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Bowdoin Student Research: Did Rowing Help Power Up Democracy? Archives


It didn’t take much to get Elliott Munn ’12 to dip his oar into research. He feels the pull of history every time he gets into a Bowdoin rowing shell. The classics major and longtime Bowdoin crew member is working on an independent study project that links the act of rowing with the rise of democracy in ancient Athens.

Elliott Munn ’12 (far right) rows bow seat for Bowdoin Men’s Rowing Club.

“The Athenians were the best navy in the Aegean for two centuries,” says Munn, who won a Surdna Foundation Fellowship to begin his research last summer. “There has to be a reason why they were dominant for so long and from what I can tell from modern reconstruction of classical archaeology “¦ it’s because they had the best, most skilled rowers.” Read more.

2 thoughts on “Bowdoin Student Research: Did Rowing Help Power Up Democracy?

  1. Charlie Graham of Camden

    I wonder if Elliott Munn’s interest in the subject was inspired in any way by the recent book “Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy” by John Hale? If so, he may have been partly inspired by Bowdoin graduate, Sam Manning, ’55(?) who did the drawings in that book. Sam is considered one of the best naval draftsmen and artists in the publishing business, and is an accomplished historical writer himself.

  2. Charlie Graham of Camden

    I forgot to add in my previous that Sam Manning is also an accomplished rower and, at age 80-something, continues to row his ancient Swampscott dory a mile and a half around Camden (ME) Harbor almost every day, even in below-zero winter weather, assisted by his equally accomplished wife, Susan.

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