THE ANCIENT CITY OF ATHENS

HELPFUL LINKS

GOOGLE
PERSEUS
DR. J.'S ATHENS
MIN. OF CULTURE
STOA

 

The purpose of this exercise is for you, the student, to discover the ancient city of Athens, particularly the Acropolis and surrounding area.  You will find some guidance here, but generally speaking you will have to find the answers on your own and anyway that you can.  There is no one way to learn this information.  Use books, the web, film, or any other resource you choose.  Regardless of how you learn the material, there is a certain body of knowledge that you must master.  Use the exercises scattered throughout this site to determine whether you are learning the correct information.  If not, go back to the drawing board.

 

Questions or problems?  Contact Kirk Summers, ksummers@ML.AS.UA.EDU

 

 

   
   

 

 

GETTING A FEEL FOR THE ANCIENT CITY AND ITS PRESENT STATE:   Start with panoramic views of the ancient part of the city as it exists today.  You have to understand that the basic outlay of the ancient city of Athens was like this:  The acropolis rose high in the center of the city.  On its top stood numerous monuments, in particular the Parthenon, the temple to Athena.  The acropolis itself was a citadel or fortress, the last holdout for the Athenians if they were under attack.  On the slopes of the acropolis were other important buildings, including the Theater of Dionysus and another Roman theater built by Herodes Atticus on the south side.  On the other side was the Areopagos, and beyond that one finds the ancient agora, a Greek marketplace with many public buildings and some more temples (a Metroon for Cybele, the Temple of Hephaestus, etc.).  In what is now the "Plaka" area of Athens one would find houses, then an outer wall (in later times) with large gates.  The enormous Temple of Olympian Zeus stood right outside one of the main gates.   
   
THE BUILDINGS ON THE ACROPOLIS:   Besides the well-known Parthenon, one could find many other types of buildings and monuments on the acropolis, the remains of which can be seen today.  See what you can learn about the Pinakotheke, the Temple of Nike Apteros (or Athena Nike), the Erechtheion (Erechtheum), the statue of Athena Promachos, the Porch of the Caryatids, the Propylaia, and the Beule Gate.  Dr. J.'s Athens site will be especially helpful (see links above).    There is also a virtual tour of the acropolis at this site and a nice map here.
   

ATHENA PARTHENOS (OF PHEIDIAS):   You can find descriptions of this enormous and beautiful statue everywhere, though not a trace of it remains.  Small-scale copies were made, however, and ancient travelers made descriptions of it.  How would you describe it? 

EXERCISE 1Test your knowledge of the statue with this challenge. 

   
ATHENA POLIAS AND THE PANATHENAIA:  The festival of the Panathenaia (see your textbook) involved an elaborate procession of the people of Athens to an olivewood statue of Athena Polias ("of the city") on the acropolis.  Where was this statue housed?  Look at the frieze that comes from the Parthenon.  Where are these panels today? 

 

   
THEATER OF DIONYSUS:  It was at the Theater of Dionysus on the south slope of the acropolis where all the important tragedies and comedies were first staged (with a few exceptions).  At the festival of Dionysus, large audiences sat and watched theatrical contests and awarded prizes to the greatest playwright of the year.  Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes all won awards here.  Read about the theater and study the layout of it.  Where would the chorus stand and where would the actors perform?  How did the gods enter the scene?   
     
THE AGORA:  The civic life of ancient Athens was centered on the agora (marketplace).  Socrates wandered the streets annoying the pseudo-intellectuals.  The procession to Eleusis for the mysteries started in this area.  The Greek agora is not to be confused with the later Roman agora which stood nearby.  Most of the basic buildings, including the Bouleuterion, are described at the Ministry of Culture site.  Read all you can on the buildings and their use.