Friday, July 29, 2005

The Glory That Was Greece

The Glory That Was Greece - An online resource for students of the history and culture of ancient Athens; features sections on drama, history, mythology, and philosophy. Includes annotated link directory, bibliography, and index of illustrations. The emphasis is on the city of Athens.

From the site:

Athens was the most beautiful city in Greece. It grew up at the foot of the high rock known as the Acropolis, which in the earliest times was the citadel that defended the city. The Acropolis had very strong walls, and the main entrance was guarded by nine gates, which must have made it almost impossible for an enemy to take, and there was a well within the fortress, so that there was always water for those who defended it. But history has told us almost nothing about the mighty lords who built this fortress or about the life of the people over whom they ruled.

But if history is silent, legend has much to say. The earliest rulers of Athens were Kings, and of these one of the first was Cecrops. All kinds of stories gathered round his name, and it was believed that he was not altogether human, but a being who had grown out of the earth and was half-man and half-serpent. It was when he was King that the contest took place as to whether Athena, the grey-eyed Goddess of Wisdom, or Poseidon, Lord of the Sea, should be the special guardians of the city. The victory was awarded to Athena, who, taking her spear, thrust it into the ground, whereupon an olive tree marvellously appeared. Poseidon gave the horse as his gift to Athens, and legend adds that, striking the rock with his trident, he brought forth clear salt water, which he also gave to the Athenians. For all time the olive was associated not only with Athena, but with Attica and Athens her city, and to the Athenians, the sea became almost like a second home.

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