Dr David Pritchard

Associate Professor

School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 53338
0401 955 160


David M. Pritchard is Associate Professor of Greek History at the University of Queensland (Australia), where he has chaired the Discipline of Classics and Ancient History. He has obtained 15 research fellowships in Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In 2022-3, he was a research fellow in the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study (France). Associate Professor Pritchard is currently the lead CI on a large ARC-funded research project. 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 2024) 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 has obtained the equivalent of 2 million Australian dollars in research funding. Associate Professor Pritchard speaks on the radio and regularly writes for newspapers around the world. His 44 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), Scroll.in (India), The Age (Australia), The Australian and Politike (Brazil). He obtained his PhD in Ancient History from Macquarie University (Australia).

Research Interests

  • 1. The Athenian Funeral Oration: After Nicole Loraux
    Classical Athens staged a funeral oration almost every year for dead combatants. In 1981, Nicole Loraux transformed our understanding of this literary genre. Her The Invention of Athens showed how it reminded the Athenians who they were as a people. Loraux demonstrated how each funeral speech helped them to maintain the same self-identity for more than a century. In spite of this, The Invention of Athens was far from complete. Loraux played down authorship as a subject because it made it easier for her to prove that the funeral speeches were part of a long-stable tradition. But it also meant that her book ignored important questions about all of them. The funeral oration was striking for being thoroughly pro-war. The Invention of Athens never compared it to the other literary genres that Athenian democracy sponsored. Consequently, Loraux could not prove whether they ever counterbalanced the funeral oration’s cultural militarism. I have brought together 20 Hellenists from across the world to finish Loraux’s book. Cambridge University Press published our edited volume of 554 pages in 2024. The Athenian Funeral Oration: After Nicole Loraux answers the important questions that Loraux ignored. It completes the intertextual analysis that is simply missing in The Invention of Athens. What emerges is a speech that had a much greater political impact than Loraux ever imagined. This edited volume puts the study of war in Athenian culture on a completely new footing.
  • 2. The Children of Athena: The Armed Forces of Classical Athens
    Classical Athens perfected participatory democracy, while many plays from there are still staged today. This ancient Greek state is rightly famous for these remarkable political and cultural successes. Much less well known is the other side of Athenian history. Classical Athens completely transformed warfare and quickly became a superpower. The Athenian armed forces were simply unmatched in their size and professionalism. In spite of this striking military success, there is still no book-length study of how the Athenian people waged their almost nonstop wars. I have signed a contract with CUP to publish this monograph. In 431 BC, Pericles famously spoke about the numbers in each branch of the Athenian armed forces. The Armed Forces of Classical Athens fills this significant gap in Athenian historiography by going behind this political leader’s famous numbers. My book studies the institutional history of each of Athens’s 4 military corps as well as the legal and social background of corps-members. It explores how they were recruited and generally thought about their military service. The book reveals for the first time the common concepts and practices that the Athenian people used to manage their armed forces. I have already written two thirds of The Armed Forces of Classical Athens. Cambridge University Press will publish this fourth monograph of mine in 2025. This project is funded by the Australian Research Council.
  • 3. Fourth-Century Athens at War: After Claude Mossé
    This co-edited volume is a major contribution to the rewriting of Athenian history after 404 BC. Traditionally, historians of classical Greece understood the fourth century as a period of steep decline. Claude Mossé – the pioneering French ancient historian – did the most promote the view that fourth-century Athens never recovered from its crushing defeat in the Peloponnesian War. For Mossé, this decline had a clear military dimension: postwar Athens was no longer a military success and hence could not stop the rise of Philip II and Alexander the Great. In the last 40 years, there has been a general rewriting of this traditional view. We now know that fourth-century Athens quickly recovered economically and politically. Nonetheless, we still do not have a new comprehensive assessment of the military record of postwar Athens. Fourth-Century Athens at War provides this new detailed picture. It brings together 18 leading Hellenists to study all aspects of Athenian warfare 404 and 322. Project-members met at a major conference in Nantes (France) in 2023. Cambridge University Press has already expressed the firmest-possible interest in publishing our volume. Fourth-Century Athens at War will probably appear in 2025. This project is also funded by the Australian Research Council.
  • 4. Society and Democracy in Classical Athens
    The major project on which I will focus after 2023. I will seek up to 2.5 million € of funding for this major 5-year project from the Australian Research Council, the European Research Council, the British Academy and/or the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (. The project will include 2 postdoctoral research fellows and 2 doctoral students. It will thoroughly explore the symbiosis of society and democracy in classical Athens. Classical Athenians generally divided themselves into 2 social classes: the rich and the poor. They did not use these terms vaguely to describe the prosperity of some relative to others. Rather the terms described 2 distinct social groups who, in reality, had different ways of life and public obligations. Vital as this class distinction was, ancient historians have not thoroughly analysed how it operated practically and how it interacted with democratic politics. Drawing especially on the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, I will analyse how individual Athenians carefully performed their respective class positions and how some of them successfully moved from one class to another. My monograph will also study how democratic politics allowed the poor to redefine this social distinction and to enact public policies in tune with their evolving class-related perceptions. The project’s 4 other members will study afresh the other social groups of classical Athens: Attic women, metics and slaves. In addition to 3 monographs and 2 doctoral theses, there will be a major international conference leading to an edited volume of 20 or so chapters.

Research Impacts

Democratic Athens was the most important Greek state of the classical world. The major public activities of the classical Athenians were politics, religious festivals and wars. In each activity, Athens was a runaway success. It developed democracy to a far higher level than any other ancient state. It became one of the ancient world’s superpowers. It staged more festivals than any other polis. My research has significantly advanced our knowledge of all 3 activities. I have studied extensively how the Athenians waged their almost nonstop wars. I have published the most detailed analysis of the extent of participation in their games. I have investigated how the conception of sport and war with a common set of concepts impacted on the public standing of both activities. I have shown how the military and the cultural innovations of the Athenians were direct products of their democracy. I have completed the first exhaustive investigation, since August Böckh, of how much they spent on their 3 major public activities.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Macquarie University
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Macquarie University


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  • Master Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

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Featured Publications


Book Chapter

  • David M. Pritchard (2024). Sailors in the Funeral Oration and Beyond. The Athenian Funeral Oration: After Nicole Loraux. (pp. 376-413) edited by David M. Pritchard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781009413053

  • David M. Pritchard (2024). The Funeral Oration after Loraux. The Athenian Funeral Oration: After Nicole Loraux. (pp. 1-55) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781009413053

  • David M. Pritchard (2022). Sold: Griechisch. Militärgeschichte der griechisch-römischen Antike Lexikon, Supplement 12 of Der Neue Pauly. (pp. 969-973) edited by L. A. Burckhardt and M. A. Speidel. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler Verlag.

  • David M. Pritchard (2022). Honouring the War Dead in Democratic Athens. Democracy and Salamis: 2500 Years after the Battle That Saved Greece and the Western World. (pp. 285-305) edited by E. M. L. Economou, N. C. Kyriazis and A. Platias. Heidelberg: Springer Verlag. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-98431-1

  • David M. Pritchard (2022). The Social Structure of Democratic Athens. Morte e Vida na Grécia Antiga: Olhares interdisciplinares. (pp. 102-132) edited by M. A. de Oliveira Silva and C. D. de Souza. Teresina: edufpi.

  • David M. Pritchard (2021). Armed Forces. The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Athens. (pp. 405-417) edited by Jenifer Neils and Dylan Rogers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Pritchard, David M. (2021). Athletic participation, training, and adolescent education. The Oxford handbook of sport and spectacle in the ancient world. (pp. 629-649) edited by Thomas F. Scanlon and Alison Futrell. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199592081.013.17

  • David M. Pritchard (2019). Sparta Becomes Athens: The Peloponnesian War's Last Ten Years. Estudos sobre Esparta. (pp. 87-103) edited by F. V. Cerqueira and M. A. de Oliveira Silva. Porto Pelotas: Ed. UFPel.

  • Pritchard, David M. (2019). Army. The Encyclopedia of Greek Comedy. (pp. 93-94) edited by Alan H. Sommerstein. Hoboken, NJ, United States: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • David M. Pritchard (2018). Army. The Encyclopaedia of Greek Comedy. (pp. 93-94) Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Pritchard, David M. (2017). Esporte e Guerra na Atenas Democrática. Vida e Morten os Jogos da Antiguidade: Entre poder, competição e religião. (pp. 92-104) edited by C. Diogo de Souza and V. C. Porto. São Paulo, Brazil: Revista do Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia.

  • Pritchard, David M. (2016). Democracy and war. Conflict in Ancient Greece and Rome: The Definitive Political, Social, and Military Encyclopedia: Greek Section. (pp. 242-243) edited by Iain Spence, Douglas Kelly and Peter Londey. Santa Barbara CA, United States: ABL-CLIO.

  • Pritchard, David M. (2016). Public spending and war. Conflict in Ancient Greece and Rome: The Definitive Political, Social, and Military Encyclopedia: Greek Section. (pp. 274-278) edited by Iain Spence, Douglas Kelly and Peter Londey. Santa Barbara, CA, United States: ABC-CLIO.

  • Pritchard, David M. (2016). Sport and war. Conflict in Ancient Greece and Rome: The Definitive Political, Social, and Military Encyclopedia: Greek Section. (pp. 518-520) edited by Iain Spence, Douglas Kelly and Peter Londey. Santa Barbara, CA, United States: ABC-CLIO.

  • Pritchard, David M. (2015). Athens. A Companion to Ancient Education. (pp. 112-122) edited by W. Martin Bloomer. Chicester, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons. doi: 10.1002/9781119023913.ch6

  • Pritchard, David (2010). Sport, war and democracy in classical Athens. Sport in the cultures of the ancient world. (pp. 64-97) edited by Zinon Papakonstantinou. Abingdon Oxon, U.K.: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

  • Pritchard, David (2010). The symbiosis between democracy and war: The case of ancient Athens. War, democracy and culture in classical Athens. (pp. 1-62) edited by David Pritchard. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

  • Pritchard, David (2003). Athletics, education and participation in Classical Athens. Sport and festival in the ancient Greek world. (pp. 293-349) edited by David Phillips and David Pritchard. London: Classical Press of Wales.

  • Phillips, David J. and Pritchard, David (2003). Introduction. Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World. (pp. vii-xxxi) edited by Phillips, David J. and Pritchard, David. Swansea: Classical Press of Wales. doi: 10.4324/9781315198514-1

  • Pritchard, David M. (1998). Thetes, Hoplites, and the Athenian Imaginary. Ancient history in a modern university: Volume 1: The ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome. (pp. 121-127) edited by T. W. Hillard, R. A, Kearsley, C. E. V. Nixon and A. M. Nobbs. Sydney and Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Pritchard, David (2012). What was the point of Olympic victory?. A Conference on Olympic Athletes: Ancient and Modern, St. Lucia, QLD, Australia, 6-8 July 2012. St. Lucia, QLD, Australia: The School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classic, The University of Queensland.

  • Pritchard, David (2010). War, democracy and culture in Classical Athens. ASCS 31 [2010], Perth, WA, Australia, 2-5 February 2010. Perth, WA, Australia: The University of Western Australia.

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision