Athens: The History Of The City

1806 words - 7 pages

Athens: The History of the City

The Beginnings

The Athenians have made it their boast that they had never been conquered. Both Achaean and Dorian invaders passed them by, possibly because their rocky plain was far less fertile than the rich valleys of Argos or Sparta. Thus the Athenians represented, or claimed to represent, the purest and most ancient Grecian stock, descended from the gods themselves (Ellis). The initial name of Athens was Akte or Aktike, named after the first king, Akteos (http://www.sikyon.com/Athens/ahist_eg01.html). Her second name, Kekropia, came from the king, Cecrops, who succeeded Akteos by marrying his daughter. According to the legend, his lower body was that of a dragon. During his reign, goddess Athena and Poseidon were competing for the protection of the city and each one offered presents. Poseidon struck the rock at the Acropolis with his trident (the three marks can be seen behind the Erectheion) and a spring with salted water gushed up. With the blow also leaped the first horse, ready to serve the man faithfully, while Athena offered an olive tree. The legend tell us that all the men of Athens voted for the gift of Poseidon and all the women, for the gift of Athena. Because there was one woman more than the men, goddess Athena was selected and from her the city took her name.

The Era of Kings

Under King Cecrops, the city was founded with the name Athens 1550 B.C.? Cecrops built the city on a steep rocky hill that is known today as the Acropolis, and is also known as the sacred hill (Ellis).? Athens became one of the first city-states.?? A city-state consists of a city and the surrounding region ruled by a king.? Kings ruled the area until 682 B.C (World Book).? After rule by kings ended, elected officials called Archons ruled the city-states.? All of the Archons were male citizens who were elected to one-year terms.? Initially, there were only three Archons at a time, but eventually, that number increased to nine.? Once the one-year term ended for the Archon, they then joined a council of elder statesmen called the Aeropagus.? Council members served as judges in murder trials and prepared political matters to be discussed and voted upon.?

Another noteworthy king important in Athenian history was King Codrus, who reined about 1060 B.C. when the first Dorian invaders attempted to conquer the area known as Attica (World Book). The oracle at nearby Delphi predicted that, if the Dorians killed the Athenian king, they could not win the city. Due to this, King Codrus resolved to sacrifice himself. The Dorians avoided him in battle, so he disguised himself as a common soldier, went among the enemy, and, picking a quarrel with some of them, was slain. When the Dorians realized who the victim was, they withdrew from Attica without further struggle. The Athenians declared that no other king could be noble enough to take the place of Codrus, and therefore they would have no more kings (Ellis)

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