History – The Walls of Athens

History – The Walls of Athens

The Walls of Athens

In this article we will see: “The Walls of Athens”, history, the chronicle of human civilization, serves as a window to the past, illuminating the triumphs, struggles, and evolution of societies over millennia. Through the study of historical events, we unravel the complexities of our collective heritage and gain insight into the forces shaping our present and future.

Summary : History – The Walls of Athens

The history of Athens is rich with tales of leadership, democracy, and cultural brilliance. From the strategic genius of Themistocles to the eloquence of Pericles, Athenian leaders shaped not only the destiny of their city but also the course of Western civilization. Through political upheavals, military triumphs, and cultural flourishing, Athens emerged as a beacon of democracy and intellectual prowess in ancient Greece. This essay explores the dynamic personalities and events that defined the Golden Age of Athens, delving into the political intrigue, societal dynamics, and cultural achievements that characterized this remarkable era.

History – The Walls of Athens

Of course, Athens was much more powerful than its allies. Some small city-states soon began to wonder if Athenian “protection” was synonymous with “domination”. However, there was no dictator in Athens. Themistocles was just a general, a citizen among others who had elected him for a specific role. When the assembly gathered on the vast square dominated by the Pnyx hill, any citizen could address the crowd. But they had to speak well. At that time, as in all times, there were merry pranksters who delighted in disrupting public meetings.

They readily heckled the speakers, who, if not in full possession of their faculties, became flustered and ended up babbling in a lamentable manner. The unfortunate ones’ ideas became confused, their words barely passed their lips. They were heckled and usually descended from their platform, red as tomatoes, forced to hear the mocking comments that surrounded them. It was even better when they were not made fun of their nose shape or their ears!

A man like Themistocles had nothing to fear of the sort. He possessed a refined vocabulary. His eloquence was served by a beautiful voice. Finally, his wit shielded him from the crowd’s jeers. In addition to these brilliant qualities, he had an even more precious gift: the ability to persuade people! He never openly imposed his will. But, through the force of his speech and using his personal charm, he often succeeded in winning over his opponents to his ideas. Unfortunately, it is impossible to please everyone at once. The multitude feels the need to change heroes.

The day came when Themistocles’s speeches lost their magic. His enemies shouted everywhere that he had become atrociously arrogant… and the Athenians ostracized him, forcing him to leave the city for which he had done so much. The new favorite of the people was Cimon, a big and cheerful general that no one, with the best will in the world, could call “proud”!

He ate and drank with the common people, jokingly threw jokes like them, in short, worked to give the impression that he was part of them. He had demolished the walls of his garden so that everyone could see inside and enter whenever they wanted. He kept an open table, without forgetting to keep a place for the poor. And when he walked the streets of Athens, he was followed by slaves who distributed warm clothing to the ragged.

Despite all this skillful propaganda, Cimon was soon exiled too, following a false move. Having decided to strengthen the (loose) ties between Athens and Sparta, he drew an insulting response from the Spartans, and his fellow citizens held him responsible. That’s life! The general who took Cimon’s place didn’t last long, poor thing! He was murdered. As a man of worth, only Pericles remained in Athens, a citizen who hardly resembled the others! Pericles was noble.

Of a peaceful temperament, he had studied a lot and was little inclined to hasty decisions that, too often, govern the lives of men and cities. He rarely mingled with common people and refused to flatter them, as Cimon had done. Unlike Themistocles, he never rushed to speak at the assembly. But when he spoke there, he truly deserved the title of “Athenian Zeus” that had been given to him. His voice thundered, his eyes shot lightning. One would have thought a storm was raging. And what a persuasive storm! It was impossible to resist him.

Some politicians, wickedly jealous, whispered that, thanks to his persuasive power, Pericles was well capable of becoming the tyrant of Athens or even its king. However, no one forgot that Pericles was the great-nephew of Cleisthenes, the promoter of Athenian democracy. He himself, moreover, asserted that he had full confidence in the vote of his fellow citizens. Thus, he was regularly re-elected for more than thirty years.

Pericles worked tirelessly for the greatness of Athens. Thanks to him, the city experienced a golden age where beauty and wisdom were honored. All that was best in Greece flowed to Athens and there, seemed to shine even more brightly. Hundreds of years later, people still marveled at so much accumulated wealth and called this splendid era the “Periclean century”.

The expression persists to this day. However, Athens, the precious navel of the world, offered some piquant anomalies. It was not a city where wealthy people lived in luxury, built wonderful palaces, or displayed masses of jewelry. On the contrary, the streets of the city were narrow and dark. The facades of the houses were devoid of any ornament. Their simplicity was so great that there were no windows: no opening other than the front door!

Last word about : History – The Walls of Athens

The legacy of Athens’s Golden Age endures as a testament to the power of human intellect, innovation, and democratic ideals. Despite the passing of centuries, the influence of Athenian leaders like Themistocles and Pericles continues to resonate in modern governance and cultural discourse. Their strategic acumen, persuasive rhetoric, and commitment to democratic principles laid the foundation for the flourishing of Western civilization. As we reflect on the achievements of ancient Athens, we are reminded of the enduring significance of leadership, democracy, and cultural excellence in shaping the course of history and inspiring future generations.

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