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Agora

The monument of the eponymous heroes 

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Citizenship in Ancient Athens

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Delphi ducked behind the house of Simon the Cobbler.  He was a friend of Delphi’s dad so she figured she wouldn’t be told off too badly if she was caught.  She didn’t dare go any further, but she had a good view of the whole street. 


There were a group of men checking the noticeboards.  They were put up to show who had been arrested, who was on trial, who had been called up for the army or just the latest sporting or religious events going on in the city.  Delphi, of course, couldn’t read the notices and rarely got close enough to the board to read them if she could.  But she loved to listen to what the men said and learn what was going on.


It looked like there was going to be a trial in the courts today.  She could see the men lining up to see if they had to be on the jury.  


Athenian men would have to put their token into a small but clever machine, which randomly gave out a little copper ball, either black or white.  That told you if the city needed you and you might have to spend the day in the courts (though she could never remember if white or black meant you’d been picked).  


At least it wasn’t as inconvenient as being chosen to be a councillor.  They had to temporarily move in together into the Tholos, the small wooden house next to the court buildings, and deal with any problems the city had, whatever time of day or night it was.  That can’t be fun, she thought.  


Maybe you got to boss people around at least.  That would be fun.

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Monument of the Eponymous Heroes: Fact box

  • Living in a Greek democracy didn’t mean you just got to vote who was in charge, like democracy today.  A Greek citizen was expected to take his turn in the law courts, in the political assemblies and even take charge for a short amount of time!

 

  • The current rulers, one of which was drawn by lot from each of the ten ‘tribes’ of Athens, stayed in the Tholos and met in a building called the Bouleterion.  There they would draft out laws which would be discussed by the Assembly at the Pnyx.

 

  • This meant many richer Greek citizens thought the best way to live was not to have a job, but have lots of leisure time to spend engaging with the politics of the city, practising philosophy or enjoying the cultural and religious events in the city.

 

  • The Agora was full of monuments and temples, many of them celebrating famous heroes from Greek mythology like Theseus and Herakles.  You can learn more about these by visiting the Erechtheion on the Acropolis.

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