Nigel Kennell

Research Interests

  • History of Sparta
  • Greek Epigraphy
  • Greek Civic Culture in the Hellenistic and Roman periods


“New approaches to the Greek Ephebate.” From the fourth century BCE until the fourth century of our era, every Greek city of any size trained its male youth in the elements of military practice while acclimatizing them to their future role as engaged and responsible citizens, in a type of training system called ephebeia (Eng. “ephebate”). Through a combination of epigraphical and anthropological methodologies, this project aims at a fuller understanding of the ephebate’s social and political role during the many centuries of its existence throughout the Greek and Hellenized Mediterranean world.

Research Positions

Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford, Jan.-Mar. 2009
Summer Visitor, July 1 -Aug. 15, 1997, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ
Chercheur associé, Jan.- Mar. 1994, Centre de recherche d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance, Collège de France, Paris
Research Assistant, Sept. 1992- Dec. 1993, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ



Spartans: A New History, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010
Ephebeia: Citizen Training Systems in Greek Cities of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods. Nikephoros Beiheft12. Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2006
Ancient Greece at the Turn of the Millennium. Joint editor with J. Tomlinson. CAIA publications 4, 2005
The Gymnasium of Virtue: Education and Culture in Ancient Sparta,  University of North Carolina Press,


“Age-Class Societies in Ancient Greece?” forthcoming in Ancient Society
“Boys, Girls, Family and State at Sparta,” forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World, J. Evans Grubbs and T. Parkin eds.
“The Hellenistic Ephebate,” forthcoming in The Blackwell Companion to Ancient Education, M. Bloomer ed.
“Gymnasium and Polis,” forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World, A. Futrell and T. Scanlon eds.
“Who were the Neoi?,” forthcoming in Epigraphical Approaches to the Post-classical Polis: 4th century B.C. to 2nd century A.D., P. Martzavou and N. Papazarkadas eds.
“Thaumasies gunaikes: The Elite Women of Hellenistic and Roman Sparta,” forthcoming in Unveiling Spartan Women, E. Greenstein-Millender ed. (Swansea, 201?)
“The Agoge,” in The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, R. Bagnall, K. Brodersen, C.Champion, A. Erskine,and S. Huebner eds. (Chichester, 2011)
“Violence in the ‘Upbringing’ of Ancient Sparta,” in Childhood, Violence and the Western Tradition,  L. Brockliss and H. Montgomery eds. (Oxford, 2010) 107-12
“Citizen Training in the Roman Peloponnese,” in Society, Economy and Culture under the Roman Empire: Continuity and Innovation. The Roman Peloponnese III, A. Rizakis and C. Lepenioti eds. (Athens, 2010), 205-16
“The Greek Ephebate in the Roman Period,” The International Journal of the History of Sport 26 (2009) 323-42
“Laconia and Messenia,” with N. Luraghi, in A Companion to Archaic Greece, K. Raaflaub and H. van Wees eds. (Chichester, 2009), 239-54
“Marcus Aurelius Alexys and the ‘Homeland Security’ of Roman Sparta,” in Sparta and Lakonia from Prehistory to Pre-modern, W. Cavanagh, C. Gallou, and M. Georgiadis eds. (London, 2009), 285-91
“New Light on 2 Maccabees 4:9-15,” Journal of Jewish Studies 56 (2005) 11-24
“Agreste genus: Helots in Hellenistic Laconia,” in Helots and their Masters in Laconia and Messenia: Histories,Ideologies, Structures, S. Alcock and N. Luraghi eds. (Washington and Cambridge Mass., 2003) 81-105
“Most Necessary for the Bodies of Men: Olive Oil and its By-Products in the Later Greek Gymnasium,” in In Altum: Seventy-five years of Classics in Newfoundland, M. Joyal ed. (St. John’s, 2001) 119-33
“The Status of the Ephebarch,” TYCHE. Beiträge zur Alte Geschichte, Papyrologie und Epigraphik (2000) 103-8
“Age Categories and Chronology in the Hellenistic Theseia,” Phoenix 53 (1999) 249-62
“From Periokoi to Poleis: the Laconian Cities in the Late Hellenistic Period,” in Sparta: New Perspectives, S. Hodkinson and A. Powell eds., (London, 1999) 189-210
“Herodes Atticus and the Rhetoric of Tyranny,” Classical Philology 92 (1997) 346-62
“An Early Byzantine Constitution from Ziporea,” Epigraphica Anatolica 25 (1996) 129-36
“Heresy at Ephesus,” Epigraphica Anatolica 24 (1995) 131-36
“The Synarchia at Sparta,” Phoenix 46 (1992) 342-51
“IG V,1, 16 and the Gerousia of Roman Sparta,” Hesperia 61 (1992) 193-202
“The Size of the Spartan Patronomate,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 85 (1991) 131-37
“NERWN PERIODONIKHS,” American Journal of Philology 109 (1988) 239-51
“Where was Sparta’s Prytaneion?” American Journal of Archaeology 91 (1987) 421-22


Review of A. Chankowski, L’ Éphébie Hellénistique, in BMCR 2012.07.06
Review of E. Perrin-Saminadayar, Éducation, culture et société à Athènes, in BMCR 2009.09.43
Review of J. Ducat, Spartan Education, in Journal of Hellenic Studies (2008) 228-229
Review of P. Nigdelis and G. Souris, Anthupatos legei (ena diatagma ton autokratorikon chronon gia to gumnasio tes Beroias),  in BMCR 2007.08.31
Review of S. Miller, Ancient Greek Athletics, in The Historian 67 (2005) 360-61
Review of R. Van Dam, Kingdom of Snow: Roman Rule and Greek Culture in Cappadocia, in The Historian 66 (2004) 206-7
Review of R. Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, in Mouseion (formerly EMC/CV) Series III 1 (2001) 351-52
Review of K. Morgan, Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds, in EMC/CV 44 (2000)118-23
Review of M. Golden, Sport and Society in Ancient Greece, in University of Toronto Quarterly 69.1 (1999-2000) 169-70
Review of D. Mattingly ed., Dialogues in Roman Imperialism, in Phoenix 53 (1999) 185-87
Review of M. Hoff, S Rotroff edd, The Romanization of Athens, in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1998.10.08
Review of G. Cordiano, La ginnasiarchia nelle “poleis” dell’occidente mediterraneo antico, in Echos du Monde Classique/Classical News and Views 17 (1998) 194-96
Review of K. Arafat, Pausanias’ Greece, and J. Bingen ed. Pausanias Historien (Entretiens Hardt), in Phoenix 51(1997) 229-233
Review of L. Foxhall, A. Lewis eds., Greek Law in its Political Setting, in The American Journal of Legal History 41 (1997) 283-84
Review of M. Golden and P. Toohey, eds., Inventing Ancient Culture: Historicism, Periodization, and the Ancient World, in BMCR 1997.06.13
Review of W. Helleman ed., Hellenization Revisited, in Phoenix 49 (1995) 368-70
Review of K. Harl, Civic Coins and Civic Politics in the Roman East A.D. 180-275, in Phoenix 43 (1989) 276-79
Review of G. Marasco, Commento alle Biografie Plutarchee di Agide e di Cleomene, in PLOUTARCHOS 4 (1988) 13-14

Review of L.J. Piper, Spartan Twilight, in PLOUTARCHOS 3 (1987) 17-18


Unrefereed Papers
“The Power of the Past: Archaism and Greek Urban Culture under the Roman Empire,” ACA Annual Meeting, Wolfville, NS, 1995
“The Four Obai of Early Sparta,” Atlantic Classical Association Annual Meeting, St. John’s Nfld.,1991
“Archaism at Roman Sparta,” CAC Annual Meeting, Guelph Ont., 1984
“The Synarchia at Sparta,” Classical Association of Canada Annual Meeting, Vancouver BC, 1983

Refereed Papers
“The ‘Helmet’ on the Zoilos Frieze at Aphrodisias.” AIA Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 2003
“The Later Greek Ephebate.” APA Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 2003
“Elite Women of Roman Sparta,” in the joint panel “New Perspectives on Spartan Women,” APA Annual Meeting, Washington DC, 1998
“‘Its Use the Greeks Turned to Indulgence:’ Recycling Olive Oil from the Gymnasium,” APA Annual Meeting, Chicago, 1997
“The ‘Tyranny’ of Herodes Atticus,” APA Annual Meeting, San Diego, 1995
“Archaism in Greek Art, History, and Literature Under the Roman Empire,” Organizer (with Sara B. Aleshire, U.C. Berkeley) and chair of joint panel, AIA/APA Annual Meeting, Atlanta, 1994
“The Trouble with Amyklai,” APA Annual Meeting, Chicago, 1991
“Pausanias, the Endurance Contest and Early Sparta,” APA Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 1990
“Forty Saints, But How Many Gerontes?” AIA Annual Meeting, Boston, 1989
“Nero, the Furies and Lycurgus,” APA Annual Meeting, San Antonio, 1986
“Roman Sparta and the ‘Lycurgan Customs’,” APA Annual Meeting, Toronto, 1984

Invited Papers
“Children & Youth in the Spartan Mirage,” Canadian Institute in Greece, Annual Meeting Keynote Speech, May, 2012
“The ‘aftermath’ of the ephebate? The Neoi in the Hellenistic Greek City,” Durham University & Nottingham University, March 2009
“The Problem of Ephebic ‘Twins’ in Ancient Greece” All Souls College, Oxford, March 2009
“The ‘aftermath’ of the ephebate? The Institutional and Military Relationship between Ephebes and Neoi,” Jesus College, Oxford, May 2007
“Marcus Aurelius Alexys and the ‘Homeland Security’ of Roman Sparta,” Sparta and Lakonia from Prehistory to Premodern, Sparta, March 17-20 2004
“Some Gymnasiarchs of Asia Minor,” Seminar at University of Athens, May 2002
“A Philosophical School for the jeunesse dorée? The Later Greek Ephebate,” American School of Classical Studies at Athens, April 2001
“Agreste genus: Helots in Hellenistic Laconia,” Harvard University, Cambridge Mass., March 2001
“Training Spartans: Mirage and Misconception in the Study of the ‘agoge’,” International Centre for Hellenic and Mediterranean Studies, Athens, Greece, December 2000

“In illam veram et meram Graeciam: Greek Archaism in its Roman Context,” CAIA, Athens, Greece, Oct. 2000
“The Power of the Past in Greek Cities of the Roman Empire,” University of Manchester, Nov. 1998
“From Perioikoi to Poleis: the Laconian Cities in the Late Hellenistic Period,” Sparta: New Perspectives, Hay-on-Wye, UK Sept. 8-10 1997

“The Endurance Contest at Sparta” and “A History of the Spartan Educational System,” University of Bergen, Norway, March 1994