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2014: Citizenship in a Democracy

More than 2000 years after the foundation of the world’s first democracy in a small city-state called Athens, there are still lessons we can learn from it. Greek political culture, which intersected with the overlapping spheres of religion, war, and social values, has left an enduring legacy that continues to affect the way we formulate our questions and confront our challenges.

The following lectures were presented:

  • Religion in Athenian Democracy, Prof. Deborah Boedeker
  • 'Leaders in War and Bravery': The Ideology of War in Fifth-Century Athens, Prof. Kurt Raaflaub
  • What Is Democracy and What Is It Good For?, Prof. Josiah Ober

Dr. Deborah Boedeker, retired emerita from Brown University, has published widely on archaic poetry, religion, and historiography. She has written two sole-authored monographs (Aphrodite’s Entry into Greek Epic, 1974, and Descent from Heaven: Images of Dew in Greek Poetry and Religion, 1984) and many articles, most recently on Sappho and domestic religion. 

Dr. Kurt Raaflaub, emeritus from Brown University and a former president of the American Philological Association, has published extensively on the social and political history of Greece and Rome. In 2011–2012, he coedited three volumes (Epic and History; Geography and Ethnography; The Roman Empire in Context) and is currently working on a book that explores intellectual life in the ancient world as a whole. 

Dr. Josiah Ober has written widely on Athenian democratic thought and political philosophy (five books and numerous articles). His projects have brought insights drawn from the study of the ancient world to bear on modern issues. Dr. Ober is a past president of the American Philological Association, and has served as chair of Classics at Princeton University and is currently chair of Political Science at Stanford University.


This lecture was co-sponsored with the First Year Experience, the School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs, the Classics Club, Eta Sigma Phi, the Department of History, the Department of Political Science, and the Initiative for Public Choise and Market Process.