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Greek Mythology > People, Places, & Things > Athens
A to Aegyptus Aello to Agesilaus I Agesilaus II to Akhaia Akhaian to Alkman Alkmene to Anaetius Anakeion to Apaturia Apeliotes to Argos Argus to Arkhidike Arkhilokhos to Astyanax Astydameia to Azov
A city in southeastern Greece; the principal city of Attika (Attica).
Athens is always referred to in the plural because it consisted of several parts; the city was named after Athene (Athena) because, according to legend, Poseidon (lord of the Sea) and Athene competed for the honor of being the patron of the newly formed city; Poseidon created a salt pool but Athene won the competition by creating the olive tree; both of these divine creations were worshiped in the Akropolis (Acropolis) at the shrine of Erekhtheus (Erechtheus) Earthborn.
Athens was built on ground that had been occupied by several prehistoric nations but it was not considered a unified city until the eighth century BCE.
According to the historian, Herodotus (Histories, book 8, chapter 44), the original inhabitants of Athens were Pelasgians who called themselves the Krania (Crania), after that the people were called Kekropidae (Cecropidae) in honor of king Kekrops (Cecrops), the name was changed again during the reign of the legendary king Erekhtheus (Erechtheus) to Athenians and finally, all the people of Attika (Attica) were called Ionians after Ion.
The most significant advancement in government was the transition from monarchy to the system where three archons were elected to govern the city’s religious, military and political life.
The city was sacked and burned by the Persians in the summer of 479 BCE and what we might consider modern Athens sprang from the ashes; the age of Perikles (Pericles) (circa 469-429 BCE) was one of the most prosperous and energetic periods in Athens’ history with the construction of the Parthenon (completed in 438 BCE) and numerous other public works projects which included the Propylaea and the protective Long Wall which went from Athens to the port of Piraeus.
Athens had always competed for the commercial and political domination of Greece but it wasn’t until the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE) that all dreams of superiority were finally dashed; the Spartans finally defeated the Athenians after twenty-seven years of conflict and became the masters of all Greece and its colonies.
After the Peloponnesian War, the Spartans and the Athenians were constantly bickering over minor issues but the Spartans were magnanimous victors and allowed Athenian self government within reasonable limits; when Themistokles (Themistocles) (527?-460? BCE) rebuilt the Long Wall, which the Persians had destroyed, the Spartans intervened and tore down part of the wall so that Athens was still accessible in case the need arose for the Spartans to enter the city and impose “corrective measures” if the Athenians became too defiant or militant.
Approximate east longitude 23.43 and north latitude 37.58.
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