The Colonus Agoraeus

The Colonus Agoraeus The ruins of the old marketplace in Athens from The Greeks documentary

Bordering the agora was a hill called the Colonus Agoraeus. Around it was a collection of public buildings, many of which were important in the everyday running of the city.

These included:

The council house of the Five Hundred, where the prytanes or council members sat in regular session to amend and prepare proposals that were to go before meetings of the popular assembly.

The tholus, a round house where 50 members of the Five Hundred sat in daily session managing the day-to-day affairs of the city. Traditionally these 50 officials were meant to be present in the city at all times to act as a safeguard of democracy - preventing it from being overthrown by a faction of aristocrats or any would-be tyrant.

The Stoa Basileios in which sat the city's chief religious archon, or administrator.

The courthouse where juries elected by lot would sit in judgement on the many legal cases brought before it.

The city treasury, and next door to it a wellhouse.

Also here were numerous temples and shrines to the Greek gods, the most grand of which was the Hephaesteum, a large building dedicated to the craftsmen god Hephaestus. According to myth he had tried to seduce the goddess Athena, but failed. His semen had spilled on to her thigh, and she had brushed it off, but the ground on which it fell gave birth to a king named Erichthonius, the forefather of the Athenians. The temple was the most important shrine for the city's artisans.

previous page no next page