The Agora

================================================== Agora originally meant "gathering place" but came to mean the market place and public square in an ancient Greek city. It was the political, civic, and commercial center of the city. Socrates spent most of his time at the agora in Athens discussing the serious issues of the day with anyone who was willing.

View of the Agora

Southern View

The Mint was an important part of any Greek city since each city-state had its own coinage. Athenians, primarily women, would walk to the Fountain House to gather water for their homes. Water came to the city from a distant spring through an aqueduct constructed of clay pipes. The South Stoa was a long, roofed gallery with a wall on one side. Inside, one could walk down the long corridor and see merchants in their stalls selling their wares. The stoa became meeting places for many philosophers and their students. Trials were held at the Law Court where juries, commonly consisting of hundreds of Athenian citizens, were asked to deliberate on the legal cases of the day. The jail was behind the Law Court. The Strategeion was the headquarters for military officers. Inside the Tholos, the circular building, the presiding governmental officials (as well as victorious Olympic athletes) would eat. Citizen senators conducted official civic business in the Bouleuterion. It also housed the official city records.

View of the Agora

Northern View

More merchants could be found at the Stoa of Zeus just past the Bouleuterion. The small building attached to the stoa is the Royal Stoa where the Archon, the chief religious officer of Athens, had his office. Athenians could view paintings depicting the Victory at Marathon in the Painted Stoa. At the Altar of the 12 Gods, animals were sacrificed at the beginning of each day to seek divine blessing upon the state.

Map of Athens (207K)

Artist: Ru Dien-Jen