Ancient historians regularly argue that the Athenian demos (‘people’) held sailors in much lower esteem than hoplites. They cite in support of this the extant funeral speech of Pericles.  Certainly this famous speech said a lot about courageous hoplites but next to nothing about sailors. Yet it is also clear that this was not a typical example of the genre, and Pericles had his own political reasons for the omission.

A study of the relevant literature of the period will show that, in Athenian democracy, speakers and playwrights articulated the viewpoint of non-elite citizens, and their works put beyond doubt the belief that the demos esteemed sailors as highly as hoplites.

About the speaker

David M Pritchard is Associate Professor of Greek of History at The University of Queensland and has held numerous fellowships in universities in Europe, the UK and USA. He is the author of three books, the most recent being Athenian Democracy at War (2019, and has edited or co-edited two further texts on Greek topics. He speaks on the radio and regularly writes for newspapers around the world, especially France and Germany. He is currently Discipline Coordinator of Classics and Ancient History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry.


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