Barry McNamara  |  Published February 09, 2023

Fox Classics Lecture

Feb. 20 talk by Indiana University professor Matthew Christ will show that ancient Athens had bad citizens, too.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – The pandemic and many other controversies over the past few years have shed light on the different ways that Americans define good citizenship in our democratic republic. An upcoming talk at Monmouth College will provide perspective on how democratic Athenians, too, did not always have the same definition of responsible citizenship.

MATTHEW CHRIST: Indiana University professor will deliver Monmouth's annual Fox Classics Lect... MATTHEW CHRIST: Indiana University professor will deliver Monmouth's annual Fox Classics Lecture on Feb. 20.On Feb. 20, guest lecturer Matthew Christ will present the 38th annual Fox Classics Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Dahl Chapel and Auditorium.

Chair of classical studies at Indiana University, Christ is the author of such books as The Limits of Altruism in Democratic Athens and The Bad Citizen in Classical Athens. Based on themes of those two books, his lecture is titled “Draft Dodging, Tax Evasion, and Democratic Citizenship in Ancient Athens.” It is free and open to the public.

Christ’s lecture examines a facet of the Athenian experience that has received less scholarly attention than it deserves: the nature and scope of bad citizenship in classical Athens and the city’s institutional and ideological responses.

“Good citizenship is not ubiquitous in modern democracies, and it also was not in democratic Athens, where draft dodging and tax evasion were common,” said Christ. “This presented the city with practical challenges, as it sought to limit the scope for bad citizenship through its administrative structures and legal institutions.”

At the same time, however, Christ noted that bad citizenship challenged Athenian ideals concerning the relationship between individual and state, and elicited a range of ideological responses from the city.

“How Athens responded to these diverse challenges within a democratic framework is fundamental to our understanding of it,” he said.

Established in 1985, the Fox Classics Lecture honors the late Bernice L. Fox, who taught classics at Monmouth from 1947-81. The series’ goal is to illustrate the continuing importance of classical studies in the modern world and the intersection of the classics with other disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences.

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