ATHENS


Athens was the most powerful polis in Ancient Greece. The people of Athens lived below the Acropolis (rocky hill) while the main temples like the Parthenon and the Erecteion were built on the highest part of the Acropolis.

Athens is named after the goddess Athena. Inside the Parthenon stood a gold and ivory statue of Athena. Athena was the goddess of wisdom and war. The legend tells that Athena and Poseidon competed to have the city named after them. Poseidon promised the riches of the sea, but Athena’s gift was an olive tree which was considered more valuable.

In Athens boys went to school but girls were taught at home.

Government

Athens was not a monarchy as it was ruled by the people as a democracy. The people of Athens thought that citizens could choose the government officials as well as vote for or against new laws. The people of Athens chose their rulers.

They held a large meeting on the slopes of a hill in Athens where any citizen could speak, and tell the government what it should be doing. This was called the Assembly.

Athenian democracy was not like modern democracy. Only citizens over 18 could vote. Women, slaves and foreigners could not become citizens. So democracy in Athens meant rule by the men of Athens.

Slavery

Slaves made up about a quarter of the working population on Athens. Most were people who had been captured in wars and sold to slave dealers.

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