Athens Local News

Life in Athens

Athens was a busy and prosperous city. A visitor to the city was confronted by the sound of clanging workshops, the raucous noise of the agora, the smell of livestock and the call of shopkeepers selling their goods. Athenians artisans made shoes, swords, pottery, wine and many other goods. Visitors would have also seen slaves working beside their masters. There were appropriately 100,000 slaves living in Athens in the mid 400s. They represented about a third of the total population. Most slaves were captives taken through war and had no political rights in Athenian society.

The voices heard on the streets of Athens were male. Women spent most of their time at home cooking meals, nursing babies, and weaving cloths. They could not own or inherit land and had few legal rights. Girls received no formal education and lived with her family until married. After marriage, women were confined to specific portions of their home. Certain areas were reserved for men.

Most Athenians lived in small simple dwellings made of mud-brick walls. Their homes were furnished with simple tables and chairs and the most valuable possessions were often painted pieces of pottery in which they stored wine and olive oil. These red and black vases were known throughout the Mediterranean and were Athen's chief export.