Athens was the intellectual center of Greece. It was one of the first city-states of its time, and is still known as one of the most famous cities in the world. It was named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the city's patron. In 508 B.C., Athens became one of the first societies in ancient times to invent democracy. Democracy came from the Greek words, demos, meaning people, and kratein, meaning to rule. This form of government was usually held in a meeting place, which the Athenians called the Assembly. Here the citizens of Athens met monthly and discussed the affairs of state. There were no decisions made by government without first asking the Assembly.
The ancient Athenians were a unique people. They believed that a person should be free as long as they acted within the laws of Athens. This gave them the opportunity to do well in any thing they chose to do in their life. Individuality, as the Athenians viewed it, was the basis of their society. The ability to strive for the best, no matter what the challenge, was what the Athenians so very much believed in. This strive for excellence was the method from which they achieved such phenomenal accomplishments and inventions. These accomplishments and inventions shock us to this day. They also believed in the balance of mind and body. Although many of them strove to become soldiers and athletes, others were interested in philosophy, drama, pottery and the arts. The two most important concepts, which the ancient Athenians followed, were found inscribed on the great shrine of Delphi, which read "Nothing in excess" and "Know thyself" (Connolly, Peter, 110). This philosophy greatly impacted the Athenian civilization.
Athens developed to a great industrial and naval force during the 8th and 7th century B.C. A milestone in the city's history has been the period of Pisistratus tyrrany (Kilvert, Ian S., 95). The exporting area of Athens economy reached then Sicily, Egypt, and the Black Sea. New monuments were built and the city experienced its first jump in culture and arts. Athens was also the prime fighter during the war with Persia. This war aided by the existence of democratic governing helped Athens become Greece's leading city and the center of an allied state.
The territory was not powerful enough to keep the Macedonian King Fillipe II (338 B.C.) from taking Attica and adding it to the Macedonian states. In 146 B.C. Athens was controlled, together with the rest of Greece, by the Romans, who although they were conquerors, they showed respect for the city and it’s personality. After the first years A.C., Gothic tribes destructed Athens. The integration with the Byzantine Empire was finalized with the shut down of Philosophic Schools, the changing of shrines to Christian temples and the general city of Athens. After year 1214, when the Franks occupied Constantinople, Athens was given to French dukes. Their successors were Catalans, Napolitans and finally in 1456 the...