Athens by James H. S. McGregor

By James H. S. McGregor

Revered because the birthplace of Western inspiration and democracy, Athens is far greater than an open-air museum full of crumbling monuments to historic glory. Athens takes readers on a trip from the classical city-state to modern modern capital, revealing a world-famous city that has been resurrected and redefined time and again.

Although the Acropolis continues to be the city's anchor, Athens' brilliant tradition extends a long way past the Greek city's old barriers. James H. S. McGregor issues out how the cityscape preserves indicators of the various actors who've crossed its historic level. Alexander the nice integrated Athens into his empire, as did the Romans. Byzantine Christians repurposed Greek temples, the Parthenon integrated, into church buildings. From the 13th to 15th centuries, the city's language replaced from French to Spanish to Italian, as Crusaders and adventurers from varied elements of Western Europe took turns sacking and administering the town. An Islamic Athens took root following the Ottoman conquest of 1456 and remained in position for almost 400 years, until eventually Greek patriots ultimately gained independence in a blood-drenched revolution.

Since then, Athenians have persevered many hardships, from Nazi career and armed forces coups to famine and financial difficulty. but, as McGregor indicates, the heritage of Athens is towards a heroic epic than a Greek tragedy. Richly supplemented with maps and illustrations, Athens paints a portrait of 1 of the world's nice towns, designed for tourists in addition to armchair scholars of city history.

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Of course, a visitor might assume that this confusion is the result of the near destruction of everything there, but the facts are very different. In its heyday, the Acropolis was equally disordered, if not more so. Pausanias, who described the monuments as they existed in the second century ce, gives a confused and confusing sense of it. So this jumble is an authentic part of the character of the site in its heyday. Oddly enough, this confusion is yet another representation of the great religious power of the site.

For twenty-five centuries, the most prominent landmark in Athens has been an architectural monument elevated on a natural pedestal. Long before the Parthenon was built on top of it, the Acropolis outcrop was this city’s most prominent feature and the core of repeated settlements. It is only one among a cluster of linked hills that have played significant parts in Athenian history. The Acropolis outcrop is not even the biggest hill in the immediate vicinity; that distinction belongs to Lykabettos, which has never played much of a role in civic life.

By modern standards the democratic character of the city was equivocal. Slaves, who did much of the work of the society, were not allowed to vote, though they could be given their freedom and might under special circumstances gain citizenship. Women had no political rights, though they did participate in ritual life and could hold important priesthoods. Children were under the control of their fathers until they reached age eighteen. Resident foreigners, of whom there were many, could not vote and could not participate in most of the city’s religious festivals.

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