The Children of Athena: The Armed Forces of Democratic Athens.

Fellowship : October 2022 to june 2023

Discipline(s) : Ancient history

Pays : Australia


David Pritchard’s residency seminar will take place on Monday, January 16, 2023:

‘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.

Suggestions of the week:


Kameradschaft (English: Comradeship, known in France as La Tragédie de la mine) is a 1931 dramatic film directed by Austrian director G. W. Pabst. The French-German co-production drama is noted for combining expressionism and realism.

The film concerns a mine disaster where German miners rescue French miners from an underground fire and explosion. The story takes place in the Lorraine–Saar regions, along the border between France and Germany. It is based on one of the worst industrial accidents in history, the Courrières mine disaster in 1906 in Courrières, France, where rescue efforts after a coal dust explosion were hampered by the lack of trained mine rescuers. Expert teams from Paris and miners from the Westphalia region of Germany came to the assistance of the French miners. There were 1,099 fatalities, including children.

Kameradschaft in German means a bond between soldiers or those who have similar opinions and are in friendship. The word is similar to comradeship, camaraderie or fellowship.

Book: Dora Bruder, Patrick Modino - éditions Gallimard

Dora Bruder is a biographical and autobiographical story by Patrick Modiano published on April 2, 1997 by Gallimard. The text is presented as an investigation, with strong personal involvement of the author, to try to reconstruct the life of a Parisian girl of Jewish faith, Dora Bruder, who disappeared in Paris one day in 1941.


Image :

 “British soldiers Sergeant R. Gregory and Driver A. Hardman on the Erechtheum during a tour of the Acropolis in Athens, October 1944. Photo by Captain A. R. Tanner. Imperial War Museum (London), neg. no. TR 2512.” 

Research project: The Children of Athena: The Armed Forces of Democratic Athens.

Ancient Athens developed democracy to a higher level than any other state before modern times. It was the leading cultural innovator of the classical period. It is famous for these political and cultural successes. Much less well known is the other side of this success story. This ancient Greek state transformed warfare and became a superpower. It was responsible for raising the scale of Greek wars by ten times. The armed forces of this ancient democracy were simply unmatched in size and professionalism. In spite of this striking military success, there is no book-length study of how the classical Athenians waged their almost nonstop wars. In 431 BC, their famous political leader, Pericles, spoke about the numbers in each branch of their armed forces. This IAS-Nantes project fills this significant gap in the Athenian story by going behind Pericles’s famous numbers. It studies the history of each of the corps that Pericles mentioned as well as the legal and social background of its members. The project considers how they were recruited and what they thought about their soldiering. It reveals for the first time the common practices that the classical Athenians employed to manage their armed forces.


David M. Pritchard is Associate Professor of Greek History and Discipline-Convenor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland (Australia). He has obtained 14 fellowships in Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In 2019-20 Associate Professor Pritchard was Research Fellow in l’Institut d’études avancées de l’université de Lyon. He has published 3 sole-authored books, 2 edited books, and 65 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Cambridge University Press is the publisher of 3 of his 5 books. Associate Professor Pritchard has an h-index of 18 and more than 1200 known citations. In recognition of his research, he has obtained the equivalent of 1.2 million euros or 1.8 million Australian dollars in research funding. Associate Professor Pritchard speaks on the radio and regularly writes for newspapers around the world. His 38 op-eds have appeared in, among other outlets, Le Monde (France), Le Figaro (France), Die Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Kathimerini (Greece), Scroll.in (India), The Age (Australia), The Australian and Politike (Brazil). Associate Professor Pritchard obtained his PhD in Ancient History from Macquarie University (Australia) in 2000. 


  • David M. Pritchard 2019, Athenian Democracy at War, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press).
  • David M. Pritchard 2015, Public Spending and Democracy in Classical Athens, Austin (University of Texas Press).
  • David M. Pritchard 2013, Sport, Democracy and War in Classical Athens, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press).
  • David M. Pritchard (ed.) 2010, War, Democracy and Culture in Classical Athens, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press).
  • David M. Pritchard and David J. Phillips (eds.) 2003, Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World, Swansea (Classical Press of Wales).