The Varvakeion Athena

The Varvakeion Athena


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Varvakeion Athena

The Varvakeion Athena is a Roman-era statue of Athena Parthenos now part of the collection of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. It is generally considered to be the most faithful reproduction of the chryselephantine statue made by Phidias and his assistants, which once stood in the Parthenon. [1] It is dated to 200–250 AD. [2]

The statue is 1.05 m (41 in) tall, approximately one twelfth the estimated height of the original. [2] It is carved of pentelic marble and bears traces of red and yellow paint. Athena is dressed in a peplos belted with a zone in the form of two snakes over this she wears the aegis, decorated with snakes and with the gorgoneion in the center. [2] She wears an Attic helmet with the cheek guards upturned it has three crests, the center sporting a sphinx and those on the sides a pegasus. [1] [2] Her left hand rests on the rim of a shield which also bears the gorgoneion the shield rests against the oikouros ophis (sacred snake) identified with Erichthonios, the city's legendary founder. [1] The outstretched right hand is supported by a column and holds a winged figure of Nike, the head of which is missing. [3] This smaller image is likewise garbed in a peplos and is turned somewhat towards the main figure. [3] The whole assemblage rests on a rectangular base. [2]

Certain differences between the original as described by Pausanias and Pliny may be noted. The original base was decorated with a frieze showing the birth of Pandora, whereas the copy is plain Pausanias also describes a spear which the copy lacks. The shield lacks the amazonomachy on the front which Pliny describes. [2] The presence of the column is cited by many in the argument over whether the original required a similar support, though many reconstructions omit it (e.g. that in the Nashville Parthenon). [3]

The statue is named for the locale of its discovery in 1880, [3] near the original site of the Varvakeion School. [1]


Introduction

Fifth-century Athens is the Greek city-state of Athens in the time from 480 to 404 BC. Formerly known as the Golden Age of Athens, the later part being the Age of Pericles, it was buoyed by political hegemony, economic growth and cultural flourishing. The period began in 478 BC, after the defeat of the Persian invasion, when an Athenian-led coalition of city-states, known as the Delian League, confronted the Persians to keep the liberated Asian Greek cities free. After peace was made with Persia in the mid-5th century BC, what started as an alliance of independent city-states became an Athenian empire after Athens abandoned the pretense of parity among its allies and relocated the Delian League treasury from Delos to Athens, where it funded the building of the Athenian Acropolis, put half its population on the public payroll, and maintained its position as the dominant naval power in the Greek world.

With the empire’s funds, military dominance and its political fortunes guided by statesman and orator Pericles, Athens produced some of the most influential and enduring cultural artifacts of the Western tradition. The playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides all lived and worked in 5th-century BC Athens, as did the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, the physician Hippocrates and the philosophers Plato and Socrates. Athens’s patron goddess was Athena, from whom it derived the name.


76 pictures related to this museum

Aegina, Tombstone of a young man, holding a bird

Corinth, Relief of a hoplite

Alexandria, Hephaestion (part of a group with Alexander)

Epidauros, Temple of Artemis, Nike

Piraeus, Julian the Apostate

Lebadeia, Relief of Trophonius

Eretria, Gymnasium, Statue of Cleonicus

Olympia, Head of the boxer Satyros

Pharsalus, Krater with a four-horse chariot

The fight for the body of Patroclus.

Argos, Heraion, West pediment, Head of Hera

Argos, Heraion, West pediment, Palladion

Sparta, Statue of Julia Aquilia Severa, damaged after her death

Athens, Kerameikos, Base of the statue of a wrestler

Akrotiri, Building B, Room B1, Wall painting of antelopes

Piraeus, Head of a bearded god

Smyrna, Portrait of Caligula, reworked to resemble Titus

Eleusis, Tombstone of a warrior

Mycene, House of the Warrior Krater, Warrior Krater

Piraeus, Funerary stela of Damasistrate

Chalcis-Vromousa, Head of a woman (Roman copy of a Greek original)

Gomphoi, Relief of Odysseus and Amphicleia

Piraeus, Theater, Head of Dionysus (classicizing)

Lemnos, Tombstone of an Etruscan (?) warrior

Megara, Statue of Dionysus

Mycene, Wall painting ("La Parisienne")

Eretria, Lekythos (Bosanquet Painter)

Megara, Statue of a Roman emperor (Trajan or Hadrian)

Larisa, Tombstone of Polyxena

Athens, Statue of a Minotaur

Athens, Kerameikos, Alexander with a Lion's Pelt

Dodona, Figurine of Zeus Keraunos

Lycian portrait of Omphale

Eleusis, Relief of Demeter, Triptolemus, and Kore

Aegina, Ptolemy VI Philometor

Athens, Pnyx, Lenormant Athena

Athens, Agora, Late Geometric pyxis

Corinth, Plate with Demeter

Athens, Temple of Zeus, Portrait of Polemo of Laodicea

Aegina, Temple of Apollo, Statue of a wounded warrior

Piraeus, Statue of a woman or Demeter

Eleusis, Relief of a drunk Heracles

Mycene, Wall painting of a griffin with a warrior

Akrotiri, Building B, Room B1, Wall painting of boxers

Nysa, Bouleuterion, "Little Refugee"

Athens, Kerameikos, Dipylon krater

Argos, Relief of the Doryphorus of Polykleitos

Thebes (?), Block statue of Prince Horwedja, governor and high priest in Heliopolis


Contents

In Ancient Greek, the name of the city was Ἀθῆναι (Athênai, pronounced [atʰɛ̂ːnai̯] in Classical Attic) a plural. In earlier Greek, such as Homeric Greek, the name had been current in the singular form though, as Ἀθήνη (Athḗnē). [23] It was possibly rendered in the plural later on, like those of Θῆβαι (Thêbai) and Μυκῆναι (Μukênai). The root of the word is probably not of Greek or Indo-European origin, [24] and is possibly a remnant of the Pre-Greek substrate of Attica. [24] In antiquity, it was debated whether Athens took its name from its patron goddess Athena (Attic Ἀθηνᾶ , Athēnâ, Ionic Ἀθήνη , Athḗnē, and Doric Ἀθάνα , Athā́nā) or Athena took her name from the city. [25] Modern scholars now generally agree that the goddess takes her name from the city, [25] because the ending -ene is common in names of locations, but rare for personal names. [25]

According to the ancient Athenian founding myth, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, competed against Poseidon, the God of the Seas, for patronage of the yet-unnamed city [26] they agreed that whoever gave the Athenians the better gift would become their patron [26] and appointed Cecrops, the king of Athens, as the judge. [26] According to the account given by Pseudo-Apollodorus, Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a salt water spring welled up. [26] In an alternative version of the myth from Vergil's Georgics, Poseidon instead gave the Athenians the first horse. [26] In both versions, Athena offered the Athenians the first domesticated olive tree. [26] [27] Cecrops accepted this gift [26] and declared Athena the patron goddess of Athens. [26] [27] Eight different etymologies, now commonly rejected, were proposed during the 17th century. [ citation needed ] Christian Lobeck proposed as the root of the name the word ἄθος (áthos) or ἄνθος (ánthos) meaning "flower", to denote Athens as the "flowering city". Ludwig von Döderlein proposed the stem of the verb θάω , stem θη- (tháō, thē-, "to suck") to denote Athens as having fertile soil. [28] Athenians were called cicada-wearers (Ancient Greek: Τεττιγοφόροι ) because they used to wear pins of golden cicadas. A symbol of being autochthon (earth-born), because the legendary founder of Athens, Erechtheus was an autochthon or of being musicians, because the cicada is a "musician" insect. [29] In classical literature, the city was sometimes referred to as the City of the Violet Crown, first documented in Pindar's ἰοστέφανοι Ἀθᾶναι (iostéphanoi Athânai), or as τὸ κλεινὸν ἄστυ (tò kleinòn ásty, "the glorious city").

During the medieval period, the name of the city was rendered once again in the singular as Ἀθήνα . Variant names included Setines, Satine, and Astines, all derivations involving false splitting of prepositional phrases. [30] King Alphonse X of Castile gives the pseudo-etymology 'the one without death/ignorance'. [31] [ page needed ] In Ottoman Turkish, it was called آتينا Ātīnā, [32] and in modern Turkish, it is Atina.

After the establishment of the modern Greek state, and partly due to the conservatism of the written language, Ἀθῆναι [aˈθine] again became the official name of the city and remained so until the abandonment of Katharevousa in the 1970s, when Ἀθήνα, Athína, became the official name. Today it is often simply called η πρωτεύουσα ī protévousa 'the capital'.

The oldest known human presence in Athens is the Cave of Schist, which has been dated to between the 11th and 7th millennia BC. [6] Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 5,000 years. [33] [34] By 1400 BC, the settlement had become an important centre of the Mycenaean civilization, and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress, whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls. [35] Unlike other Mycenaean centers, such as Mycenae and Pylos, it is not known whether Athens suffered destruction in about 1200 BC, an event often attributed to a Dorian invasion, and the Athenians always maintained that they were pure Ionians with no Dorian element. However, Athens, like many other Bronze Age settlements, went into economic decline for around 150 years afterwards.

Iron Age burials, in the Kerameikos and other locations, are often richly provided for and demonstrate that from 900 BC onwards Athens was one of the leading centres of trade and prosperity in the region. [36] The leading position of Athens may well have resulted from its central location in the Greek world, its secure stronghold on the Acropolis and its access to the sea, which gave it a natural advantage over inland rivals such as Thebes and Sparta.

By the 6th century BC, widespread social unrest led to the reforms of Solon. These would pave the way for the eventual introduction of democracy by Cleisthenes in 508 BC. Athens had by this time become a significant naval power with a large fleet, and helped the rebellion of the Ionian cities against Persian rule. In the ensuing Greco-Persian Wars Athens, together with Sparta, led the coalition of Greek states that would eventually repel the Persians, defeating them decisively at Marathon in 490 BC, and crucially at Salamis in 480 BC. However, this did not prevent Athens from being captured and sacked twice by the Persians within one year, after a heroic but ultimately failed resistance at Thermopylae by Spartans and other Greeks led by King Leonidas, [37] after both Boeotia and Attica fell to the Persians.

The decades that followed became known as the Golden Age of Athenian democracy, during which time Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece, with its cultural achievements laying the foundations for Western civilization. The playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides flourished in Athens during this time, as did the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, the physician Hippocrates, and the philosopher Socrates. Guided by Pericles, who promoted the arts and fostered democracy, Athens embarked on an ambitious building program that saw the construction of the Acropolis of Athens (including the Parthenon), as well as empire-building via the Delian League. Originally intended as an association of Greek city-states to continue the fight against the Persians, the league soon turned into a vehicle for Athens's own imperial ambitions. The resulting tensions brought about the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), in which Athens was defeated by its rival Sparta.

By the mid-4th century BC, the northern Greek kingdom of Macedon was becoming dominant in Athenian affairs. In 338 BC the armies of Philip II defeated an alliance of some of the Greek city-states including Athens and Thebes at the Battle of Chaeronea, effectively ending Athenian independence. Later, under Rome, Athens was given the status of a free city because of its widely admired schools. The Roman emperor Hadrian, in the 2nd century AD, ordered the construction of a library, a gymnasium, an aqueduct which is still in use, several temples and sanctuaries, a bridge and financed the completion of the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

By the end of Late Antiquity, Athens had shrunk due to sacks by the Herulians, Visigoths, and Early Slavs which caused massive destruction in the city. In this era, the first Christian churches were built in Athens, and the Parthenon and other temples were converted into churches. Athens expanded its settlement in the second half of the Middle Byzantine Period, in the 9th to 10th centuries AD, and was relatively prosperous during the Crusades, benefiting from Italian trade. After the Fourth Crusade the Duchy of Athens was established. In 1458 it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and entered a long period of decline.

Following the Greek War of Independence and the establishment of the Greek Kingdom, Athens was chosen as the capital of the newly independent Greek state in 1834, largely because of historical and sentimental reasons. At the time, it was reduced to a town of about 4,000 people in a loose swarm of houses along the foot of the Acropolis. The first King of Greece, Otto of Bavaria, commissioned the architects Stamatios Kleanthis and Eduard Schaubert to design a modern city plan fit for the capital of a state.

The first modern city plan consisted of a triangle defined by the Acropolis, the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos and the new palace of the Bavarian king (now housing the Greek Parliament), so as to highlight the continuity between modern and ancient Athens. Neoclassicism, the international style of this epoch, was the architectural style through which Bavarian, French and Greek architects such as Hansen, Klenze, Boulanger or Kaftantzoglou designed the first important public buildings of the new capital. In 1896, Athens hosted the first modern Olympic Games. During the 1920s a number of Greek refugees, expelled from Asia Minor after the Greco-Turkish War and Greek genocide, swelled Athens's population nevertheless it was most particularly following World War II, and from the 1950s and 1960s, that the population of the city exploded, and Athens experienced a gradual expansion.

In the 1980s it became evident that smog from factories and an ever-increasing fleet of automobiles, as well as a lack of adequate free space due to congestion, had evolved into the city's most important challenge. A series of anti-pollution measures taken by the city's authorities in the 1990s, combined with a substantial improvement of the city's infrastructure (including the Attiki Odos motorway, the expansion of the Athens Metro, and the new Athens International Airport), considerably alleviated pollution and transformed Athens into a much more functional city. In 2004 Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Tondo of the Aison Cup, showing the victory of Theseus over the Minotaur in the presence of Athena. Theseus was responsible, according to the myth, for the synoikismos ("dwelling together")—the political unification of Attica under Athens.

The earliest coinage of Athens, c. 545–525/15 BC

Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Athens during the rule of the de la Roche family (13th century)

The Roman Agora and the Gate of Athena in Plaka district.

The Entry of King Otto in Athens, Peter von Hess, 1839.

The Stadiou Street in Central Athens in 1908.

Athens sprawls across the central plain of Attica that is often referred to as the Athens Basin or the Attica Basin (Greek: Λεκανοπέδιο Αθηνών/Αττικής ). The basin is bounded by four large mountains: Mount Aigaleo to the west, Mount Parnitha to the north, Mount Pentelicus to the northeast and Mount Hymettus to the east. [38] Beyond Mount Aegaleo lies the Thriasian plain, which forms an extension of the central plain to the west. The Saronic Gulf lies to the southwest. Mount Parnitha is the tallest of the four mountains (1,413 m (4,636 ft)), [39] and has been declared a national park. The city is located in the north temperate zone, 38 degrees north of the equator.

Athens is built around a number of hills. Lycabettus is one of the tallest hills of the city proper and provides a view of the entire Attica Basin. The meteorology of Athens is deemed to be one of the most complex in the world because its mountains cause a temperature inversion phenomenon which, along with the Greek Government's difficulties controlling industrial pollution, was responsible for the air pollution problems the city has faced. [34] This issue is not unique to Athens for instance, Los Angeles and Mexico City also suffer from similar atmospheric inversion problems. [34]

The Cephissus river, the Ilisos and the Eridanos stream are the historical rivers of Athens.

Environment Edit

By the late 1970s, the pollution of Athens had become so destructive that according to the then Greek Minister of Culture, Constantine Trypanis, ". the carved details on the five the caryatids of the Erechtheum had seriously degenerated, while the face of the horseman on the Parthenon's west side was all but obliterated." [40] A series of measures taken by the authorities of the city throughout the 1990s resulted in the improvement of air quality the appearance of smog (or nefos as the Athenians used to call it) has become less common.

Measures taken by the Greek authorities throughout the 1990s have improved the quality of air over the Attica Basin. Nevertheless, air pollution still remains an issue for Athens, particularly during the hottest summer days. In late June 2007, [41] the Attica region experienced a number of brush fires, [41] including a blaze that burned a significant portion of a large forested national park in Mount Parnitha, [42] considered critical to maintaining a better air quality in Athens all year round. [41] Damage to the park has led to worries over a stalling in the improvement of air quality in the city. [41]

The major waste management efforts undertaken in the last decade (particularly the plant built on the small island of Psytalia) have greatly improved water quality in the Saronic Gulf, and the coastal waters of Athens are now accessible again to swimmers. In January 2007, Athens faced a waste management problem when its landfill near Ano Liosia, an Athenian suburb, reached capacity. [43] The crisis eased by mid-January when authorities began taking the garbage to a temporary landfill. [43]

Safety Edit

Athens ranks in the lowest percentage for the risk on frequency and severity of terrorist attacks according to the EU Global Terrorism Database (EIU 2007–2016 calculations). The city also ranked 35th in Digital Security, 21st on Health Security, 29th on Infrastructure Security and 41st on Personal Security globally in a 2017 The Economist Intelligence Unit report. [44] It also ranks as a very safe city (39th globally out of 162 cities overall) on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries. [45] A 2019 crime index from Numbeo places Athens at 130th position, rating safer than Tampa, Florida or Dublin, Ireland. [46] According to a Mercer 2019 Quality of Living Survey, Athens ranks 89th on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranking. [47]

Climate Edit

Athens has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa). The dominant feature of Athens' climate is alternation between prolonged hot and dry summers because of the dry and hot winds blowing from the Sahara, and mild, wetter winters with moderate rainfall, due to the westerly winds. [48] With an average of 451 millimetres (17.8 in) of yearly precipitation, rainfall occurs largely between the months of October and April. July and August are the driest months when thunderstorms occur sparsely. Furthermore, some coastal areas of Athens, known as the Athens Riviera have a hot semi-arid climate (BSh) according to the climate atlas published by the Hellenic National Meteorological Service. [49] However, places like Elliniko, which are classified as hot semi deserts(köppen Bsh), because of the low annual rainfall, haven't recorded temperatures so high as in other places in the city. This happens because of the moderating sea and the fact that there is no such industrialization there, compared to other regions of the city.

Owing to the rain shadow of the Pindus Mountains, annual precipitation of Athens is lower than most other parts of Greece, especially western Greece. As an example, Ioannina receives around 1,300 mm (51 in) per year, and Agrinio around 800 mm (31 in) per year. Daily average highs for July have been measured around 34 °C or 93 °F in downtown Athens, but some parts of the city may be even hotter for the higher density of buildings, and the lower density of vegetation, such as the center, [50] in particular, western areas due to a combination of industrialization and a number of natural factors, knowledge of which has existed since the mid-19th century. [51] [52] [53] Due to the large area covered by Athens Metropolitan Area, there are notable climatic differences between parts of the urban conglomeration. The northern suburbs tend to be wetter and cooler in winter, whereas the southern suburbs are some of the driest locations in Greece and record very high minimum temperatures in summer. Snowfall is infrequent and it generally occurs once a year. The last time snow fell in Athens was 16 February 2021 snow blanketed the city from the north to the very south suburbs with depth ranges from 10 cm to 25 cm.

Athens is affected by the urban heat island effect in some areas which is caused by human activity, [54] [55] altering its temperatures compared to the surrounding rural areas, [56] [57] [58] [59] and leaving detrimental effects on energy usage, expenditure for cooling, [60] [61] and health. [55] The urban heat island of the city has also been found to be partially responsible for alterations of the climatological temperature time-series of specific Athens meteorological stations, because of its impact on the temperatures and the temperature trends recorded by some meteorological stations. [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] On the other hand, specific meteorological stations, such as the National Garden station and Thiseio meteorological station, are less affected or do not experience the urban heat island. [56] [67]

Athens holds the World Meteorological Organization record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe, at 48 °C (118.4 °F), which was recorded in the Elefsina and Tatoi suburbs of Athens on 10 July 1977. [68]

Climate data for Elliniko, Athens (1955–2010), Extremes (1961–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.4
(72.3)
24.2
(75.6)
27.0
(80.6)
30.9
(87.6)
35.6
(96.1)
40.0
(104.0)
42.0
(107.6)
41.8
(107.2)
37.2
(99.0)
35.2
(95.4)
27.2
(81.0)
22.9
(73.2)
42.0
(107.6)
Average high °C (°F) 13.6
(56.5)
14.1
(57.4)
15.9
(60.6)
19.6
(67.3)
24.4
(75.9)
29.2
(84.6)
32.2
(90.0)
32.2
(90.0)
28.3
(82.9)
23.4
(74.1)
18.8
(65.8)
15.1
(59.2)
22.2
(72.0)
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.3
(50.5)
10.6
(51.1)
12.4
(54.3)
16.1
(61.0)
20.9
(69.6)
25.6
(78.1)
28.3
(82.9)
28.2
(82.8)
24.3
(75.7)
19.6
(67.3)
15.4
(59.7)
11.9
(53.4)
18.6
(65.5)
Average low °C (°F) 7.0
(44.6)
7.1
(44.8)
8.5
(47.3)
11.5
(52.7)
15.8
(60.4)
20.3
(68.5)
23.0
(73.4)
23.1
(73.6)
19.6
(67.3)
15.7
(60.3)
12.0
(53.6)
8.8
(47.8)
14.4
(57.9)
Record low °C (°F) −2.9
(26.8)
−4.2
(24.4)
−2.0
(28.4)
0.6
(33.1)
8.0
(46.4)
11.4
(52.5)
15.5
(59.9)
12.4
(54.3)
10.4
(50.7)
3.0
(37.4)
1.4
(34.5)
−1.8
(28.8)
−4.2
(24.4)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 47.7
(1.88)
38.5
(1.52)
42.3
(1.67)
25.5
(1.00)
14.3
(0.56)
5.4
(0.21)
6.3
(0.25)
6.2
(0.24)
12.3
(0.48)
45.9
(1.81)
60.1
(2.37)
62.0
(2.44)
366.5
(14.43)
Average rainy days 12.9 11.4 11.3 9.3 6.4 3.6 1.7 1.6 4.7 8.6 10.9 13.5 95.9
Average relative humidity (%) 69.3 68.0 65.9 62.2 58.2 51.8 46.6 46.8 54.0 62.6 69.2 70.4 60.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 130.2 134.4 182.9 231.0 291.4 336.0 362.7 341.0 276.0 207.7 153.0 127.1 2,773.4
Source 1: HNMS (1955–2010 normals) [69]
Source 2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (Extremes 1961–1990), [70] Info Climat (Extremes 1991–present) [71] [72]
Climate data for Nea Filadelfia, Athens (1955–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 12.6
(54.7)
13.6
(56.5)
16.0
(60.8)
20.3
(68.5)
26.2
(79.2)
31.4
(88.5)
33.8
(92.8)
33.6
(92.5)
29.2
(84.6)
23.5
(74.3)
18.1
(64.6)
14.1
(57.4)
22.7
(72.9)
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.8
(47.8)
9.3
(48.7)
11.3
(52.3)
15.3
(59.5)
21.0
(69.8)
26.0
(78.8)
28.3
(82.9)
27.8
(82.0)
23.4
(74.1)
18.4
(65.1)
13.7
(56.7)
10.2
(50.4)
17.8
(64.0)
Average low °C (°F) 5.4
(41.7)
5.5
(41.9)
6.9
(44.4)
9.9
(49.8)
14.2
(57.6)
18.7
(65.7)
21.3
(70.3)
21.2
(70.2)
17.6
(63.7)
13.8
(56.8)
10.0
(50.0)
6.9
(44.4)
12.6
(54.7)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 53.9
(2.12)
43.0
(1.69)
41.8
(1.65)
28.5
(1.12)
20.5
(0.81)
9.1
(0.36)
7.0
(0.28)
6.7
(0.26)
19.4
(0.76)
48.8
(1.92)
61.9
(2.44)
71.2
(2.80)
411.8
(16.21)
Average precipitation days 12.0 10.6 10.2 8.3 5.8 3.4 1.9 1.6 4.1 7.4 10.1 12.5 87.9
Average relative humidity (%) 74.4 72.0 68.4 61.7 53.4 45.7 42.9 45.4 54.6 66.1 74.5 76.2 61.3
Source: HNMS [73]
Climate data for Downtown Athens (2001–2020), Extremes (1890–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.6
(72.7)
25.3
(77.5)
28.9
(84.0)
32.2
(90.0)
38.4
(101.1)
44.8
(112.6)
43.0
(109.4)
42.6
(108.7)
38.6
(101.5)
36.5
(97.7)
30.5
(86.9)
22.9
(73.2)
44.8
(112.6)
Average high °C (°F) 13.6
(56.5)
14.5
(58.1)
17.7
(63.9)
21.4
(70.5)
26.8
(80.2)
31.7
(89.1)
34.8
(94.6)
34.8
(94.6)
29.9
(85.8)
24.4
(75.9)
19.4
(66.9)
14.7
(58.5)
23.6
(74.5)
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.5
(50.9)
11.2
(52.2)
13.8
(56.8)
17.1
(62.8)
22.1
(71.8)
26.8
(80.2)
29.8
(85.6)
29.9
(85.8)
25.4
(77.7)
20.5
(68.9)
16.0
(60.8)
11.8
(53.2)
19.6
(67.3)
Average low °C (°F) 7.4
(45.3)
7.8
(46.0)
10.0
(50.0)
12.7
(54.9)
17.4
(63.3)
21.9
(71.4)
24.8
(76.6)
25.0
(77.0)
20.8
(69.4)
16.5
(61.7)
12.6
(54.7)
8.9
(48.0)
15.5
(59.9)
Record low °C (°F) −6.5
(20.3)
−5.7
(21.7)
−2.6
(27.3)
1.7
(35.1)
6.2
(43.2)
11.8
(53.2)
16
(61)
15.5
(59.9)
8.9
(48.0)
5.9
(42.6)
−1.1
(30.0)
−4.0
(24.8)
−6.5
(20.3)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 57.5
(2.26)
50.0
(1.97)
38.6
(1.52)
26.6
(1.05)
19.8
(0.78)
14.7
(0.58)
11.4
(0.45)
4.9
(0.19)
36.6
(1.44)
41.0
(1.61)
67.0
(2.64)
82.7
(3.26)
450.8
(17.75)
Source: Meteoclub [74]

Locations Edit

Neighbourhoods of the Center of Athens (Municipality of Athens) Edit

The Municipality of Athens, the City Centre of the Athens Urban Area, is divided into several districts: Omonoia, Syntagma, Exarcheia, Agios Nikolaos, Neapolis, Lykavittos, Lofos Strefi, Lofos Finopoulou, Lofos Filopappou, Pedion Areos, Metaxourgeio, Aghios Kostantinos, Larissa Station, Kerameikos, Psiri, Monastiraki, Gazi, Thission, Kapnikarea, Aghia Irini, Aerides, Anafiotika, Plaka, Acropolis, Pnyka, Makrygianni, Lofos Ardittou, Zappeion, Aghios Spyridon, Pangrati, Kolonaki, Dexameni, Evaggelismos, Gouva, Aghios Ioannis, Neos Kosmos, Koukaki, Kynosargous, Fix, Ano Petralona, Kato Petralona, Rouf, Votanikos, Profitis Daniil, Akadimia Platonos, Kolonos, Kolokynthou, Attikis Square, Lofos Skouze, Sepolia, Kypseli, Aghios Meletios, Nea Kypseli, Gyzi, Polygono, Ampelokipoi, Panormou-Gerokomeio, Pentagono, Ellinorosson, Nea Filothei, Ano Kypseli, Tourkovounia-Lofos Patatsou, Lofos Elikonos, Koliatsou, Thymarakia, Kato Patisia, Treis Gefyres, Aghios Eleftherios, Ano Patisia, Kypriadou, Menidi, Prompona, Aghios Panteleimonas, Pangrati, Goudi, Vyronas and Ilisia.

    Omonoia, Omonoia Square, (Greek: Πλατεία Ομονοίας ) is the oldest square in Athens. It is surrounded by hotels and fast food outlets, and contains a metro station, named Omonia station. The square is the focus for celebration of sporting victories, as seen after the country's winning of the Euro 2004 and the EuroBasket 2005 tournaments.

Parks and zoos Edit

Parnitha National Park is punctuated by well-marked paths, gorges, springs, torrents and caves dotting the protected area. Hiking and mountain-biking in all four mountains are popular outdoor activities for residents of the city. The National Garden of Athens was completed in 1840 and is a green refuge of 15.5 hectares in the centre of the Greek capital. It is to be found between the Parliament and Zappeion buildings, the latter of which maintains its own garden of seven hectares.

Parts of the City Centre have been redeveloped under a masterplan called the Unification of Archeological Sites of Athens, which has also gathered funding from the EU to help enhance the project. [76] [77] The landmark Dionysiou Areopagitou Street has been pedestrianised, forming a scenic route. The route starts from the Temple of Olympian Zeus at Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, continues under the southern slopes of the Acropolis near Plaka, and finishes just beyond the Temple of Hephaestus in Thiseio. The route in its entirety provides visitors with views of the Parthenon and the Agora (the meeting point of ancient Athenians), away from the busy City Centre.

The hills of Athens also provide green space. Lycabettus, Philopappos hill and the area around it, including Pnyx and Ardettos hill, are planted with pines and other trees, with the character of a small forest rather than typical metropolitan parkland. Also to be found is the Pedion tou Areos (Field of Mars) of 27.7 hectares, near the National Archaeological Museum.

Athens' largest zoo is the Attica Zoological Park, a 20-hectare (49-acre) private zoo located in the suburb of Spata. The zoo is home to around 2000 animals representing 400 species, and is open 365 days a year. Smaller zoos exist within public gardens or parks, such as the zoo within the National Garden of Athens.

Urban and suburban municipalities Edit

The Athens city coastline, extending from the major commercial port of Piraeus to the southernmost suburb of Varkiza for some 25 km (20 mi), [78] is also connected to the City Centre by tram.

In the northern suburb of Maroussi, the upgraded main Olympic Complex (known by its Greek acronym OAKA) dominates the skyline. The area has been redeveloped according to a design by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, with steel arches, landscaped gardens, fountains, futuristic glass, and a landmark new blue glass roof which was added to the main stadium. A second Olympic complex, next to the sea at the beach of Palaio Faliro, also features modern stadia, shops and an elevated esplanade. Work is underway to transform the grounds of the old Athens Airport – named Elliniko – in the southern suburbs, into one of the largest landscaped parks in Europe, to be named the Hellenikon Metropolitan Park. [79]

Many of the southern suburbs (such as Alimos, Palaio Faliro, Elliniko, Glyfada, Voula, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza) known as the Athens Riviera, host a number of sandy beaches, most of which are operated by the Greek National Tourism Organisation and require an entrance fee. Casinos operate on both Mount Parnitha, some 25 km (16 mi) [80] from downtown Athens (accessible by car or cable car), and the nearby town of Loutraki (accessible by car via the Athens – Corinth National Highway, or the suburban rail service Proastiakos).

The large City Centre (Greek: Κέντρο της Αθήνας ) of the Greek capital falls directly within the Municipality of Athens or Athens Municipality (Greek: Δήμος Αθηναίων )—also City of Athens. Athens Municipality is the largest in population size in Greece. Piraeus is the second largest in population size within the Athens Urban Area, with Peristeri, Kallithea, Acharnes and Kypseli following.

Athens Urban Area Edit

The Athens Urban Area (Greek: Πολεοδομικό Συγκρότημα Αθηνών ), also known as Urban Area of the Capital (Greek: Πολεοδομικό Συγκρότημα Πρωτεύουσας ) or Greater Athens (Greek: Ευρύτερη Αθήνα ), [81] today consists of 40 municipalities, 35 of which make up what was referred to as the former Athens Prefecture municipalities, located within 4 regional units (North Athens, West Athens, Central Athens, South Athens) and a further 5 municipalities, which make up the former Piraeus Prefecture municipalities, located within the regional unit of Piraeus as mentioned above. The densely built up urban area of the Greek capital sprawls across 412 km 2 (159 sq mi) [17] throughout the Attica Basin and has a total population of 3,074,160 (in 2011).

The Athens Municipality forms the core and center of Greater Athens, which in its turn consists of the Athens Municipality and 40 more municipalities, divided in four regional units (Central, North, South and West Athens), accounting for 2,641,511 people (in 2011) [2] within an area of 361 km 2 (139 sq mi). [17] Until 2010, which made up the abolished Athens Prefecture and the municipality of Piraeus, the historic Athenian port, with 4 other municipalities make up the regional unit of Piraeus.

The regional units of Central Athens, North Athens, South Athens, West Athens and Piraeus with part of East [82] and West Attica [83] regional units combined make up the continuous Athens Urban Area, [83] [84] [85] also called the "Urban Area of the Capital" or simply "Athens" (the most common use of the term), spanning over 412 km 2 (159 sq mi), [86] with a population of 3,090,508 people as of 2011. The Athens Urban Area is considered to form the city of Athens as a whole, despite its administrative divisions, which is the largest in Greece and one of the most populated urban areas in Europe.

Athens Metropolitan Area Edit

The Athens Metropolitan Area (Greek: Μητροπολιτική Περιοχή της Αθήνας ) spans 2,928.717 km 2 (1,131 sq mi) within the Attica region and includes a total of 58 municipalities, which are organized in seven regional units (those outlined above, along with East Attica and West Attica), having reached a population of 3,737,550 based on the preliminary results of the 2011 census. Athens and Piraeus municipalities serve as the two metropolitan centres of the Athens Metropolitan Area. [87] There are also some inter-municipal centres serving specific areas. For example, Kifissia and Glyfada serve as inter-municipal centres for northern and southern suburbs respectively.

Population in modern times Edit

The Municipality of Athens has an official population of 664,046 people. [2] The four regional units that make up what is referred to as Greater Athens have a combined population of 2,640,701. They together with the regional unit of Piraeus (Greater Piraeus) make up the dense Athens Urban Area which reaches a total population of 3,090,508 inhabitants (in 2011). [19] According to Eurostat, in 2013 the functional urban area of Athens had 3,828,434 inhabitants, being apparently decreasing compared with the pre-economic crisis date of 2009 (4,164,175) [20]

The municipality (Center) of Athens is the most populous in Greece, with a population of 664,046 people (in 2011) [2] and an area of 38.96 km 2 (15.04 sq mi), [16] forming the core of the Athens Urban Area within the Attica Basin. The incumbent Mayor of Athens is Kostas Bakoyannis of New Democracy. The municipality is divided into seven municipal districts which are mainly used for administrative purposes.

As of the 2011 census, the population for each of the seven municipal districts of Athens is as follows: [88]

  • 1st: 75,810
  • 2nd: 103,004
  • 3rd: 46,508
  • 4th: 85,629
  • 5th: 98,665
  • 6th: 130,582
  • 7th: 123,848

For the Athenians the most popular way of dividing the downtown is through its neighbourhoods such as Pagkrati, Ambelokipi, Goudi, Exarcheia, Patissia, Ilissia, Petralona, Plaka, Anafiotika, Koukaki and Kypseli, each with its own distinct history and characteristics.

Population of the Athens Metropolitan Area Edit

The Athens Metropolitan Area, with an area of 2,928.717 km 2 (1,131 sq mi) and inhabited by 3,753,783 people in 2011, [2] consists of the Athens Urban Area with the addition of the towns and villages of East and West Attica, which surround the dense urban area of the Greek capital. It actually sprawls over the whole peninsula of Attica, which is the best part of the region of Attica, excluding the islands.

Classification of regional units within Greater Athens, Athens Urban Area and Athens Metropolitan Area
Regional unit Population (2011)
Central Athens 1,029,520 Greater Athens
2,641,511
Athens Urban Area
3,090,508
Athens Metropolitan Area
3,753,783
North Athens 592,490
South Athens 529,826
West Athens 489,675
Piraeus 448,997 Greater Piraeus
448,997
East Attica 502,348
West Attica 160,927

Population in ancient times Edit

Mycenean Athens in 1600–1100 BC could have equalled the size of Tiryns, with an estimated population of up to 10,000–15,000. [89] During the Greek Dark Ages the population of Athens was around 4,000 people, rising to an estimated 10,000 by 700 BC.

During the Classical period Athens denotes both the urban area of the city proper and its subject territory (the Athenian city-state) extending across most of the modern Attica region except the territory of the city-state of Megaris and the island section. In 500 BC the Athenian territory probably contained around 200,000 people. Thucydides indicates a 5th-century total of 150,000-350,000 and up to 610,000. A census ordered by Demetrius of Phalerum in 317 BC is said to have recorded 21,000 free citizens, 10,000 resident aliens and 400,000 slaves, a total population of 431,000, [90] but this figure is highly suspect because of the improbably high number of slaves and does not include free women and children and resident foreigners. An estimate based on Thucydides is 40,000 male citizens, 100,000 family members, 70,000 metics (resident foreigners) and 150,000-400,000 slaves, though modern historians again hesitate to take such high numbers at face value, most estimates now preferring a total in the 200–350,000 range. The urban area of Athens proper (excluding the port of Piraeus) covered less than a thousandth of the area of the city-state, though its population density was of course far higher: modern estimates for the population of the built-up area tend to indicate around 35–45,000 inhabitants, though uncertainties persist around density of occupation, household size and whether there was a significant suburban population beyond the walls.

The ancient site of the main city is centred on the rocky hill of the acropolis. In the whole of Athenian territory they existed many towns. Acharnae, Afidnes, Cytherus, Colonus, Corydallus, Cropia, Decelea, Euonymos, Vravron among others was important towns in Athenian countryside. The new port of Piraeus was a prototype harbour with the infrastructure and housing located in the site between modern passenger section of the port (named Kantharos in ancient times) and the Pasalimani harbour (named Zea in ancient times). The old one Phaliro was in the site of modern Palaio Faliro and gradually declined after the construction of the new prototype port but remained as a minor port and important settlement with historic significance in late Classical times. The rapid expansion of the modern city, which continues to this day, took off with industrial growth in the 1950s and 1960s. [91] The expansion is now particularly toward the East and North East (a tendency greatly related to the new Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport and the Attiki Odos, the freeway that cuts across Attica). By this process Athens has engulfed many former suburbs and villages in Attica, and continues to do so. The table below shows the historical population of Athens in recent times.

Year Municipality population Urban population Metro population
1833 4,000 [92]
1870 44,500 [92]
1896 123,000 [92]
1921 (Pre-Population exchange) 473,000 [34]
1921 (Post-Population exchange) 718,000 [92]
1971 867,023 2,540,241 [93]
1981 885,737 3,369,443
1991 772,072 3,444,358 3,523,407 [94]
2001 745,514 [95] 3,165,823 [95] 3,761,810 [95]
2011 664,046 3,181,872 3,753,783 [19]

Religion Edit

Athens became the capital of Greece in 1834, following Nafplion, which was the provisional capital from 1829. The municipality (City) of Athens is also the capital of the Attica region. The term Athens can refer either to the Municipality of Athens, to Greater Athens or urban area, or to the entire Athens Metropolitan Area.

The Athens City Hall in Kotzia Square was designed by Panagiotis Kolkas and completed in 1874. [97]

International relations and influence Edit

Twin towns – sister cities Edit

Partnerships Edit

Other locations named after Athens Edit

    (pop. 24,234) [109] (pop. 9,101) (pop. 114,983) (pop. 1,726) (pop. 2,620) (pop. 2,620) (pop. 262) (pop. 74) (pop. 847) (pop. 1,111) (pop. 2,571) (pop. 2,322) (pop. 3,991) (pop. 1,695) (pop. 21,909) (pop. 62,223) (pop. 27,714) (pop. 520) (pop. 342) (pop. 1,270) (pop. 3,415) (pop. 5,058) (pop. 775) (pop. 13,220) (pop. 11,297) (pop. 340) (pop. 1,102) (pop. 1,095)

Athens is the financial capital of Greece. According to data from 2014, Athens as a metropolitan economic area produced 130 billion US-dollars as GDP in PPP, which consists nearly a half of the production for the whole country. In the list with the strongest economic metropoles of the world Athens was ranked that year 102nd, while the GDP per capita for the same year was 32,000 US-dollars. [111]

Athens is one of the major economic centres in south-eastern Europe and is considered as a regional economic power in Europe generally. The port of Piraeus, where big investments by COSCO have already been delivered during the recent decade, the completion of the new Cargo Centre in Thriasion, [112] the expansion of the Athens Metro and the Athens Tram, as well as the Hellenikon metropolitan park redevelopment in Elliniko and other economic projects are the economic landmarks of the upcoming years.

Important Greek companies such as Hellenic Aerospace Industry, Hellas Sat, Mytilineos Holdings, Titan Cement, Hellenic Petroleum, Papadopoulos E.J., Folli Follie, Jumbo S.A., OPAP, and Cosmote have their headquarters in the metropolitan area of Athens. Multinational companies such as Ericsson, Sony, Siemens, Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft, Novartis, Mondelez, Coca-Cola, etc. have their regional research and development headquarters also there.

The banking sector is represented by National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, and Piraeus Bank, while the Bank of Greece is also situated in the City Centre. The Athens Stock Exchange, the only in Greece, has been severely hit by the Greek government-debt crisis and the decision of the government to proceed into capital controls during summer 2015. As a whole the economy of Athens and Greece has been severely hit with today's data showing a change from long recession to growth of 1.4% in 2017. [113]

Tourism is also a great contributor for the economy of the city, which is considered as one of the top destinations in Europe for city-break tourism and is also the gateway for excursions to the islands or the mainland. Greece attracted 26.5 million visitors in 2015, 30.1 million visitors in 2017 and over 33 million in 2018, making Greece one of the most visited countries in Europe and the world, and contributing 18% to the nation's Gross Domestic Product. Athens welcomed more than 5 million tourists in 2018 and 1,4 million of them were "city-breakers" (in 2013 the city-breakers were only 220.000). [114]

Transport Edit

Athens is the major transportation hub of Greece. The city has the largest airport in Greece and the largest port in Greece, which is also the largest port in Mediterranean in containers transport and the largest passenger port in Europe. It is also a major national hub for Intercity (Ktel) and international buses as well as for domestic and international rail transport. Public transport is serviced by a variety of transportation means, forming the largest mass transit system of Greece. The Athens Mass Transit System consists of a large bus and trolleybus fleet, the city's Metro, a commuter rail service [115] and a tram network, connecting the southern suburbs to the city centre. [116]

Bus transport Edit

OSY (Greek: ΟΣΥ ) (Odikes Sygkoinonies S.A.), a subsidiary company of OASA (Athens urban transport organisation), is the main operator of buses and trolleybuses in Athens. As of 2017, its network consists of about 322 bus lines which span the Athens Metropolitan Area, with a fleet of 2,375 buses buses and trolleybuses. Of those 2,375 buses 619 run on compressed natural gas, making up the largest fleet of natural gas-powered buses in Europe, and 354 are electric buses (trolleybuses). All of the 354 trolleybuses are equipped to enable them to run on diesel in case of power failure. [117]

International links are provided by a number of private companies. National and regional bus links are provided by KTEL from two InterCity Bus Terminals, Kifissos Bus Terminal A and Liosion Bus Terminal B, both located in the north-western part of the city. Kifissos provides connections towards Peloponnese, North Greece, West Greece and some Ionian Islands, whereas Liosion is used for most of Central Greece.

Athens Metro Edit

The Athens Metro is operated by STASY S.A (Greek: ΣΤΑΣΥ ) (Statheres Sygkoinonies S.A) which is a subsidiary company of OASA (Athens urban transport organisation) and provides public transport throughout the Athens Urban Area. While its main purpose is transport, it also houses Greek artifacts found during construction of the system. [118] The Athens Metro runs three metro lines, namely Line 1 (Green Line), Line 2 (Red Line) and Line 3 (Blue Line) lines, of which the first was constructed in 1869, and the other two largely during the 1990s, with the initial new sections opened in January 2000. Line 1 mostly runs at ground level and the other two (Line 2 & 3) routes run entirely underground. A fleet of 42 trains, using 252 carriages, operates on the network, [119] with a daily occupancy of 1,353,000 passengers. [120]

Line 1 (Green Line) serves 24 stations, and is the oldest line of the Athens metro network. It runs from Piraeus station to Kifissia station and covers a distance of 25.6 km (15.9 mi). There are transfer connections with the Blue Line 3 at Monastiraki station and with the Red Line 2 at Omonia and Attiki stations.

Line 2 (Red Line) runs from Anthoupoli station to Elliniko station and covers a distance of 17.5 km (10.9 mi). [119] The line connects the western suburbs of Athens with the southeast suburbs, passing through the center of Athens. The Red Line has transfer connections with the Green Line 1 at Attiki and Omonia stations. There are also transfer connections with the Blue Line 3 at Syntagma station and with the tram at Syntagma, Syngrou Fix and Neos Kosmos stations.

Line 3 (Blue Line) runs from Nikaia station, through the central Monastiraki and Syntagma stations to Doukissis Plakentias avenue in the northeastern suburb of Halandri. [119] It then ascends to ground level and continues to Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos using the suburban railway infrastructure, extending its total length to 39 km (24 mi). [119] The spring 2007 extension from Monastiraki westwards to Egaleo connected some of the main night life hubs of the city, namely those of Gazi (Kerameikos station) with Psirri (Monastiraki station) and the city centre (Syntagma station). Extensions are under construction to the western and southwestern suburbs of Athens, as far as the Port of Piraeus. The new stations will be Maniatika, Piraeus and Dimotiko Theatro, and the completed extension will be ready in 2022, connecting the biggest port of Greece, the Port of Piraeus, with Athens International Airport, the biggest airport of Greece.

Commuter/suburban rail (Proastiakos) Edit

The Athens commuter rail service, referred to as the "Proastiakós", connects Athens International Airport to the city of Kiato, 106 km (66 mi) [121] west of Athens, via Larissa station, the city's central rail station and the port of Piraeus. The length of Athens's commuter rail network extends to 120 km (75 mi), [121] and is expected to stretch to 281 km (175 mi) by 2010. [121]

Tram Edit

Athens Tram is operated by STASY S.A (Statheres Sygkoinonies S.A) which is a subsidiary company of OASA (Athens urban transport organisation). It has a fleet of 35 Sirio type vehicles [122] which serve 48 stations, [122] employ 345 people with an average daily occupancy of 65,000 passengers. [122] The tram network spans a total length of 27 km (17 mi) and covers ten Athenian suburbs. [122] The network runs from Syntagma Square to the southwestern suburb of Palaio Faliro, where the line splits in two branches the first runs along the Athens coastline toward the southern suburb of Voula, while the other heads toward Neo Faliro. The network covers the majority of the Athens coastline. [123] Further extension is under construction towards the major commercial port of Piraeus. [122] The expansion to Piraeus will include 12 new stations, increase the overall length of tram route by 5.4 km (3 mi), and increase the overall transportation network. [124]

Athens International Airport Edit

Athens is served by the Athens International Airport (ATH), located near the town of Spata, in the eastern Messoghia plain, some 35 km (22 mi) east of center of Athens. [125] The airport, awarded the "European Airport of the Year 2004" Award, [126] is intended as an expandable hub for air travel in southeastern Europe and was constructed in 51 months, costing 2.2 billion euros. It employs a staff of 14,000. [126]

The airport is served by the Metro, the suburban rail, buses to Piraeus port, Athens' City Centre, Liosion and Kifisos Intercity bus stations and Elliniko metro's line 2 southern terminal, and also taxis. The airport accommodates 65 landings and take-offs per hour, [125] with its 24-passenger boarding bridges, [125] 144 check-in counters and broader 150,000 m 2 (1,614,587 sq ft) main terminal [125] and a commercial area of 7,000 m 2 (75,347 sq ft) which includes cafés, duty-free shops, [126] and a small museum.

In 2018, the airport handled 24,135,736 passengers, a huge increase over the last 4 years. In 2014, the airport handled 15,196,369 passengers, an increase of 21.2% over the previous year of 2013. [127] Of those 15,196,369 passengers, 5,267,593 passed through the airport for domestic flights, [128] and 9,970,006 passengers travelled through for international flights. [128] Beyond the dimensions of its passenger capacity, ATH handled 205,294 total flights in 2007, or approximately 562 flights per day. [129]

Railways and ferry connections Edit

Athens is the hub of the country's national railway system (OSE), connecting the capital with major cities across Greece and abroad (Istanbul, Sofia, Belgrade and Bucharest). The Port of Piraeus is the largest port in Greece and one of the largest in Europe. It is the largest container port in East Mediterranean Sea Basin. It is also the busiest passenger port in Europe and one of the largest passenger ports in the world. It connects Athens to the numerous Greek islands of the Aegean Sea, with ferries departing, while also serving the cruise ships that arrive. [130] [131] [132] Rafina and Lavrio act as alternative ports of Athens, connects the city with numerous Greek islands of the Aegean Sea, Evia and Cesme in Turkey, [133] [134] while also serving the cruise ships that arrive.

Motorways Edit

Two main motorways of Greece begin in Athens, namely the A1/E75, heading north towards Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki and the border crossing of Evzones and the A8/E94 heading west, towards Greece's third largest city, Patras, which incorporated the GR-8A. Before their completion much of the road traffic used the GR-1 and the GR-8.

Athens' Metropolitan Area is served by the motorway network of the Attiki Odos toll-motorway (code: A6). Its main section extends from the western industrial suburb of Elefsina to Athens International Airport while two beltways, namely the Aigaleo Beltway (A65) and the Hymettus Beltway (A64) serve parts of western and eastern Athens respectively. The span of the Attiki Odos in all its length is 65 km (40 mi), [135] making it the largest metropolitan motorway network in all of Greece.

  • Motorways:
    • A1/E75 N(Lamia, Larissa, Thessaloniki)
    • A8 (GR-8A)/E94 W(Elefsina, Corinth, Patras)
    • A6 W(Elefsina)E(Airport)
    • GR-1 Ν(Lamia, Larissa, Thessaloniki)
    • GR-8 W(Corinth, Patras)
    • GR-3 N(Elefsina, Lamia, Larissa)

    Located on Panepistimiou Street, the old campus of the University of Athens, the National Library, and the Athens Academy form the "Athens Trilogy" built in the mid-19th century. The largest and oldest university in Athens is the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Most of the functions of NKUA have been transferred to a campus in the eastern suburb of Zografou. The National Technical University of Athens is located on Patision Street. In this area, on November 17, 1973, more than 13 students were killed and hundreds injured during the Athens Polytechnic uprising [136] against the military junta that ruled the nation from 21 April 1967 until 23 July 1974.

    The University of West Attica is the second largest university in Athens. The seat of the university is located in the Western Sector of Athens where Ancient Athenian Philosophers gave academic lectures. All the activities of UNIWA are carried out in the modern infrastructure of the three University Campuses within the metropolitan region of Athens (Egaleo Park, Ancient Olive Groove and Athens), which offer modern teaching and research spaces, entertainment and support facilities for all students. Other universities that lie within Athens are the Athens University of Economics and Business, the Panteion University, the Agricultural University of Athens and the University of Piraeus. There are overall ten state-supported Institutions of Higher (or Tertiary) education located in the Athens Urban Area, these are by chronological order: Athens School of Fine Arts (1837), National Technical University of Athens (1837), National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (1837), Agricultural University of Athens (1920), Athens University of Economics and Business (1920), Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences (1927), University of Piraeus (1938), Harokopio University of Athens (1990), School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (2002), University of West Attica (2018). There are also several other private colleges, as they called formally in Greece, as the establishment of private universities is prohibited by the constitution. Many of them are accredited by a foreign state or university such as the American College of Greece and the Athens Campus of the University of Indianapolis. [137]

    Archaeological hub Edit

    The city is a world centre of archaeological research. Along with national institutions, such as the Athens University and the Archaeological Society, there are multiple archaeological Museums including the National Archaeological Museum, the Cycladic Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, the Byzantine & Christian Museum, as well as museums at the ancient Agora, Acropolis, Kerameikos, and the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum. The city is also home to the Demokritos laboratory for Archaeometry, alongside regional and national archaeological authorities that form part of the Greek Department of Culture.

    Athens hosts 17 Foreign Archaeological Institutes which promote and facilitate research by scholars from their home countries. As a result, Athens has more than a dozen archaeological libraries and three specialized archaeological laboratories, and is the venue of several hundred specialized lectures, conferences and seminars, as well as dozens of archaeological exhibitions, each year. At any given time, hundreds of international scholars and researchers in all disciplines of archaeology are to be found in the city.

    Architecture Edit

    Athens incorporates architectural styles ranging from Greco-Roman and Neoclassical to modern times. They are often to be found in the same areas, as Athens is not marked by a uniformity of architectural style. A visitor will quickly notice the absence of tall buildings: Athens has very strict height restriction laws in order to ensure the Acropolis hill is visible throughout the city. Despite the variety in styles, there is evidence of continuity in elements of the architectural environment through the city's history. [21]

    For the greatest part of the 19th century Neoclassicism dominated Athens, as well as some deviations from it such as Eclecticism, especially in the early 20th century. Thus, the Old Royal Palace was the first important public building to be built, between 1836 and 1843. Later in the mid and late 19th century, Theophil Freiherr von Hansen and Ernst Ziller took part in the construction of many neoclassical buildings such as the Athens Academy and the Zappeion Hall. Ziller also designed many private mansions in the centre of Athens which gradually became public, usually through donations, such as Schliemann's Iliou Melathron.

    Beginning in the 1920s, modern architecture including Bauhaus and Art Deco began to exert an influence on almost all Greek architects, and buildings both public and private were constructed in accordance with these styles. Localities with a great number of such buildings include Kolonaki, and some areas of the centre of the city neighbourhoods developed in this period include Kypseli. [139]

    In the 1950s and 1960s during the extension and development of Athens, other modern movements such as the International style played an important role. The centre of Athens was largely rebuilt, leading to the demolition of a number of neoclassical buildings. The architects of this era employed materials such as glass, marble and aluminium, and many blended modern and classical elements. [140] After World War II, internationally known architects to have designed and built in the city included Walter Gropius, with his design for the US Embassy, and, among others, Eero Saarinen, in his postwar design for the east terminal of the Ellinikon Airport.

    Urban sculpture Edit

    All over the city can be found several statues or busts. Apart from the neoclassicals by Leonidas Drosis at the Academy of Athens (Plato, Socrates, Apollo, Athena), other notable include the statue of Theseus by Georgios Fytalis at Thiseion, of philhellenes like Lord Byron, George Canning and William Gladstone, the equestrian statue of Theodoros Kolokotronis by Lazaros Sochos in front of the Old Parliament, statues of Ioannis Kapodistrias, Rigas Feraios and Adamantios Korais at the university, of Evangelos Zappas and Konstantinos Zappas at Zappeion, of Ioannis Varvakis at the National Garden, the "woodbreaker" by Dimitrios Filippotis, the equestrian statue of Alexandros Papagos at Papagou district and various busts of fighters of Greek independence at the Pedion tou Areos. A significant landmark is also the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma.

    Museums Edit

    Athens' most important museums include:

    • the National Archaeological Museum, the largest archaeological museum in the country, and one of the most important internationally, as it contains a vast collection of antiquities its artifacts cover a period of more than 5,000 years, from late Neolithic Age to Roman Greece
    • the Benaki Museum with its several branches for each of its collections including ancient, Byzantine, Ottoman-era, and Chinese art and beyond
    • the Byzantine and Christian Museum, one of the most important museums of Byzantine art
    • the National Art Gallery, the most important art gallery in Greece which reopened in 2021 after renovations
    • the National Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 2000 in a former brewery building
    • the Numismatic Museum, housing a major collection of ancient and modern coins
    • the Museum of Cycladic Art, home to an extensive collection of Cycladic art, including its famous figurines of white marble
    • the New Acropolis Museum, opened in 2009, and replacing the old museum on the Acropolis. The new museum has proved considerably popular almost one million people visited during the summer period June–October 2009 alone. A number of smaller and privately owned museums focused on Greek culture and arts are also to be found.
    • the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum, a museum which displays artifacts from the burial site of Kerameikos. Much of the pottery and other artifacts relate to Athenian attitudes towards death and the afterlife, throughout many ages.
    • the Jewish Museum of Greece, a museum which describes the history and culture of the Greek Jewish community.

    Tourism Edit

    Athens has been a destination for travellers since antiquity. Over the past decade, the city's infrastructure and social amenities have improved, in part because of its successful bid to stage the 2004 Olympic Games. The Greek Government, aided by the EU, has funded major infrastructure projects such as the state-of-the-art Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, [141] the expansion of the Athens Metro system, [76] and the new Attiki Odos Motorway. [76]

    Athens was voted as the third best European city to visit in 2015 by European Best Destination. More than 240,000 people voted.

    Entertainment and performing arts Edit

    Athens is home to 148 theatrical stages, more than any other city in the world, including the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus, home to the Athens Festival, which runs from May to October each year. [142] [143] In addition to a large number of multiplexes, Athens plays host to open air garden cinemas. The city also supports music venues, including the Athens Concert Hall (Megaro Moussikis), which attracts world class artists. [144] The Athens Planetarium, [145] located in Andrea Syngrou Avenue, in Palaio Faliro [146] is one of the largest and best equipped digital planetaria in the world. [147] The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, inaugurated in 2016, will house the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera. [148]

    Restaurants, tavernas and bars can be found in the entertainment hubs in Plaka and the Trigono areas of the historic centre, the inner suburbs of Gazi and Psyrri are especially busy with nightclubs and bars, while Kolonaki, Exarchia, Metaxourgeio, Koukaki and Pangrati have more of a cafe and restaurant scene. The coastal suburbs of Microlimano, Alimos and Glyfada have tavernas, beach bars and busy summer clubs.

    The most successful songs during the period 1870–1930 were the so-called Athenian serenades (Αθηναϊκές καντάδες), based on the Heptanesean kantádhes (καντάδες 'serenades' sing.: καντάδα) and the songs performed on stage (επιθεωρησιακά τραγούδια 'theatrical revue songs') in revues, musical comedies, operettas and nocturnes that were dominating Athens' theatre scene.

    Notable composers of operettas or nocturnes were Kostas Giannidis, Dionysios Lavrangas, Nikos Hatziapostolou, while Theophrastos Sakellaridis' The Godson remains probably the most popular operetta. Despite the fact that the Athenian songs were not autonomous artistic creations (in contrast with the serenades) and despite their original connection with mainly dramatic forms of Art, they eventually became hits as independent songs. Notable actors of Greek operettas, who made also a series of melodies and songs popular at that time, include Orestis Makris, Kalouta sisters, Vasilis Avlonitis, Afroditi Laoutari, Eleni Papadaki, Marika Nezer, Marika Krevata and others. After 1930, wavering among American and European musical influences as well as the Greek musical tradition. Greek composers begin to write music using the tunes of the tango, waltz, swing, foxtrot, some times combined with melodies in the style of Athenian serenades' repertory. Nikos Gounaris was probably the most renowned composer and singer of the time.

    In 1922, after the genocide of the Greek people of Minor Asia and Pontus and later by the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, many ethnic Greeks from Asia Minor and Pontus fled to Athens as a result of the Greco-Turkish War. They settled in poor neighborhoods and brought with them Rebetiko music, making it popular also in Greece, which became later the base for the Laïko music. Other forms of song popular today in Greece are elafrolaika, entechno, dimotika, and skyladika. [149] Greece's most notable, and internationally famous, composers of Greek song, mainly of the entechno form, are Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis. Both composers have achieved fame abroad for their composition of film scores. [149]

    Sports Edit

    Overview Edit

    Athens has a long tradition in sports and sporting events, serving as home to the most important clubs in Greek sport and housing a large number of sports facilities. The city has also been host to sports events of international importance.

    Athens has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, in 1896 and 2004. The 2004 Summer Olympics required the development of the Athens Olympic Stadium, which has since gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world, and one of its most interesting modern monuments. [150] The biggest stadium in the country, it hosted two finals of the UEFA Champions League, in 1994 and 2007. Athens' other major stadium, located in the Piraeus area, is the Karaiskakis Stadium, a sports and entertainment complex, host of the 1971 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final.

    Athens has hosted the EuroLeague final three times, the first in 1985 and second in 1993, both at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, most known as SEF, a large indoor arena, [151] and the third time in 2007 at the Olympic Indoor Hall. Events in other sports such as athletics, volleyball, water polo etc., have been hosted in the capital's venues.

    Athens is home to three European multi-sport clubs: Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, AEK Athens. In football, Olympiacos have dominated the domestic competitions, Panathinaikos made it to the 1971 European Cup Final, while AEK Athens is the other member of the big three. These clubs also have basketball teams Panathinaikos and Olympiacos are among the top powers in European basketball, having won the Euroleague six times and three respectively, whilst AEK Athens was the first Greek team to win a European trophy in any team sport.

    Other notable clubs within Athens are Athinaikos, Panionios, Atromitos, Apollon, Panellinios, Egaleo F.C., Ethnikos Piraeus, Maroussi BCE and Peristeri B.C.. Athenian clubs have also had domestic and international success in other sports.

    The Athens area encompasses a variety of terrain, notably hills and mountains rising around the city, and the capital is the only major city in Europe to be bisected by a mountain range. Four mountain ranges extend into city boundaries and thousands of kilometres of trails criss-cross the city and neighbouring areas, providing exercise and wilderness access on foot and bike.

    Beyond Athens and across the prefecture of Attica, outdoor activities include skiing, rock climbing, hang gliding and windsurfing. Numerous outdoor clubs serve these sports, including the Athens Chapter of the Sierra Club, which leads over 4,000 outings annually in the area.

    Sports clubs Edit

    Notable sport clubs based inside the boundaries of Athens Municipality
    Club Founded Sports District Achievements
    Panellinios G.S. 1891 Basketball, Volleyball, Handball, Track and Field and others Kypseli Panhellenic titles in Basketball, Volleyball, Handball, many honours in Track and Field
    Apollon Smyrni 1891
    (originally in Smyrni)
    Football, Basketball, Volleyball and others Rizoupoli Earlier long-time presence in A Ethniki
    Ethnikos G.S. Athens 1893 Track and field, Wrestling, Shooting and others Zappeion Many honours in Athletics and Wrestling
    Panathinaikos AO 1908
    (originally as Football Club of Athens)
    Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Water Polo, Track and Field and others Ampelokipoi One of the most successful Greek clubs, many titles in many sports. Most successful Greek club in European competitions (football and basketball)
    Ilisiakos 1927 Football, Basketball Ilisia Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki basketball
    Asteras Exarchion 1928 (originally as Achilleus Neapoleos) Football, Basketball Exarcheia Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki women basketball
    Ampelokipoi B.C. 1929 (originally as Hephaestus Athens) Basketball Ampelokipoi Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki basketball
    Thriamvos Athens 1930 (originally as Doxa Athens) Football, Basketball Neos Kosmos Panhellenic title in women Basketball
    Sporting B.C. 1936 Basketball Patisia Many Panhellenic titles in women Basketball
    Pagrati B.C. 1938 Basketball Pagrati Earlier presence in A1 Ethniki

    Beside the above clubs, inside the boundaries of Athens Municipality there are some more clubs with presence in national divisions or notable action for short periods. Some of them are PAO Rouf (Rouf) with earlier presence in Gamma Ethniki, Petralona F.C.(el) (Petralona), football club founded in 1963, with earlier presence in Beta Ethniki, Attikos F.C.(el) (Kolonos), football club founded in 1919 with short presence in Gamma Ethniki, Athinais Kypselis [es] (Kypseli), football club founded in 1938 with short presence in Gamma Ethniki, Gyziakos (Gyzi), basketball club founded in 1937 with short presence in Beta Ethniki basketball and Aetos B.C.(el) (Agios Panteleimonas), basketball club founded in 1992 with earlier presence in A2 Ethniki Basketball. Another important Athenian sport club is the Athens Tennis Club founded in 1895 with important offer for the Greek tennis. [152]

    Olympic Games Edit

    1896 Summer Olympics Edit

    The revival of the modern Olympic Games was brought forth in 1896, by Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin. Thanks to his efforts, Athens was awarded the first modern Olympic Games. In 1896, the city had a population of 123,000 [92] and the event helped boost the city's international profile. Of the venues used for these Olympics, the Kallimarmaro Stadium, and Zappeion were most crucial. The Kallimarmaro is a replica of the ancient Athenian stadiums, and the only major stadium (in its capacity of 60,000) to be made entirely of white marble from Mount Penteli, the same material used for construction of the Parthenon.

    The Panathenaic Stadium of Athens (Kallimarmaron) dates back to the 4th century BC and has hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

    1906 Summer Olympics Edit

    The 1906 Summer Olympics, or the 1906 Intercalated games, were held in Athens. The intercalated competitions were intermediate games to the internationally organized Olympics, and were meant to be organized in Greece every four years, between the main Olympics. This idea later lost support from the IOC and these games were discontinued.

    2004 Summer Olympics Edit

    Athens was awarded the 2004 Summer Olympics on 5 September 1997 in Lausanne, Switzerland, after having lost a previous bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympics, to Atlanta, United States. [22] It was to be the second time Athens would host the games, following the inaugural event of 1896. After an unsuccessful bid in 1990, the 1997 bid was radically improved, including an appeal to Greece's Olympic history. In the last round of voting, Athens defeated Rome with 66 votes to 41. [22] Prior to this round, the cities of Buenos Aires, Stockholm and Cape Town had been eliminated from competition, having received fewer votes. [22]

    During the first three years of preparations, the International Olympic Committee had expressed concern over the speed of construction progress for some of the new Olympic venues. In 2000 the Organising Committee's president was replaced by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who was the president of the original Bidding Committee in 1997. From that point forward, preparations continued at a highly accelerated, almost frenzied pace.

    Although the heavy cost was criticized, estimated at $1.5 billion, Athens was transformed into a more functional city that enjoys modern technology both in transportation and in modern urban development. [153] Some of the finest sporting venues in the world were created in the city, all of which were fully ready for the games. The games welcomed over 10,000 athletes from all 202 countries. [153]

    The 2004 Games were judged a success, as both security and organization worked well, and only a few visitors reported minor problems mainly concerning accommodation issues. The 2004 Olympic Games were described as Unforgettable, dream Games, by IOC President Jacques Rogge for their return to the birthplace of the Olympics, and for meeting the challenges of holding the Olympic Games. [153] The only observable problem was a somewhat sparse attendance of some early events. Eventually, however, a total of more than 3.5 million tickets were sold, which was higher than any other Olympics with the exception of Sydney (more than 5 million tickets were sold there in 2000). [154]

    In 2008 it was reported that most of the Olympic venues had fallen into disrepair: according to those reports, 21 of the 22 facilities built for the games had either been left abandoned or are in a state of dereliction, with several squatter camps having sprung up around certain facilities, and a number of venues afflicted by vandalism, graffiti or strewn with rubbish. [155] [156] These claims, however, are disputed and likely to be inaccurate, as most of the facilities used for the Athens Olympics are either in use or in the process of being converted for post-Olympics use. The Greek Government has created a corporation, Olympic Properties SA, which is overseeing the post-Olympics management, development and conversion of these facilities, some of which will be sold off (or have already been sold off) to the private sector, [157] while other facilities are still in use just as during the Olympics, or have been converted for commercial use or modified for other sports. [158] Concerts and theatrical shows, such as those by the troupe Cirque du Soleil, have recently been held in the complex. [149]


    ‘Varvakeion Athena’, Phidias, 438 BC (reproduction AD 200-250)

    The towering figure of Athena that stands in the National Archaeological Museum is a humbling piece of work. Considered to be the most loyal reproduction of Phidias’s original sculpture, made in 438 BC, this version was created between AD 200 and 250 and is thought to be about 12 times smaller than the original.

    The work sees Athena dressed in the traditional Attica Peplos dress and wearing a crown adorned with three crests. In her palm, she holds Nike, goddess of speed and strength, while her shield features the king Erichthonius who, according to Greek mythology, was born from the earth and ruled by Athena. As a testament to Athena’s power, this imposing sculpture is near unparalleled. One can only imagine the fear and reverence the much larger original would have evoked.


    The Varvakeion Athena - History

    Periclean Building Campaign


    Thucydides, The Peloponesian War 1.10.2: For I suppose if Sparta were to become desolate, and the temples and the foundations of the public buildings were left, that as time went on there would be a strong disposition with posterity to refuse to accept her fame as a true exponent of her power. And yet they occupy two-fifths of Peloponnese and lead the whole, not to speak of their numerous allies without. Still, as the city is neither built in a compact form nor adorned with magnificent temples and public edifices, but composed of villages after the old fashion of Hellas, there would be an impression of inadequacy. Whereas, if Athens were to suffer the same misfortune, I suppose that any inference from the appearance presented to the eye would make her power to have been twice as great as it is.

    Plutarch, Life of Pericles 12 & 13 [1] But that which brought most delightful adornment to Athens, and the greatest amazement to the rest of mankind that which alone now testifies for Hellas that her ancient power and splendor, of which so much is told, was no idle fiction, — I mean his construction of sacred edifices, — this, more than all the public measures of Pericles, his enemies maligned and slandered. They cried out in the assemblies: “The people has lost its fair fame and is in ill repute because it has removed the public moneys of the Hellenes from Delos into its own keeping, [2] and that seemliest of all excuses which it had to urge against its accusers, to wit, that out of fear of the Barbarians it took the public funds from that sacred isle and was now guarding them in a stronghold, of this Pericles has robbed it. And surely Hellas is insulted with a dire insult and manifestly subjected to tyranny when she sees that, with her own enforced contributions for the war, we are gilding and bedizening our city, which, for all the world like a wanton woman, adds to her wardrobe precious stones and costly statues and temples worth their millions.”
    [3] For his part, Pericles would instruct the people that it owed no account of their moneys to the allies provided it carried on the war for them and kept off the Barbarians “not a horse do they furnish,” said he, “not a ship, not a hoplite, but money simply and this belongs, not to those who give it, but to those who take it, if only they furnish that for which they take it in pay. [4] And it is but meet that the city, when once she is sufficiently equipped with all that is necessary for prosecuting the war, should apply her abundance to such works as, by their completion, will bring her everlasting glory, and while in process of completion will bring that abundance into actual service, in that all sorts of activity and diversified demands arise, which rouse every art and stir every hand, and bring, as it were, the whole city under pay, so that she not only adorns, but supports herself as well from her own resources.”
    [5] And it was true that his military expeditions supplied those who were in the full vigor of manhood with abundant resources from the common funds, and in his desire that the unwarlike throng of common laborers should neither have no share at all in the public receipts, nor yet get fees for laziness and idleness, he boldly suggested to the people projects for great constructions, and designs for works which would call many arts into play and involve long periods of time, in order that the stay-at-homes, no whit less than the sailors and sentinels and soldiers, might have a pretext for getting a beneficial share of the public wealth.
    [6] The materials to be used were stone, bronze, ivory, gold, ebony, and cypress-wood the arts which should elaborate and work up these materials were those of carpenter, moulder, bronze-smith, stone-cutter, dyer, worker in gold and ivory, painter, embroiderer, embosser, to say nothing of the forwarders and furnishers of the material, such as factors, sailors and pilots by sea, [7] and, by land, wagon-makers, trainers of yoked beasts, and drivers. There were also rope-makers, weavers, leather-workers, road-builders, and miners. And since each particular art, like a general with the army under his separate command, kept its own throng of unskilled and untrained laborers in compact array, to be as instrument unto player and as body unto soul in subordinate service, it came to pass that for every age, almost, and every capacity the city's great abundance was distributed and scattered abroad by such demands.
    [1] So then the works arose, no less towering in their grandeur than inimitable in the grace of their outlines, since the workmen eagerly strove to surpass themselves in the beauty of their handicraft. And yet the most wonderful thing about them was the speed with which they rose
    . Each one of them, men thought, would require many successive generations to complete it, but all of them were fully completed in the heyday of a single administration.
    [2] And yet they say that once on a time when Agatharchus the painter was boasting loudly of the speed and ease with which he made his figures, Zeuxis heard him, and said, “Mine take, and last, a long time.” And it is true that deftness and speed in working do not impart to the work an abiding weight of influence nor an exactness of beauty whereas the time which is put out to loan in laboriously creating, pays a large and generous interest in the preservation of the creation.
    [3] For this reason are the works of Pericles all the more to be wondered at they were created in a short time for all time. Each one of them, in its beauty, was even then and at once antique but in the freshness of its vigor it is, even to the present day, recent and newly wrought. Such is the bloom of perpetual newness, as it were, upon these works of his, which makes them ever to look untouched by time, as though the unfaltering breath of an ageless spirit had been infused into them.
    4] His general manager and general overseer was Pheidias, although the several works had great architects and artists besides. Of the Parthenon, for instance, with its cella of a hundred feet in length, Callicrates and Ictinus were the architects it was Coroebus who began to build the sanctuary of the mysteries at Eleusis, and he planted the columns on the floor and yoked their capitals together with architraves but on his death Metagenes, of the deme Xypete, carried up the frieze and the upper tier of columns[5] while Xenocles, of the deme Cholargus, set on high the lantern over the shrine. 41 For the long wall, concerning which Socrates says* he himself heard Pericles introduce a measure, Callicrates was the contractor. Cratinus pokes fun at this work for its slow progress, and in these words: —
    “Since ever so long now
    In word has Pericles pushed the thing in fact he does not budge it.”*
    7] The Propylaea of the acropolis were brought to completion in the space of five years, Mnesicles being their architect. A wonderful thing happened in the course of their building, which indicated that the goddess was not holding herself aloof, but was a helper both in the inception and in the completion of the work.
    [8] One of its artificers, the most active and zealous of them all, lost his footing and fell from a great height, and lay in a sorry plight, despaired of by the physicians. Pericles was much cast down at this, but the goddess appeared to him in a dream and prescribed a course of treatment for him to use, so that he speedily and easily healed the man. It was in commemoration of this that he set up the bronze statue of Athena Hygieia on the acropolis near the altar of that goddess, which was there before, as they say.
    [9] But it was Pheidias who produced the great golden image of the goddess, and he is duly inscribed on the tablet as the workman who made it. Everything, almost, was under his charge, and all the artists and artisans, as I have said, were under his superintendence, owing to his friendship with Pericles. This brought envy upon the one, and contumely on the other, to the effect that Pheidias made assignations for Pericles with free-born women who would come ostensibly to see the works of art.

    Plutarch, Life of Pericles, 31: [2] But the worst charge of all, and yet the one which has the most vouchers, runs something like this. Pheidias the sculptor was contractor for the great statue, as I have said, and being admitted to the friendship of Pericles, and acquiring the greatest influence with him, made some enemies through the jealousy which he excited others also made use of him to test the people and see what sort of a judge it would be in a case where Pericles was involved. These latter persuaded one Menon, an assistant of Pheidias, to take a suppliant's seat in the market-place and demand immunity from punishment in case he should bring information and accusation against Pheidias. [3] The people accepted the man's proposal, and formal prosecution of Pheidias was made in the assembly. Embezzlement, indeed, was not proven, for the gold of the statue, from the very start, had been so wrought upon and cast about it by Pheidias, at the wise suggestion of Pericles, that it could all be taken off and weighed,* and this is what Pericles actually ordered the accusers of Pheidias to do at this time. [4] But the reputation of his works nevertheless brought a burden of jealous hatred upon Pheidias, and especially the fact that when he wrought the battle of the Amazons on the shield of the goddess, he carved out a figure that suggested himself as a bald old man lifting on high a stone with both hands, and also inserted a very fine likeness of Pericles fighting with an Amazon. And the attitude of the hand, which holds out a spear in front of the face of Pericles, is cunningly contrived as it were with a desire to conceal the resemblance, which is, however, plain to be seen from either side. [5] Pheidias, accordingly, was led away to prison, and died there of sickness but some say of poison which the enemies of Pericles provided, that they might bring calumny upon him. And to Menon the informer, on motion of Glycon, the people gave immunity from taxation, and enjoined upon the generals to make provision for the man's safety.

    Statue of Athena Parthenos

    Modern Reconstruction of the Athena Parthenos


    Varvakeion Athena (2nd century copy of the Athena Parthenos)

    Pausanias, I, 24.5-7:As you enter the temple that they name the Parthenon, all the sculptures you see on what is called the pediment refer to the birth of Athena, those on the rear pediment represent the contest for the land between Athena and Poseidon. The statue itself is made of ivory and gold. On the middle of her helmet is placed a likeness of the Sphinx — the tale of the Sphinx I will give when I come to my description of Boeotia — and on either side of the helmet are griffins in relief. [6] These griffins, Aristeas of Proconnesus says in his poem, fight for the gold with the Arimaspi beyond the Issedones. The gold which the griffins guard, he says, comes out of the earth the Arimaspi are men all born with one eye griffins are beasts like lions, but with the beak and wings of an eagle. I will say no more about the griffins. [7] The statue of Athena is upright, with a tunic reaching to the feet, and on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a statue of Victory about four cubits high, and in the other hand a spear at her feet lies a shield and near the spear is a serpent. This serpent would be Erichthonius*. On the pedestal is the birth of Pandora in relief. Hesiod and others have sung how this Pandora** was the first woman before Pandora was born there was as yet no womankind.

    *Erichthonius: said to be the son of Hephaestus and the Earth (i.e. aboriginal). He was the father of the legendary king of Athens, Erechtheus.

    **Pandora: on Zeus's command Hephaestus fashions Pandora, the first woman, out of clay. Athena breathed life into her, and the other gods endowered her with every charm (whence her name, "all gifts"). She brought with her a box from which when opened there issued all the evils and distempers that have since afflicted the human race.


    Reconstruction of the Zeus by Phidias for the Temple of Zeus at Olympia

    Pliny, Natural History, 36, 18: That Pheidias is extremely famous among all peoples who appreciate the reputation of his Zeus at Olympia, nobody doubts, but in order that those who have not seen his works may know that he is justly praised, I will offer some small points of evidence to prove who great his inventiveness was. To do this, I shall neither use as proof the beauty of the Zeus at Olympia, nor the size of the Athena which he made at Athens (since she is 26 cubits hight and is make of ivory and gold), but rather I shall use the battle of the Amazons which is carved in a circular pattern on the convex side of her shield likewise on the concave side of it he represented the struggle of the gods and giants, and on her sandals that of the Lapiths and Centaurs, so fully did every part offer the opportunity for the application of his art. On the base is carved the scene which they call “the birth of Pandora,” with twenty gods present at the birth. The Victory is especially marvellous but experts admire the serpent and also the bronze sphinx which is placed below the point of her spear.

    The funeral oration represents a particular genre of public speech made popular by Pericles. Honoring the dead of a recent conflict, the orator was called upon to put the deaths in the context of Athenian history, and to give significance to the sacrifice of the fallen warriors. Although written well after the completion of the Parthenon, the themes included can be traced back to fifth century ideas.

    Pericles, “Funeral Oration” as recorded in Thucydides, Book 2:
    [8] Meanwhile these were the first that had fallen, and Pericles, son of Xanthippus, was chosen to pronounce their eulogium. When the proper time arrived, he advanced from the sepulchre to an elevated platform in order to be heard by as many of the crowd as possible, and spoke as follows:
    35: [1] ‘Most of my predecessors in this place have commended him who made this speech part of the law, telling us that it is well that it should be delivered at the burial of those who fall in battle. For myself, I should have thought that the worth which had displayed itself in deeds, would be sufficiently rewarded by honors also shown by deeds such as you now see in this funeral prepared at the people's cost. And I could have wished that the reputations of many brave men were not to be imperilled in the mouth of a single individual, to stand or fall according as he spoke well or ill.
    [2] For it is hard to speak properly upon a subject where it is even difficult to convince your hearers that you are speaking the truth. On the one hand, the friend who is familiar with every fact of the story, may think that some point has not been set forth with that fulness which he wishes and knows it to deserve on the other, he who is a stranger to the matter may be led by envy to suspect exaggeration if he hears anything above his own nature. For men can endure to hear others praised only so long as they can severally persuade themselves of their own ability to equal the actions recounted: when this point is passed, envy comes in and with it incredulity.
    [3] However, since our ancestors have stamped this custom with their approval, it becomes my duty to obey the law and to try to satisfy your several wishes and opinions as best I may.
    36: [1] I shall begin with our ancestors: it is both just and proper that they should have the honor of the first mention on an occasion like the present. They dwelt in the country without break in the succession from generation to generation, and handed it down free to the present time by their valor.
    [2] And if our more remote ancestors deserve praise, much more do our own fathers, who added to their inheritance the empire which we now possess, and spared no pains to be able to leave their acquisitions to us of the present generation.
    [3] Lastly, there are few parts of our dominions that have not been augmented by those of us here, who are still more or less in the vigor of life while the mother country has been furnished by us with everything that can enable her to depend on her own resources whether for war or for peace.
    [4] That part of our history which tells of the military achievements which gave us our several possessions, or of the ready valor with which either we or our fathers stemmed the tide of Hellenic or foreign aggression, is a theme too familiar to my hearers for me to dilate on, and I shall therefore pass it by. But what was the road by which we reached our position, what the form of government under which our greatness grew, what the national habits out of which it sprang these are questions which I may try to solve before I proceed to my panegyric upon these men since I think this to be a subject upon which on the present occasion a speaker may properly dwell, and to which the whole assemblage, whether citizens or foreigners, may listen with advantage.
    37: [1] Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighboring states we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration favors the many instead of the few this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences if to social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition.
    [2] The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life. There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance over each other, we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbor for doing what he likes, or even to indulge in those injurious looks which cannot fail to be offensive, although they inflict no positive penalty.
    [3] But all this ease in our private relations does not make us lawless as citizens. Against this fear is our chief safeguard, teaching us to obey the magistrates and the laws, particularly such as regard the protection of the injured, whether they are actually on the statute book, or belong to that code which, although unwritten, yet cannot be broken without acknowledged disgrace.
    38: [1] Further, we provide plenty of means for the mind to refresh itself from business. We celebrate games and sacrifices all the year round, and the elegance of our private establishments forms a daily source of pleasure and helps to banish the spleen
    [2] while the magnitude of our city draws the produce of the world into our harbor, so that to the Athenian the fruits of over countries are as familiar a luxury as those of his own.
    39: [1] If we turn to our military policy, there also we differ from antagonists. We throw open our city to the world, and never by alien acts exclude foreigners from any opportunity of learning or observing, although the eyes of an enemy may occasionally profit by our liberality trusting less in system and policy than to the native spirit of our citizens while in education, where our rivals from their very cradles by a painful discipline seek after manliness, at Athens we live exactly as we please, and yet are just as ready to encounter every legitimate danger.
    [2] In proof of this it may be noticed that the Lacedaemonians do not invade our country alone, but bring with them all their confederates while we Athenians advance unsupported into the territory of a neighbor, and fighting upon a foreign soil usually vanquish with ease men who are defending their homes.
    [3] Our united force was never yet encountered by any enemy, because we have at once to attend to our marine and to despatch our citizens by land upon a hundred different services so that, wherever they engage with some such fraction of our strength, a success against a detachment is magnified into a victory over the nation, and a defeat into a reverse suffered at the hands of our entire people.
    [4] And yet if with habits not of labor but of ease, and courage not of art but of nature, we are still willing to encounter danger, we have the double advantage of escaping the experience of hardships in anticipation and of facing them in the hour of need as fearlessly as those who are never free from them.
    Nor are these the only points in which our city is worthy of admiration.
    40: 1] We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it.
    [2] Our public men have, besides politics, their private affairs to attend to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public matters for, unlike any other nation, regarding him who takes no part in these duties not as unambitious but as useless, we Athenians are able to judge at all events if we cannot originate, and instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all.
    [3] Again, in our enterprises we present the singular spectacle of daring and deliberation, each carried to its highest point, and both united in the same persons although usually decision is the fruit of ignorance, hesitation of reflection. But the palm of courage will surely be adjudged most justly to those, who best know the difference between hardship and pleasure and yet are never tempted to shrink from danger.
    [4] In generosity we are equally singular, acquiring our friends by conferring not by receiving favors. Yet, of course, the doer of the favor is the firmer friend of the two, in order by continued kindness to keep the recipient in his debt while the debtor feels less keenly from the very consciousness that the return he makes will be a payment, not a free gift.
    [5] And it is only the Athenians who, fearless of consequences, confer their benefits not from calculations of expediency, but in the confidence of liberality.
    41: 1] In short, I say that as a city we are the school of Hellas while I doubt if the world can produce a man, who where he has only himself to depend upon, is equal to so many emergencies, and graced by so happy a versatility as the Athenian.
    [2] And that this is no mere boast thrown out for the occasion, but plain matter of fact, the power of the state acquired by these habits proves.
    [3] For Athens alone of her contemporaries is found when tested to be greater than her reputation, and alone gives no occasion to her assailants to blush at the antagonist by whom they have been worsted, or to her subjects to question her title by merit to rule.
    [4] Rather, the admiration of the present and succeeding ages will be ours, since we have not left our power without witness, but have shown it by mighty proofs and far from needing a Homer for our panegyrist, or other of his craft whose verses might charm for the moment only for the impression which they gave to melt at the touch of fact, we have forced every sea and land to be the highway of our daring, and everywhere, whether for evil or for good, have left imperishable monuments behind us.
    [5] Such is the Athens for which these men, in the assertion of their resolve not to lose her, nobly fought and died and well may well every one of their survivors be ready to suffer in her cause.
    42: [1] Indeed if I have dwelt at some length upon the character of our country, it has been to show that our stake in the struggle is not the same as theirs who have no such blessings to lose, and also that the panegyric of the men over whom I am now speaking might be by definite proofs established.
    [2] That panegyric is now in a great measure complete for the Athens that I have celebrated is only what the heroism of these and their like have made her, men whose fame, unlike at of most Hellenes, will be found to be only commensurate with their deserts. And if a test of worth be wanted, it is to be found in their closing scene, and this not only in the cases in which it set the final seal upon their merit, but also in those in which it gave the first intimation of their having any.
    [3] For there is justice in the claim that steadfastness in his country's battles should be as a cloak to cover a man's other imperfections since the good action has blotted out the bad, and his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual.
    [4] But none of these allowed either wealth with its prospect of future enjoyment to unnerve his spirit, or poverty with its hope of a day of freedom and riches to tempt him to shrink from danger. No, holding that vengeance upon their enemies was more to be desired than any personal blessings, and reckoning this to be the most glorious of hazards, they joyfully determined to accept the risk, to make sure of their vengeance and to let their wishes wait and while committing to hope the uncertainty of final success, in the business before them they thought fit to act boldly and trust in themselves. Thus choosing to die resisting, rather than to live submitting, they fled only from dishonor, but met danger face to face, and after one brief moment, while at the summit of their fortune, escaped, not from their fear, but from their glory.
    43:[1] So died these men as became Athenians. You, their survivors, must determine to have as unaltering a resolution in the field, though you may pray that it may have a happier issue. And not contented with ideas derived only from words of the advantages which are bound up with the defence of your country, though these would furnish a valuable text to a speaker even before an audience so alive to them as the present, you must yourselves realize the power of Athens, and feed your eyes upon her from day to day, till love of her fills your hearts and then when all her greatness shall break upon you, you must reflect that it was by courage, sense of duty, and a keen feeling of honor in action that men were enabled to win all this, and that no personal failure in an enterprise could make them consent to deprive their country of their valor, but they laid it at her feet as the most glorious contribution that they could offer.
    [2] For this offering of their lives made in common by them all they each of them individually received that renown which never grows old, and for a sepulchre, not so much that in which their bones have been deposited, but that noblest of shrines wherein their glory is laid up to be eternally remembered upon every occasion on which deed or story shall fall for its commemoration.
    [3] For heroes have the whole earth for their tomb and in lands far from their own, where the column with its epitaph declares it, there is enshrined in every breast a record unwritten with no tablet to preserve it, except that of the heart.
    [4] These take as your model, and judging happiness to be the fruit of freedom and freedom of valor, never decline the dangers of war.
    [5] For it is not the miserable that would most justly be unsparing of their lives these have nothing to hope for: it is rather they to whom continued life may bring reverses as yet unknown, and to whom a fall, if it came, would be most tremendous in its consequences.
    [6] And surely, to a man of spirit, the degradation of cowardice must be immeasurably more grievous than the unfelt death which strikes him in the midst of his strength and patriotism!
    44:[1] Comfort, therefore, not condolence, is what I have to offer to the parents of the dead who may be here. Numberless are the chances to which, as they know, the life of man is subject but fortunate indeed are they who draw for their lot a death so glorious as that which has caused your mourning, and to whom life has been so exactly measured as to terminate in the happiness in which it has been passed.
    [2] Still I know that this is a hard saying, especially when those are in question of whom you will constantly be reminded by seeing in the homes of others blessings of which once you also boasted: for grief is felt not so much for the want of what we have never known, as for the loss of that to which we have been long accustomed.
    [3] Yet you who are still of an age to beget children must bear up in the hope of having others in their stead not only will they help you to forget those whom you have lost, but will be to the state at once a reinforcement and a security for never can a fair or just policy be expected of the citizen who does not, like his fellows, bring to the decision the interests and apprehensions of a father.
    [4] While those of you who have passed your prime must congratulate yourselves with the thought that the best part of your life was fortunate, and that the brief span that remains will be cheered by the fame of the departed. For it is only the love of honor that never grows old and honor it is, not gain, as some would have it, that rejoices the heart of age and helplessness.
    45:[1] Turning to the sons or brothers of the dead, I see an arduous struggle before you. When a man is gone, all are wont to praise him, and should your merit be ever so transcendent, you will still find it difficult not merely to overtake, but even to approach their renown. The living have envy to contend with, while those who are no longer in our path are honored with a goodwill into which rivalry does not enter.
    [2] On the other hand if I must say anything on the subject of female excellence to those of you who will now be in widowhood, it will be all comprised in this brief exhortation. Great will be your glory in not falling short of your natural character and greatest will be hers who is least talked of among the men whether for good or for bad.
    46:[1] My task is now finished. I have performed it to the best of my ability, and in words, at least, the requirements of the law are now satisfied. If deeds be in question, those who are here interred have received part of their honors already, and I for the rest, their children will be brought up till manhood at the public expense: the state thus offers a valuable prize, as the garland of victory in this race of valor, for the reward both of those who have fallen and their survivors. And where the rewards for merit are greatest, there are found the best citizens.
    [2] And now that you have brought to a close your lamentations for your relatives, you may depart.’

    Demosthenes ((384-322.B.C.) has been recognized as one of the greatest of the Attic orators), Funeral Oration, 60, 4-8: [4] The nobility of birth of these men has been acknowledged from time immemorial by all mankind. For it is possible for them and for each one of their remote ancestors man by man to trace back their being, not only to a physical father, but also to this land of theirs as a whole, a common possession, of which they are acknowledged to be the indigenous children. For alone of all mankind they settled the very land from which they were born and handed it down to their descendants, so that justly one may assume that those who came as migrants into their cities and are denominated citizens of the same are comparable to adopted children but these men are citizens of their native land by right of legitimate birth.
    [5] In my view also the fact that the fruits of the earth by which men live were first manifest among us, even apart from their being a superlative boon to all men, constitutes an acknowledged proof that this land is the mother of our ancestors. For all things that bring forth young produce at the same time nutriment out of the organism itself for those that are born. This very thing has been done by this land.
    [6] Such is the pride of birth that belongs to the ancestors of these men throughout the ages. As for Courage and the other elements of virtue, I shrink from rehearsing the whole story, being on my guard for fear an untimely length shall attach to my speech , but such facts as it is worth while even for those who are familiar with them to recall to mind and most profitable for the inexperienced to hear, events of great power to inspire and calling for no tedious length of speech, these I shall endeavor to rehearse in summary fashion.
    [7] For the ancestors of this present generation, both their fathers and those who bore the names of these men in time past, by which they are recognized by those of our race, never at any time wronged any man, whether Greek or barbarian, but it was their pride, in addition to all their other good qualities, to be true gentlemen and supremely just, and in defending themselves they accomplished a long list of noble deeds.
    [8] They so prevailed over the invading host of the Amazons as to expel them beyond the Phasis, and the host of Eumolpus and of many another foeman they drove not only out of their own land but also from the lands of all the other Greeks — invaders whom all those dwelling on our front to the westward neither withstood nor possessed the power to halt.

    Lysias, Funeral Oration, 2, 17 : [17] Now in many ways it was natural to our ancestors, moved by a single resolve, to fight the battles of justice: for the very beginning of their life was just. They had not been collected, like most nations, from every quarter, and had not settled in a foreign land after driving out its people: they were born of the soil, and possessed in one and the same country their mother and their fatherland. [18] They were the first and the only people in that time to drive out the ruling classes of their state and to establish a democracy, believing the liberty of all to be the strongest bond of agreement by sharing with each other the hopes born of their perils they had freedom of soul in, their civic life, [19] and used law for honoring the good and punishing the evil. For they deemed that it was the way of wild beasts to be held subject to one another by force, but the duty of men to delimit justice by law, to convince by reason, and to serve these two in act by submitting to the sovereignty of law and the instruction of reason.
    [20] For indeed, being of noble stock and having minds as noble, the ancestors of those who lie here achieved many noble and admirable things but ever memorable and mighty are the trophies that their descendants have everywhere left behind them owing to their valor. For they alone risked their all in defending the whole of Greece against many myriads of the barbarians.
    [21] For the King of Asia, not content with the wealth that he had already, but hoping to enslave Europe as well, dispatched an army of five hundred thousand. These, supposing that, if they obtained the willing friendship of this city or overwhelmed its resistance, they would easily dominate the rest of the Greeks, landed at Marathon, thinking that we should be most destitute of allies if they made their venture at a moment when Greece was in dissension as to the best means of repelling the invaders.
    22] Besides, from the former actions of our city they had conceived a particular opinion of her: they thought that if they attacked another city first, they would be at war with it and Athens as well, for she would be zealous in coming to succor her injured neighbors but if they made their way here first, no Greeks elsewhere would dare attempt the deliverance of others, and for their sake incur the open hostility of the foreigners.
    [23] These, then, were the motives of the foe. But our ancestors, without stopping to calculate the hazards of the war, but holding that a glorious death leaves behind it a deathless account of deeds well done, had no fear of the multitude of their adversaries, but rather had confidence in their own valor. And feeling ashamed that the barbarians were in their country, they did not wait till their allies should be informed and come to their support rather than have to thank others for their salvation, they chose that the rest of the Greeks should have to thank them.
    [24] With this one resolve in the minds of all, they marched to the encounter, though few against many: for death, in their opinion, was a thing for them to share with all men, but prowess with a few and while they possessed their lives, because of mortality, as alien things, they would leave behind something of their own in the memory attached to their perils. And they deemed that a victory which they could not win alone would be as impossible with the aid of their allies. If vanquished, they would perish a little before the others if victorious, they would liberate the others with themselves.
    [25] They proved their worth as men, neither sparing their limbs nor cherishing their lives when valor called, and had more reverence for their city's laws than fear of their perils in face of the enemy and so in their own land they set up on behalf of Greece a trophy of victory over the barbarians, who had invaded others' territory for money, [26] past the frontiers of their land and so swiftly did they surmount their ordeal that by the same messengers information reached the other Greeks both of the barbarians' arrival here and of our ancestors' triumph. For indeed none of the other Greeks knew fear for the peril to come they only heard the news and rejoiced over their own liberation. No wonder, then, that these deeds performed long ago should be as though they were new, and that even to this day the valor of that band should be envied by all mankind.
    [27] Thereafter Xerxes, King of Asia, who had held Greece in contempt, but had been deceived in his hopes, who was dishonored by the event, galled by the disaster, and angered against its authors, and who was unused to ill-hap and unacquainted with true men, in ten years' time prepared for war and came with twelve hundred ships and the land army that he brought was so immense in numbers that to enumerate even the nations that followed in his train would be a lengthy task.

    Sophocles, Antigone:
    Chorus
    [332] Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man. [335] This power spans the sea, even when it surges white before the gales of the south-wind, and makes a path under swells that threaten to engulf him. Earth, too, the eldest of the gods, the immortal, the unwearied, [340] he wears away to his own ends, turning the soil with the offspring of horses as the plows weave to and fro year after year. [343] The light-hearted tribe of birds [345] and the clans of wild beasts and the sea-brood of the deep he snares in the meshes of his twisted nets, and he leads them captive, very-skilled man. He masters by his arts [350] the beast who dwells in the wilds and roams the hills. He tames the shaggy-maned horse, putting the yoke upon its neck, and tames the tireless mountain bull. [354] Speech and thought fast as the [355] wind and the moods that give order to a city he has taught himself, and how to flee the arrows of the inhospitable frost under clear skies and the arrows of the storming rain. [360] He has resource for everything. Lacking resource in nothing he strides towards what must come. From Death alone he shall procure no escape, but from baffling diseases he has devised flights. [365] Possessing resourceful skill, a subtlety beyond expectation he moves now to evil, now to good. When he honors the laws of the land and the justice of the gods to which he is bound by oath, [370] his city prospers. But banned from his city is he who, thanks to his rashness, couples with disgrace. Never may he share my home, [375] never think my thoughts, who does these things!


    The Varvakeion Athena - History

    Mosaic floor of a house depicting the head of Medusa

    National Archaeological Museum

    Sculpture Collection, inv. no. 16207

    Provenace: Piraeus

    Dimensions: Length: 3.08 m. Width: 3.00 m. Height of Medusa’s head 0.65 m.

    Date: 2nd c. AD

    Display location: Museum Atrium

    Looking at the mosaic, the visitor’s gaze is drawn by the melancholy and beautiful face of Medusa, delicately and accurately made by a competent craftsman with much smaller tesserae than those used for the designs around it. The mosaic is decorated with a whirl pattern[1] consisting of triangles of different colors and sizes and, at the center, inside a medallion, the head of Medusa with a pair of wings next to her forehead and snakes in her hair. Surrounding this composition is a band with a cable pattern. Outside it, four large ivy leaves are placed at the corners of the quadrangular framing band, which is decorated with a larger cable pattern.

    Taking a better look at Medusa’s face, and especially at the snakes springing from her hair, one realizes that she is far from harmless. Τhis realization leads us to the narration of her tragic story.

    Medusa was the only mortal of the three Gorgons, daughters of the sea gods Phorkys and Keto (her two sisters were Stheno and Euryale). According to the myth she was the priestess of Athena and coupled with Poseidon, transformed into a horse, inside the temple of the goddess. Athena, infuriated by this sacrilege, turned Medusa into a hideous monster, which had snakes instead of hair, and the power to petrify anyone who looked at it in the face. Her end was grim: she was beheaded by the hero Perseus , aided by Athena, and immediately from her neck sprang Poseidon’s offspring, the winged horse Pegasos and the giant warrior Chrysaor. Her two immortal sisters pursued Perseus, who was saved thanks to Athena’s intervention. Medusa’s head, the famed Gorgoneion, was, finally, given to Athena by Perseus as a gift of thanks she placed it as emblem on her aegis (a breastplate made from the skin of the Chimaera) and as blazon on her shield, as on the statuette of the Varvakeion Athena .

    The first Gorgoneia that appear in Archaic art have monstrous features, which underline their daemonic nature : huge eyes, broad nose, open mouth with tongue hanging out, and dangerous teeth. However, from the Classical period onwards their human features prevail over the daemonic ones, and their ugly or exaggeratedly monstrous faces become humanized to such an extent that, finally, Medusa is transformed into a young attractive woman. The Gorgoneion becomes too good-looking to inspire fear. The combination of a beautiful but dangerous Medusa fascinated artists and led them to inspired masterful creations, such as the Strozzi Medusa and the Medusa Rondanini, whose prototype has been attributed, among others, to the famous Classical sculptor Pheidias.

    [1] The whirl is geometrically composed of triangles of various alternate colors, and creates an optical illusion (trompe l’oeil): seen from afar it gives the impression of depth and quick movement, a vortex whose centre is the head of Medusa.

    Select bibliography

    LIMC IV, s.v. Gorgones Romanae p. 358, no. 176 [O. Paoletti]

    Α. T. Philadelpheus, «Το Γοργόνειον», ΑΕphem 1894 p. 99-112, pl. 4

    Ε. Buschor, Medusa Rondanini (Stuttgart 1958), p. 24, pl. 30-1

    K. Karoglou, Dangerous Beauty, Medusa in Classical Art (New York 2018)


    The Varvakeion Athena - History

    The restored sculpture now stands in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, in a room exhibiting emormous parts of architectural monuments from Pergamon and other ancient cities in Asia Minor, including the propylon of the Pergamon Sanctuary of Athena Nikephoros (see gallery 2, page 20). In the photo above the statue stands in front of the reconstructed western front of the 2nd century BC Temple of Zeus Sosipolis from Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey.

    The 310.5 cm tall figure is missing the left side of the neck, the feet as well as both arms. The reconstruction has been been given a neck which appears far too long in proportion to the head and body. The remains of the base on which the figure stands is 40.5 cm high, 118.5 cm wide, 69 cm deep, made from a single block of marble (see photo below). It is thought to have originally been about twice as large: 266 cm long and 133 cm deep.

    The statue was modelled on the colossal Athena Parthenos statue, made of a wooden core covered in gold and ivory (chryselephantine), by the Athenian sculptor Pheidias around 450-430 BC, which stood in the Parthenon of the Athenian Acropolis.

    Although Pheidias' original is lost, two small copies, known as the "Varvakeion statuette" and "Lenormant Athena", in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens (see photos below), and other copies found around the Graeco-Roman world provide modern scholars with an idea of how it looked.

    This is how the Greek travel writer Pausanias described the statue in the Parthenon, as he recalled seeing it in the mid 2nd century AD:

    "The statue itself is made of ivory and gold. On the middle of her helmet is placed a likeness of the Sphinx. and on either side of the helmet are griffins in relief.

    The statue of Athena is upright, with a tunic reaching to the feet, and on her breast the head of Medusa is worked in ivory. She holds a statue of Victory about four cubits high, and in the other hand a spear at her feet lies a shield and near the spear is a serpent. This serpent would be Erichthonius.

    On the pedestal is the birth of Pandora in relief. Hesiod and others have sung how this Pandora was the first woman before Pandora was born there was as yet no womankind." [2]

    Strangely, Pausanias did not mention the name of the sculptor who made the statue, although elsewhere he mentioned that other statues in Athens were made by Pheidias. Although he wrote that the statue held a spear in her left hand, the Varvakeion and Lenormant statuettes show her holding the shield decorated with a complex relief of a battle scene, and sheltering a large serpent. In the palm of her outstretched right hand, supported by a column, she held a small winged figure of the goddess Nike, who in turn held out the laurel wreath of victory.

    In the Pergamon Athena Parthenos and other copies the goddess wears an Attic helmet. Pausanias mentions that the original was decorated by a sphinx flanked by two griffins, but the Varvakeion statuette has three crests, each supported by a sphinx and two winged horses, or pegasoi.

    This type of helmet also had cheek flaps (see the photo of the "Medici Athena", below right). A photo of the Pergamon statue, taken around 1913 (see below), shows raised cheek flaps attached to the helmet. These seem to have since disappeared.

    As in the Varvakeion statuette and many other similar statues of Athena, her shoulders and breast are covered by a breastplate or aegis, which in this case appears to be covered by vertically layered feathers or scales, fastened at the front by the Gorgoneion, the head of the Gorgon Medusa.

    Numerous holes were drilled in the figure by the sculptor (see photo, right) so that details and adornments could be fixed to it with dowels.

    The front of base is decorated with a 15 cm high relief, decorated with a row of figures (see photo below). Although badly damaged, parts of seven figures are still visible, and it seems that the surviving part of the relief could not have had space for more than ten figures. The Roman writer Pliny the Elder also wrote that the pedestal of Pheidias' original depicted the birth of Pandora and that it included 20 gods if the image of Pandora herself is added to this number, there must have been 21 figures in total. [3]

    When compared to the statue of "Athena with the cross-banded aegis" (see previous page), this work seems more conventional and static. Her posture, for example, is totally rigid and erect, with only the slightly raised and bent left leg and (presumably) arms to provide dynamic elements.

    Both sculptures were created around the same time, during the first half of the 2nd century BC, so that while the artist working on the other statue was creating something quite new and innovative, the maker of this copy of a Classical Athenian original was providing the Hellenistic city with a sacred image famous throughout the Hellenic world, which was thus a claim to cultural continuity and a symbolic link to the ancient Greek motherland.

    Head of Athena of the
    "Medici type", copied from
    works by the circle of
    Pheidias. The goddess
    wears an Attic helmet
    with cheek flaps.

    2nd century AD. Marble,
    from an acrolith statue
    (of marble and wood).

    The badly damaged remains of the base of the statue of Athena Parthenos.
    The relief is thought to have depicted deities attending the birth of Pandora.

    The "Lenormant Athena" statuette of Athena
    Parthenos, miniature replica of Pheidias' statue.
    Pentelic marble, 2nd - 3rd century AD.
    Height 42 cm.
    The statuette is unfinished, and details such
    as the Pandora relief on the front of the base,
    have been crudely blocked in.

    Found west of the Pnyx, Athens, 1859. [4]

    National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
    Inv. No. 128.

    The "Varvakeion statuette" copy of the
    Athena Parthenos statue by Pheidias.
    Pentelic marble, 2nd - 3rd century AD.
    Height with base 104.5 cm.

    Found in 1880 near the Varvakeion
    School, Psychiko, Athens. [5]

    National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
    Inv. No. 129.

    Detail of a relief of Athena / Minerva and her owl on a gold-plated silver plate. 2nd century BC.

    The relief shows Athena (or her Roman equivalent Minerva) seated and wearing the triple-crested
    helmet known from the Athena Parthenos statue by Pheidias. Around her left shoulder and breast
    she wears the aeigis. In her left arm she holds a shield on which is the head of the Gorgon Medusa.
    The tiny owl, the glaux, (see Athens Acropolis gallery, page 29) stands on a high rocky pinnacle
    draped with a victory wreath.

    For more information about Athena's aegis, see previous page.

    It is thought that the relief was made in the 2nd century BC, and added to the plate during the time
    of Emperor Augustus (63 BC-14 AD). It is part of a hoard of Roman tableware of the 1st century BC -
    1st century AD, known as the "Hildesheim silver treasure", discovered in 1868 in Hildesheim, Germany.

    Detail of marble gigantomachy (battle of the Greek gods with the Giants) relief
    showing Athena fighting the Tritons.

    Athena is in full fighting gear, with a crested Corinthian helmet, aegis and shield.
    Presumably she held a spear in her right hand, which is now missing.

    From Aphrodisias (Geyre, Aydin, Turkey). 2nd century AD, Roman Imperial period.

    1. See: Franz Winter, Altertümer von Pergamon, Band VII, Text I: Die Skulpturen, mit Aussnahme der Altarreliefs. pages 33-46. (The antiquities of Pergamon, Volume 7, Text 1: The sculptures, with the exception of the Altar reliefs). Königliche Museen zu Berlin. Verlag von Georg Reimer, Berlin, 1908.

    2. Pausanias on the statue of Athena Parthenos

    Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 1, chapter 24, sections 5-7. English Translation by W. H. S. Jones and H. A. Ormerod. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA William Heinemann, London. 1918.
    At Perseus Digital Library.

    3. Pliny on Pheidias and the statue of Athena Parthenos

    "That Pheidias is the most famous sculptor among all peoples who appreciate the fame of his Olympian Jupiter is beyond doubt, but in order that even those who have not seen his works may be assured that his praises are well-earned, I shall produce evidence that is insignificant in itself and sufficient only to prove his inventiveness.

    To do so, I shall not appeal to the beauty of his Olympian Jupiter or to the size of his Minerva at Athens, even though this statue, made of ivory and gold, is 26 cubits in height. But rather, I shall mention her shield, on the convex border of which he engraved a Battle of the Amazons, and on the hollow side Combats of Gods and Giants and her sandals, on which he depicted Combats of Lapiths and Centaurs. So truly did every detail lend itself to his art.

    On the pedestal there is carved what is entitled in Greek the Birth of Pandora, with twenty gods assisting at the birth. Although the figure of Victory is especially remarkable, connoisseurs admire also the snake, as well as the bronze sphinx that crouches just beneath her spear.

    These are things which should be stated in passing with regard to an artist who has never been praised enough. At the same time, they make us realize that the grandeur of his notions was maintained even in small matters.

    Praxiteles is an artist whose date I have mentioned among those of the makers of bronze statues, but in the fame of his work in marble he surpassed even himself. There are works by him at Athens in the Ceramcicus and yet superior to anything not merely by Praxiteles, but in the whole world, is the Venus, which many people have sailed to Cnidus to see."

    Photo of the statue of Athena Parthenos from Pergamon, taken before 1913, showing the figure with raised cheek flaps on the helmet.

    Charles Heald Weller, Athens and its monuments, page 299. Macmillan, New York, 1913.

    2nd - 3rd century AD. Pentelic marble.
    Height 34 cm, with base 42 cm.

    National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 128.

    The "Lenormant Athena" (or "Athena Lenormant") statuette has been dated by some scholars to the 1st century AD, while others believe it was made in the 2nd or 3rd century. It is named after the French archaeologist Charles Lenormant (1802-1859), who first identified it as a replica of the Athena Parthenos statue by Pheidias in 1859.

    After its discovery, the statuette seems to have been considered unimportant, and was placed in a corner of the Temple of Hephaistos (the Hephaisteion), which was then still known as the Theseion and used as a provisional museum 1834-1934 for the rapidly growing number of archaeological finds in Athens. Lenormant noticed it while visiting the Hephaestion with his son François Lenormant (1837-1883), who had accompanied him to Greece, and is said to have immediately recognized its importance. He informed the Greek government of his discovery, and Kyriakos Pittakis, Ephor of Antiquities, arranged to have the sculpture photographed by the Athenian photographer Calphas.

    Charles Lenormant caught a fever and died in Athens in November of the same year, and his son wrote the first description of the statuette in his article La Minerve du Parthenon, published in the Gazette de Beaux Arts in 1860.

    François Lenormant, La Minerve du Parthenon. Reprint of the article in French, published by L'Imprimerie de Jules Clave, Paris, 1860. At Googlebooks.

    The left side of the Lenormant Athena,
    showing the goddess holding the
    shield with a relief of an Amazonomachy.

    Drawings of The "Lenormant Athena" by Edmond Lechevallier-Chevignard (1825-1902).

    From François Lenormant, La Minerve du Parthenon. Paris, 1860.

    Dicovered on 18 December 1880 near the Varvakeion
    School, in the Athens suburb of Psychiko.

    Total height 103.45 cm.
    Plinth height 10.3 cm, width 41 cm,
    depth left 28.5 cm, depth right 33.3 cm.
    Nike figure height 14 cm (without head estimated to have been 16 cm with head).

    National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
    Inv. No. 129.

    Detail of the Varvakeion statuette.

    Marble relief showing Athena being crowned by two Nikes.

    Athena wears a helmet and carries a shield held high. She also appears to be holding
    a spear in her right hand. The goddess is flanked to her left by an owl, and to her right
    by a snake. She stands on the back of an animal, presumably a wolf, which is suckled
    by the small figures of Romulus and Remus (?) beneath it.

    Detail from the cuirass of a colossal statue of Emperor Hadrian (76-138 AD,
    reigned 117-138 AD). From Hierapitna, Crete. Made during the time of Hadrian.

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    have been attributed where applicable.

    Please do not use these photos or articles without permission.

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    Replica at Nashville

    A modern copy by Alan LeQuire stands in the reproduction of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee. [12] LeQuire, a Nashville native, was awarded the commission to produce the Parthenon's cult statue. His work was modeled on descriptions given of the original. The modern version took eight years to complete, and was unveiled to the public on May 20, 1990.

    The modern version of Athena Parthenos is significant because of its scale and its attention to recreating Phidias' work. The statue adds an additional dimension of realism to the replicated Parthenon, whose interior east room (the naos) was merely a large empty hall prior to the statue's unveiling. The reproduced Athena Parthenos gives visitors the impression that they truly are inside an ancient place of worship.

    The Nashville Athena Parthenos is made of a composite of gypsum cement and ground fiberglass. The head of Athena was assembled over an aluminum armature, and the lower part was made in steel. The four ten-inch H beams rest on a concrete structure that extends through the Parthenon floor and basement down to bedrock, to support the great weight of the statue. LeQuire made each of the 180 cast gypsum panels used to create the statue light enough to be lifted by one person and attached to the steel armature.

    Nashville's Athena stands 41 ft 10 in (502 inches (12.8 m)) tall, making her the largest piece of indoor sculpture in the Western World. [ citation needed ]

    Gilding and paint

    Research was performed by LeQuire and the Parthenon staff to ensure the accuracy of the statue's resemblance to the Phidias work. [12] It stood in Nashville’s Parthenon as a plain, white statue for twelve years. In 2002, Parthenon volunteers gilded Athena under the supervision of master gilder Lou Reed. The gilding project took less than four months and makes the modern statue appear that much more like the way that Phidias' Athena Parthenos would have appeared during its time.

    The gold plates on the Athena statue in ancient times weighed approximately 1,500 pounds (680 kg) and were one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch (1.6 to 3.2 mm) thick. The 23.75-karat gold leaf on Nashville's Athena Parthenos weighs a total of 8.5 pounds (3.9 kg) and is one-third the thickness of tissue paper. The modern extravagance of gilding such a large statue pales in comparison to the lavish spending of the Greeks.


    Watch the video: Τσικνοπέμπτη στην Βαρβάκειο στην Αθήνα