Athens, 9 October 2018.
(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)
From the Roman Agora of Athens (in the previous post) we headed to the Ancient Agora of Athens, which involved a brief walk through the city.
This is from the Temple of Hephaistos, later in the afternoon, but it gives a good overview of where we are. Up at the top right on the horizon is the Acropolis. We walked down from the Propylae, at the right end, to the Roman Agora, somewhere behind the poplars in the middle distance. The long low building is the Stoa of Attalos, now a museum, which we will visit. We also visit the Church of the Holy Apostles, which you can just see off to the right of the Stoa (maybe click on the image for a larger view). The whole area in between the viewpoint of the photograph and the Stoa is the Ancient Agora, though not a lot of it remains.
The Agora was a large open square gradually surrounded with administrative buildings. it was the heart of public life in the city and the centre of Democracy. It was also the administrative centre, the judicial centre and the religious centre. As well as that it was the centre for theatrical events, musical events, commercial transactions, religious events and athletic contests. It was also the centre of the Great Panathenaia, a festival held every four years.
Here is a view of the Ancient Agora, taken from a notice board. On the far right (20) is the Temple of Hephaistos and on the left (13) is the Stoa of Attalos. In the middle (12) is the Odeon of Agrippa, which must have been quite impressive in its time but hardly anything remains. At the far top right is the Pnyx, the open air site for the democratic assembly.
Back to the timeline: we are now approaching the Stoa of Attalos.
You can line it up with Mount Lycabettus in the distance.
The Stoa of Attalos was the gift of Attalos II, King of Pergamon, in the second century BC. It was 120 metres long and had 21 shops at the back of both floors, which could be rented by merchants. It was also a meeting place for the general public and an ideal place from which to view the Procession of the Great Panathenaia.
Along with many other monumental buildings, the Stoa was destroyed during the sack of Athens by the Herulians, a barbarian tribe, in 267AD. Its ruins were later incorporated in the Late Roman Fortification Wall, as after the sack Athens remained greatly reduced. In 1950 little remained other than the foundations but it was completely restored from 1953 to 1956 and the first floor houses the Ancient Agora Museum, where we now go.
Inside the museum, here is a model of the Agora, viewed now from a different angle. The Stoa of Attalos is on the right, the Temple of Hephaistos (coming up) is on the far left.
This is a model of the Pnyx, the meeting place of the democratic assembly, in its later form. Unfortunately I missed an opportunity and didn’t go up to what remains of it (not much) or photograph that in its context.
The Ekklesia was the ancient democratic assembly (curious how words evolve). Originally it was in the large square of the Agora but in the early 5th century it moved up the hill. At first it was just on the rock of the hillside with the speakers platform at the bottom but in the late 5th century BC the structure was built and the speakers faced the other way. It was extended in later years and could accommodate 6,000 citizens or more. The name Pnyx is a Greek word for “tightly packed together”.
Of course ancient Athenian democracy was just slightly different from what we call democracy today. All citizens had the right to participate, debate and vote. Citizens though excluded women and slaves though slavery was not as predatory as later in the US for example.
Athenian democracy produced many great leaders including Cleisthenes, Themistocles, Ephialtes and Pericles. Athens was also the maritime superpower of its time and came to have an empire with territories and allies covering the shores and islands of the Aegean, while Greek colonies of various forms stretched from Georgia to near Valencia.
Head of Alexander the Great or Eubouleus, a god connected with the Elusinian mysteries, unfinished 2nd century AD Roman copy of 4th century BC Greek original.
Portrait head of a man, probably an African athlete, 250-260AD.
Portrait head of a man, 2nd century AD.
Portrait bust of the Emperor Antoninus Pius 138-161AD.
Outside again, of course. I know where this is; I found it on Google Earth. It’s about thirty metres from the south end of the Stoa of Attalos and the remains of the walls behind are part of the Middle Stoa. What these circular shapes are though I don’t know. Perhaps the two with indents in the middle were bases for statues.
Not far from the Stoa of Attalos (as we can see in the background) and taken during the walkk down from the Acropolis, is the 11th century Church of the Holy Apostles, restored 1954-56.
I find the surviving frescoes much more artistically appealing than more modern equivalents, which are more technically perfect, less expressive and ethnically anachronistic.
This is the Temple of Hephaistos, the only surviving part of the Ancient Agora. This image was taken from a distance, from near the Stoa of Attalos.
… while this is taken from close beside it. The temple dates from 460 to 415BC and Hephaistos was patron of metal workers. It is “a Doric peripteral temple, with pronaos (fore-temple), cella (inner shrine) and opisthanaos (rear temple), the best preserved of its type in the Greek world”.
Here is one of the reliefs high above the columns, of either the Labours of Hercules or the Labours of Theseus.
A view of the Acropolis from the Temple of Hephaistos.
Crowds at the entrance of the Propylaea.
Walking back, this is the remains of the Temple of Ares, from the 5th century BC, which was about the same size and date as the Temple of Hephaistos. There is a sign “Altar of Ares” in the background.
The remains of two statues from the Odeon of Agrippa. Thgis was a grand luxurious building for musical performances constructed around 15BC. Its unsupported roof collapsed around 150AD and it was then rebuilt with a different method but it was destroyed by the Herulians in 267AD.
We then walked down to the city and had dinner on a rooftop restaurant where I was able to take some photos with a long lens as the sun went down. These people are waiting on the Areopagus to photograph the Acropolis during the sunset. The Areopagus in ancient times was the site of the supreme court. In the previous photograph of the Acropolis, it is off to the right.
Sunset and the Acropolis is closed or closing. This is the last person leaving the entrance of the Propylae.
The Acropolis by night.