Matthew R. ChristMatthew R. Christ

  • Professor and Chair, Department of Classical Studies
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of History


  • B.A. at Carleton College, summa cum laude, 1982
  • M.A. at Princeton University, 1984
  • Ph.D. at Princeton University, 1987

Research Interests

  • Athenian Legal and Social History
  • Greek Historiography
  • Greek Rhetoric and Oratory

Contact Information

Ballantine Hall, Room 548


Much of my work focuses on how institutions (e.g., antidosis, conscription, ostracism, and taxation) functioned in democratic Athens (508-322 BC) and how Athenian citizens worked within, and sometimes around, civic regulations. I am especially interested in tensions between the actual practices of individuals and civic ideals invoked in public discourse. In my view, to understand the Athenian experience we must draw on both poetry and prose and eschew artificial distinctions between “literature” and “history.” In my first book, The Litigious Athenian (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), I explored the Athenian discussion of the abuse of law and legal process under the democracy, arguing that this allows us to inquire into an intriguing facet of classical Athens: how Athenians conceived of, and responded to, problematic aspects of their personal and collective legal experience. In my second book, The Bad Citizen in Classical Athens (Cambridge University Press, 2006), I investigated the nature and scope of bad citizenship in connection with military service and financial obligations and the city’s responses—institutional and ideological—to this, with the aim of illuminating the relationship between citizen and city under the Athenian democracy. My abiding interest in reconstructing Athenian values and behavior leads me now to explore “helping behavior” in Athens as an ideal and reality in private and public life.  

Selected Awards

  • Phi Beta Kappa (1982)
  • Seymour Fellowship, American School of Classical Studies at Athens (1985/6)
  • Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities, Princeton (1986/7)
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (1994/5)
  • Indiana University Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant (2002/3)

Courses Recently Taught

  • Herodotus
  • Thucydides
  • Greek Prose Composition
  • Golden Age of Athens
  • Survey of Greek Literature

Publication Highlights


The Bad Citizen in Classical Athens. Cambridge University Press, 2006 (hb); 2008 (pb; and hb [reprint]). 

The Litigious Athenian. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.


"Helping Behavior in Classical Athens," Phoenix 64.3-4 (2010) 254-90.

"Helping and Community in the Athenian Lawcourts," in Valuing Others in Classical Antiquity, edited by R. Rosen and I. Sluiter (Leiden 2010) 205-32.

"Imagining bad citizenship in Classical Athens: Aristophanes' Ecclesiazusae 730-876," in KAKOS: Badness and Anti-Value in Classical Antiquity, edited by I. Sluiter and R. Rosen (Leiden 2009) 169-83.

"The Evolution of the Eisphora in Classical Athens," Classical Quarterly 57 (2007) 53-69.