The Children of Athena: The Armed Forces of Democratic Athens

General public Lecture

Avec le soutien du SEFRI à la collaboration entre l’Université de Fribourg et l’Institut d’études avancées de Nantes
Département fédéral de l’économie, de la formation et de la recherche DEFR / Secrétariat d’Etat à la formation, à la recherche et à l’innovation SEFRI

Associate Professor David M. Pritchard (Australia/France)

The Children of Athens: The Armed Forces of Democratic Athens


On the eve of the Peloponnesian War, Pericles famously advised the Athenians how they could win. This political leader re-assured assemblygoers that they already had the required funds and armed forces for victory. The first corps that Pericles mentioned was the 13,000 hoplites. The next 2 were the 1200-strong cavalry and the 1600 archers. The last military branch of which he spoke was the navy of 300 triremes. This paper’s primary aim is to go behind Pericles’s famous numbers. For each corps that he mentioned, it studies the legal status of corps-members and their social background. The paper explores how they were recruited into their corps and subsequently mobilised for campaigns. It establishes each corps’s history and specific organisation. By treating these four military branches together for the first time, this paper reveals the common practices that the dēmos (‘people’) used to manage their armed forces. It concludes by detailing the common assumptions that they brought to this management.

Biographical Note

David M. Pritchard is Associate Professor of Greek History at the University of Queensland (Australia) where he has chaired the Department of Classics and Ancient History. He has obtained research fellowships in Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In 2022-3, he is a research fellow in the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study (France). He is the author of Athenian Democracy at War (Cambridge University Press 2019), Sport, Democracy and War in Classical Athens (Cambridge University Press 2013) and Public Spending and Democracy in Classical Athens (University of Texas Press 2015). Associate Professor Pritchard has edited The Athenian Funeral Oration: After Nicole Loraux (Cambridge University Press 2023) and War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens (Cambridge University Press 2010), and co-edited Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World (Classical Press of Wales 2003). He has also published 65 journal articles and book chapters. Associate Professor Pritchard has an h-index of 19 and more than 1300 known citations. He speaks on the radio and regularly writes for newspapers around the world. His 41 op.-eds have appeared in, among other outlets, Die Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Le Monde (France), Le Figaro (France), Ouest-France, The Conversation (France), Kathimerini (Greece), (India), The Age (Australia), The Australian and Politike (Brazil). Associate Professor Pritchard obtained his PhD in Ancient History from Macquarie University (Australia) in 2000.

When? 18.04.2023 17:15
Where? MIS 03 3023
Avenue de l'Europe 20
1700 Fribourg
speaker Prof. David M. Pritchard (Institut d’études avancées de Nantes / The University of Queensland)
Contact Institut du monde antique et byzantin
Prof. Karin Schlapbach, directrice