Publisher UQ Cultural History Project
Publication date 2008-08-21
Series Seminars and Public Lectures
Total pages 1 MP3 recording
Language eng
Subject 210306 Classical Greek and Roman History
Abstract/Summary The dēmos of classical Athens authorized the spending of public money on sport, discouraged attacks on sportsmen by the poets of Old Comedy, and awarded sporting victors lavishly. Such public support and high estimation occurred in spite of athletics remaining an exclusive pastime of the wealthy under the democracy. Sport of course was not the only preserve of elite Athenians. But in contrast to their other pursuits, such as the mannered drinking-party, pederasty, horsemanship and political leadership, it escaped the otherwise persistent criticism of exclusively upper-class activities in Athenian popular culture. The major reason for its exceptional treatment – and one which scholars have not explored fully – is the close relationship between athletics and the new democratic style of warfare that classical Athens developed and waged. Classical Athenians conceived of athletic contests and battles in identical terms: they were agōnes involving ponoi, with victory in both depending on the aretē of the competitors. Although Athenian warfare, in the sixth century, was a predominantly elite activity, in the next it was subject to a profound democratization practically and ideologically. With the creation of a city-based army of hoplites and a huge navy and the introduction of military pay, soldiering – like politics – was opened to every class of Athenian. Under the democracy the power non-elite citizens had to shape the city’s culture ensured that every hoplite or sailor was now recognized for his aretē and ponoi in battle and considered equally responsible for victory. As a result lower-class citizens came to believe that upper-class athletes exhibited the same moral qualities and experienced the same ordeals as they did when fighting battles. This non-elite affinity with the values of sport ruled out public criticism of athletes and underwrote the exceptionally high standing of athletics under the democracy. Thus the democratic style of warfare in classical Athens legitimized and supported elite sport.
Keyword Sport
Ancient history
Sports history
Cultural history
Cultural pattern model
Ancient Olympic Games
UQ Cultural History Project
Additional Notes Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) License of the Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/)

Document type: Creative Work
Collection: UQ Cultural History Project
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 02 Sep 2008, 18:35:25 EST by Dr David Pritchard on behalf of Faculty of Arts