Agora of Athens was very important in ancient Greece. It was a large open center where the citizens met, and assembled to listen to speeches, or for a wide variety of reasons. On some days it was used as a market, while on other it was used for a theatrical performance, or an election, a military drill or a religious procession. At times it was even used to display an athletic competition.
The Ancient Agora in Athens Promoted the Beginnings of Democracy
The Ancient Agora in Athens was a place where important decisions were made and judicial, political, commercial decisions were made here. Social, cultural and religious activities were also conducted in this place in the heart of Athens. The square was surrounded by public building which conducted the business of Athens. It is through the remains of these buildings and monuments that we can today see the important role of ancient Greece and how the Agora affected the people of Athens.
Important Public Buildings Were Constructed Around the Ancient Agora of Athens
Today, the magistrates offices, the council chamber and archives have been uncovered. But the law courts are displayed through the recovery of bronze ballots and a water clock that was used to time the speeches. We know that the area ws used as a market because artifacts have been found that pertain to cobblers, potters, sculptors and bronze workers.
During it’s heigth there were long stoas or colonnades that covered walkways and offered shade, these were perfect for meeting friends, or discussing politics or business transactions. Philosophers loved the area and came here to discuss their views and opinions. It was the Agora that offered the most knowledge in the ancient Greek world.
The Agora was first used as a burial ground during the Bronze and Iron Age, but was turned into a public area by the 6th century B.C. Then administrative and public buildings were buit around it. There were also sanctuaries built and fresh water flowed into a fountain that was fed by an aqueduct.
In 480 B.C. the city was destroyed by the Persians, but the Athenians were a strong lot and rebuilt the Agora and added more public buildings until the 5th and 4th Centruy B.C.During the classical period of Greece the Agora was often visited by important statesmen like Perikles, Demosthenes, and Themistokles, by poets like Aeschylos, Euripides, Sophokles and writers such as Herodotos, and Thucydides. Even artists like Polygnotos and Pheidias frequented the Agora. Philosophers like Plato, Aristotle and Sokrates made this their meeting ground. These people meeting in this place is what formed and created a great society and a magnificent culture full of art, and poetry. The Agora was a central part of life and it was here that democracy was formed and practiced.
In the Hellenistic period, the world’s power shifted eastward, but still Athens was noteworthy in the areas of philosophy and education. At this time the Academy established by Plato was still important, and the Lyceum founded by Aristotle was still very important. Important figures like Zeno and Kition arrived at the Agora and it was still of import to the Athenian Culture. Athens continued to be of importance through the Roman period when other buildings were added, and then Christianity arrived, and important philosophical schools were closed in the 4th centuryA.D. After which Athens and the Agora suffered damages from invasions and destruction. It was the Herulians in the 3rd century, and then the Visigoths in the 4th. Afterward vandals and slaves had at the Agora dn then it was abandoned for nearly 300 years.
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