31 July 2012
Venue: Room 215, Owen G Glenn Building (The University of Auckland Business School)
Host: Prof. Matthew Trundle – HoD Classics & Ancient History
This paper will revisit the relationship between athletes and warfare in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Early Greek athletes were talismanic warriors (Milon of Croton, Homer’s heroes, even Spartan Olympic victors fought next to their king). Homer preserves hints that athletics and warfare were separate affairs and writers like Tyrtaeus despised athletes, but by the classical age writers’ criticisms of athletes as useless in war (as in almost everything else) became more regular. Had war changed so much that athletes no longer served any purpose on the battlefield? Or had the connection between war and athletics always been tenuous, present only in a mythologised ‘good-old-days’ ideal in which amateur-aristocratic athletes were warrior-leaders; an ideal that had never really existed?