The birth of democracyAthens, Greece
The Birth of Democracy is a history buff’s best friend! Find yourself in ancient Athens and meet the people who laid the foundations of Athenian democracy: Peisistratus, Solon, Cleisthenes, Socrates, and Pericles. Experience the journey from tyranny to the establishment of the democratic constitution and see the monuments that gave birth, propagated, and established the glory of democracy.
The Agora was the administrative, political, judicial, financial, social and religious center of the city. Since the time of the tyrant Peisistratus it was located to the north of the Acropolis. Peisistratus used his wealth and popularity to gain the support of the Athenian populace and instituted the city’s most important religious festivals (Great Panathenaea and Great Dionysia). When Athens became a democracy, the Agora was endowed with the quintessential buildings of the new constitution: the Boule of the 500, and the circular Tholos, where the 50 prytaneis were always ready to deal with emergencies. Close by was the Monument of the Eponymous Heroes with the bronze statues of the ten heroes whose names had been given to the ten tribes of Athens. The base also served as a notice board for public announcements.
Τhis is a majestic tour-de-force, richly endowed with classic stories about the heroes of democratic Athens: Pericles, whose mother dreamed of giving birth to a lion just before he was born; Aristides, who was considered the most just of the Athenians and who did not hesitate to assist in his own banishment from Athens; Themistocles, who rose to fame after defeating the Persians at the Battle of Salamis only to find himself an exile a few years later; and of course Solon, a merchant and poet who reformed the constitution of Athens and then exiled himself, believing that his institutions would function better if the reformer himself was no longer present.
The tour is perfect for those who wish to see every classical site of Athens at one fell swoop. In addition to the Agora and its magnificent museum, you get to enjoy the Acropolis, the Theater of Dionysus where tragedy and comedy was born, and Aristotle’s Lyceum where the great philosopher taught his students while walking.
1. Solon, the first legislatorHow did democracy arise? Which Wise Man of Greece sacrificed himself for the good of his homeland? How important are laws?
2. The Monument of the Eponymous HeroesWhich tyrant’s grandson introduced equality under the law? Who were the heroes who gave birth to the first tribes? If you lived in ancient times, which tribe would you belong to?
3. Ostracism. Museum of the Ancient AgoraOstracism, just or exile? Can you leave within ten days for ten years? Can you ostracize yourself? Did Themistocles ostracize and become ostracized? A series of ostracisms!
The Father of the Boule of the 400
Solon, the first legislatorIn Athenaion Politeia (‘The Constitution of the Athenians’), Aristotle mentions that Solon created a Boule (deliberative council) of four hundred members, ten from each Ionian phyle (tribe). The building where the council met has not survived, but we know it was next to Cleisthenes’ New Bouleuterion (council-chamber). Today, it is uncertain whether Solon really introduced this measure. It is supposed that the Boule’s function was to guide the work of the Ecclesia (assembly) as well as prepare the cases for appeal before the Heliaia, a meeting of Athenian citizens to try a legal case.
A monumental notice board
The Monument of the Eponymous HeroesOn the southwest side of the Agora stands the base of a monument that in ancient times used to be an important reference point for Athenians. On the long and narrow base of the Monument of the Eponymous Heroes stood the bronze statues of the ten heroes whose names had been given to the ten new tribes of Athens. The base served as a notice board. There, public announcement were hung on wooden boards. Citizens could find the announcements relating to them under the statue of their tribe’s eponymous hero. Over time, the number of tribes would change, meaning that statues would be removed or added to the base.
Ostracism. Museum of the Ancient AgoraIn 483 BC, the year of Aristides the Just’s banishment, something unexpected happened! It is said that while the names were being scratched onto the pottery shards, an illiterate man gave his ostrakon to Aristides as if he were a random citizen and asked him to scratch “Aristides” on it. Aristides was perplexed and asked the man, “What did Aristides ever do to you?” The man replied, “Nothing. I don’t know the man but I’m tired of hearing everyone calling him Just”. Aristides did not reply, but etched his name on the shard and returned it to him.
The team behind the stories at Clio Muse consists of a dedicated long-haired art conservator, an inquisitive bespectacled historian, a passionate feminist curator, and a gifted graphic designer with a permanent tan.
|Address||Ancient Agora of Athens|
|Starting point||Adrianou 24, Athens (Metro station Monastiraki)|
|Finishing point||Rigillis 10, Athens|
|Areas||Ancient Agora, Areopagus & Philopappos Ηills, Theatre of Dionysus|
|Opening hours||Ancient Agora of Athens: Daily 08:00-20:00 | Archaeological Site of Lykeion: Monday-Friday 08:00-15:00|
|Additional admission||A large part of the tour goes through the Ancient Agora of Athens. General admission: €8|
Why take a self-guided tour?
This is a self-guided tour based on the award-winning storytelling concept developed by Clio Muse and the fascinating narratives prepared by our handpicked destination experts.
You can enjoy each multilingual tour by using your smartphone or tablet at your own pace even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step-by-step as you explore all points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of our signature stories allowing you to tailor the tour experience to your personal interests and schedule.
After downloading Clio Muse app, you can access this tour and activate it any moment you wish and also repeat it any time. To best enjoy our multimedia self-guided tour (comprising maps, video, audio and text) we recommend the use of headphones.