Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Marathon2500: “War and Sports" with Professor Thomas Scanlon

"War and Sports"
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
2:00 PM ET/ 11:00 AM PT (90 minute lecture and Q&A)

Both sport and battle were "contests" for the Greeks, agones, in their terms. We will here look at the fascinating and puzzling legend(s) of Pheidippides (or whatever his name was), ancient long-distance messenger runners ("day runners" hemerodromoi) as a class, ancient footraces in the stadium, perhaps a bit about the Olympic truce (on the theme of sport and war), the Marathon Race in the modern Olympics, and modern long-distance running. The common thread is the Greek and our own contest culture.

Department Chair of Comparative Literature, and Director of Comparative Ancient Civilizations at the University of California, Riverside, Tom Scanlon's research is on Greek and Roman sport, and Greek and Roman historical writing; his teaching interests encompass most areas of Greek and Roman literature, language, and culture, including courses on ancient sports, religion, gender, and mythology.

Location: Teleconference from anywhere in the world
Free registration

On what may be a related note, Sport, War and Democracy in Classical Athens by David M. Pritchard (2009)
(Hat tip to rogueclassicism for the link to the paper)
Abstract: This article concerns the paradox of athletics in classical Athens. Democracy may have opened up politics to every class of Athenian but it had little impact on sporting participation. The city’s athletes continued to drawn predominantly from the upper class. It comes as a surprise then that lower-class Athenians actually esteemed athletes above every other group in the public eye, honoured them very generously when they won, and directed a great deal of public and private money to sporting competitions and facilities. In addition athletics escaped the otherwise persistent criticism of upper-class activities in the popular culture of the democracy. The research of social scientists on sport and aggression suggests this paradox may have been due to the cultural overlap between athletics and war under the Athenian democracy. The article concludes that the practical and ideological democratization of war by classical Athens legitimized and supported upper-class sport.

Update: I listened in on the call, which is now available as a podcast--enjoyable and interesting. I make an appearance through one of the questions. *lol*

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