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The name of Athens in Ancient Greek was. "The Athenses" since it was originally a group of villages which coalesced into a city. The name has no definite etymology in Greek. The Greeks believed the city was named for its protectress, the goddess Athena, but it is equally probable that the goddess took her name from the city.Athens began its history as a Neolithic hill-fort on top of the Acropolis ("high city"), sometime in the third millennium BC.
Athens was built in the plains of Attika between the Parnitha, Penteli and Hymettos mountains and close to the Saronic Gulf. For
ages its important geographic location and its mild climate were the main reasons why people chose to live here.The city was an amazing place, the largest in Greece. Athens controlled the land around it, a large region called Attika. Between the many mountains were fertile valleys, where farmers grew olives, grain, fruit and grapes. Athens became rich and powerful, helped by
Attika's valuable sources of silver, lead and marble.


From early in the 1st millennium, Athens was a sovereign city-state, ruled at first by kings. The kings stood at the head of a
land-owning aristocracy.First king was Actaeus and the last Kodor.

Democracy and  Reforms:

The Athenian democracy (sometimes called classical democracy) was the democratic system developed in the Greek city-state
of Athens (comprising the central city-state of Athens and its surrounding territory Attica). Athens was one of the very first known democracies and probably the most important in ancient times. Democracy evolved from monarchy to aristocracy to  democracy. The reforms of Solon dealt with both political and economic issues. Politically, Solon divided the Athenians into four classes, based on their wealth and their ability to perform military service. The poorest class, the Thetes, who were the majority of the population, received political rights for the first time, being able to vote in the Assembly, but only the upper classes could hold
political office.

The new system laid the foundations for what eventually became Athenian democracy, but in the short term it failed to quell class conflict, and after 20 years of unrest the popular party led by Peisistratus, a cousin of Solon, seized power (541). Peisistratus is usually called a tyrant, but the Greek word tyrannos does not mean a cruel and despotic ruler, merely one who took power by force. Peisistratus was in fact a very popular ruler, who made Athens wealthy, powerful, and a centre of culture, and founded the Athenian naval supremacy in the Aegean Sea and beyond. He preserved the Solonian constitution, but made sure that he and his family held all the offices of state. Cleisthenes was the one who established democracy in Athen. The reforms of Cleisthenes replaced the traditional four "tribes" (phyle) with ten new ones, named after legendary heroes and having no class basis: they
were in fact electorates. Each tribe was in turn divided into three trittyes while each trittys had one or more demes (see deme) - depending on the population of the demes -, which became the basis of local government. The tribes each elected fifty members to the Boule, a council which governed Athens on a day-to-day basis. The Assembly was open to all citizens.

Athenian life


The poorer Athenians lived in small ,box-like dwellings with few Windows and single door opening on to the street.Town houses were usually one or two storeys high.They were built of bricks and had sloping roofs.


Greek food was simple but the rich made their meals last a long time.

Man vs woman:

In the golden age of Athens, women had few rights. Wives didn't go with husbands to the theater or parties, and couldn't even eat at the same dinner table.Athenian women and girls were kept at home with no participation in sports or politics. Wives were considered property of their husbands. They were responsible for spinning, weaving and other domestic arts.
Prostitutes and courtesans were not confined to the house. Some became influential such as Aspasia.Greek women played an important part in festivals and religious ceremonies but they took no part in politics.They did not belong to the assembly and could not vote.Girls were educated at home by their mothers.Soon after fifteenth birthday a girl was usually married to a man chosen by her parents.Greek wives were kept busy indoors as far away from male strangers and other mischief as possible! Girls received little formal education (except perhaps in the aristocrats' homes through tutors); they were generally kept at home and had no political power in Athens. The education of a girl involved spinning, weaving, and other domestic art.


Men could took part in assembley and also could vote and took part in pilitics. The education of boys was taken much more seriously. Greek boys went to school from the ages of 7 and 14 if their parents could afford to pay.The main subjects of study were Homer´s two long poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey.After school a boy went for  military training.In Athens men became adults at eighteen and for two years had opportunities of service at home and abroad.Then they retired to civilian life but could be called up for military service at any time up to the age of sixty. Schools taught reading, writing and mathematics, music, poetry, sport and gymnastics. Based upon their birth and the wealth of their parents, the length of education was from the age of 5 to 14, for the wealthier 5 - 18 and sometimes into a student's mid-twenties in an academy where they would also study philosophy, ethics, and rhetoric (the skill of persuasive public speaking). Finally, the citizen boys entered a military training camp for two years, until the age of twenty. Foreign metics and slaves were not expected to attain anything but a basic education in Greece, but were not excluded from it either.


Was scratched on a wax pad with a stylus a pointed stick tipped with iron or bone.



• believed gods lived on Mt. Olympus
• resembled human beings
• honored them with festivals & temples

Athena = goddess of wisdom
Aphrodite = goddess of love
Ares = war
Zeus, Hera, Poseidon,

Social Structure of Athens:

Freemen were all male citizens: divided into numerous classes: at the top were aristocrats who had large estates and made up the cavalry or captained triremes; middle ranks were small farmers; lowest class was the thetes (urban craftsmen and trireme rowers). Metics - those who came from outside the city; they were not allowed to own land, but could run industries and
businesses. Slaves were lowest class, but less harshly treated than in most other Greek cities. Slaves had no rights, and an owner could kill a slave. Slaves varied in status: some were given important roles in Athens, like policemen. Women were rarely seen outside the home and had no rights in the Athenian democracy

The Assembly open to all citizens (all citizens were eligible to attend such meetings and speak up). They passed laws and made
policy decisions. The Assembly met on the Hill of the Pnyx at the foot of the Acropoli. In the cities of ancient Greece, the boule was a council of citizens i) appointed to run daily affairs of the city. Originally a council of nobles advising a king, boules evolved according to the constitution of the city; in oligarchies boule positions might be hereditary, while in democracies members were typically chosen by lot, and served for one year.

Athens was a city of craftmen:

Pottery was a particulary important trade.The clay of Attika turns an orange red colour when baked.This is called terracotta.The
Greeks liked to have pots of different shapes and sizes each for a particular purpose.A pot for wine,water....



Draco wrote the first Greek laws in 621 BC. These laws were too harsh. Death penalty common for even small offenses, "Draconian." But, at least they were written down so the people knew what to expect, and justice was not as arbitrary.


In 594 BC aristocrats asked Solon to write a "constitution," a set of written laws. Athens was divided into four classes, based on wealth. It decreased the power of the nobles and increased the power of the merchants, because the people in the highest three classes could hold office. Solon encouraged farmers to grow new crops: olives for oil, and grapes for wine, therefore increasing trade. All citizens had to teach their sons a trade. Citizenship was given to artisans from other cities. Athens became prosperous.


Peisistratus gained control in 546 BC. He was a "good tyrant" because he did improved conditions. He broke up large estates and gave land to the poor, and there were a lot of internal improvements.


Cleisthenes came to power 510 BC. Athens was divided into ten areas called demes (deemz). Fifty men from each were selected to make decisions. All males over 20 could vote in the assembly. Leaders were chosen by lot (names drawn from a pot). People could point out anyone that they thought was a threat - If 6,000 votes were cast against someone, they were "ostrakon"
(ostracized). Athens was now a democratic city-state.

Delian league vs.Peloponnesian league:

Delian league was an alliance of Greek cities.This league was kept on the Island Delos and was set up by Athnes.The league included the Islands of Aegean Sea and most of the coastal cities around it and they had to pay if they wanted to be in this
league.Sparta however kept part.But worried by the growing power of Athens it formed it´s own Peloponnesian League which dominated the Greek mainland.Realising this problem Athenians took precautions.Piraeus the port of Athens is about 6
kilometers from the city so defensive lobg walls were built btw.the two.


In this time the most famous Athenian was leader Pericles a rich well-educated man who was also a fine public speaker.Pericles was ready for war if necessary but he hoped for peace so that he could make Athens the most beautiful city in the world.Pericles helped to organise the rebuilding work together with Ictinus and Callicrates-two architects.On the Acropolis the Partheon a temple to Athena was erected.The Partheon was surronded by other beautiful buildings including a small blue and white temple called

The fall of Athens:

The peloponnesian war btw.Sparta and Athens lasted for 27 years.It divided the Greek btw.two sides because cities had to took part in on side.Pericles was sure that if Athens avoided a battle on land with Spartans and kept control of the sea they would win.Athens was well defended by its long walls down to the port of Piraeus.It was richer than Sparta and so could hold out longer.But Athens had a weakness.It depended on corn supplies from Russia.Should this life-line cut its citizens would starve.Every assembly met during the war was about this vital problem.Early in the war a plague broke out in Athens and Pericles
was one of the many who died from it.The Athenian leader after Pericles did not follow his advice.They fought battles on land in which they were defeated.In the 405 BC the Spartan admiral Lysander smashed the Athenian fleet in a battle in the Hellespont and so cut the city´s corn supply.Spartan troops occupied the city ,destroyed the long walls ,were killing all men and selling the women and children as slaves and reduced the once mighty Athenian navy to twelve ships.For a time the Athenian were ruled by
a Spartan-controlled goverment called The Thirty.But in the following year a more democractic rule returned to Athens.Although Athens never again became as great as befor the war it remained one of the most important cities of Greece.The long wall were rebuilt and trade was brought back to Athens.

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