Athens: From the Beginning
Athens celebrates its rich history and many accomplishments
The Acropolis: A Pinnacle of Architectural Achievement
In the 6th century B.C.E., the first Doric stone temple was built to Athena. Two more temples were built on the Acropolis during this period, but unfortunately all of these temples were destroyed during the terrible Persian sack of Athens. However, Pericles decided to use tribute money from the Delian League to rebuild, and the Parthenon, Erechthion, Propylaia, and the temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon became a cultural and religious center, with the feature being the 40-foot-tall statue of Athena made of ivory and gold.
The Acropolis was one of the major architectural sites of Greece, featuring the Parthenon
Water clocks were used as a way of timing speeches in Athenian court.
The Agora, or marketplace, is where Greek males spent the majority of their time.
Democracy is one of Athens's defining features
This is not to say that democracy does not have its opponents. Socrates and Plato were both in favor of oligarchies ruled by the masses. However, the oligarchy instituted by the Spartans at the end of the Peloponnesian War was proven to be tyrannical and failed. In fact, Athenian democracy is the only non-tyrannical form of rule that is acceptable to Athens. While they have had their fair share of good leaders, democracy is the more acceptable choice for the Athenian people.
Comedy and Tragedy: Greek Plays and Politics
Later, another form of Greek plays became more prominent. Aristophanes was the most famous comic playwright. Comedy was largely satirical, and made fun of many important events and figures. Comedy also often featured innuendos and other subtle jokes. Greek comedy and tragedy shared one important feature, however: they sought to make audiences truly think about political issues. Tragedy sought to do this by stressing the moral dilemma of the hero, while comedy did this through satirical jokes.
Religion: The Immortality of Our Gods and Culture
Another famous myth that involved Athens was the battle for the patronage of Athens. The legend goes that Athena and Poseidon both wanted Athens. Although they almost went to war over the city, Athena eventually decided that they should hold a contest for the patronage of Athens. Poseidon created a spring with his trident as his gift to Athens, but the spring was saltwater, so the Athenians realized that the gift was beautiful but useless. Athena instead created the olive tree, which provided the olives as a source of food, olive oil for cooking and burning, and wood for boats and houses. Athena's gift was deemed more useful, and she gained the patronage of, as it was then named, Athens.
Athens has the refined culture that Sparta lacks
Athens has created plays, buildings, pottery and tapestries that are the envy of the world. They have an innovative governing system that allows for people rule and and trial by jury. They have thinkers including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle that changed the way people learned and thought forever, and made advances in political and scientific thought. Hippocrates made major advances in medicine. Athenian legacies will last forever, but Sparta will not be remembered for anything other than its warfare.