|This article is about the Discovery Tour for ancient Greece. You may be looking for for other Discovery Tours.|
Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece is an educational mode for Assassin's Creed: Odyssey. Released on 10 September 2019, the mode was available as a free update for players who own the game, and also as a standalone purchase on Uplay. It includes 30 tours covering 5 different themes (Philosophy, Architecture, Daily Life, War, and Mythology) lead by 5 different tour guides (Aspasia, Barnabas, Markos, Herodotos and Leonidas I of Sparta). The tours can be experienced using 36 unique avatars and 15 mounts, accessible by progressing through Discovery Tour objectives, and each one has a interactive quiz at its end.
- 1 Tours
- 1.1 Daily Life
- 1.2 Politics and Philosophy
- 1.3 Art, Religion, and Myths
- 1.4 Battles and Wars
- 1.5 Famous Cities
- 2 Discovery Sites
- 2.1 Abantis Islands
- 2.2 Achaia
- 2.3 Andros
- 2.4 Argolis
- 2.5 Arkadia
- 2.6 Attika
- 2.7 Elis
- 2.8 Boeotia
- 2.9 Hephaistos Islands
- 2.10 Kephallonia
- 2.11 Korinthia
- 2.12 Kythera
- 2.13 Lakonia
- 2.14 Lokris
- 2.15 Makedonia
- 2.16 Malis
- 2.17 Megaris
- 2.18 Messara
- 2.19 Messenia
- 2.20 Naxos
- 2.21 Obsidian Islands
- 2.22 Pephka
- 2.23 Petrified Islands
- 2.24 Phokis
- 2.25 Silver Islands
- 2.26 Southern Sporades
- 3 Characters
- 4 Mounts
- 5 Timeline
- 6 Gallery
- 7 References
The Urban Household
Explore a typical Athenian home.
- Aspasia: Greetings, wanderer. It is my pleasure to introduce you to a unique tour – One that won't take you to impressive landmarks or famous battle sites, but through a typical Athenian home.
- Aspasia: My name is Aspasia. Though I am not original from Athens, I have climbed to the top of its social ladder using my wit and intellect. I've even earned the love of Perikles, one of the most powerful men in the city. The mind truly is a beautiful thing.
- Aspasia: If Olympos is Zeus' sanctuary, then my house is my own. It is a place where I can shelter myself from the noise and stress of city life.
- Aspasia: For an outgoing people like the Greeks, the house was a refuge of privacy. Inside, they could escape from the constant demands of civic life to enjoy the simple pleasures of family life. Look for me when you are done, and we can discuss the things you've seen. Farewell for now.
The house, or oikos, was a residence for Greek families and their slaves.
Contrary to modern houses, which look outward, the Greek household was built to look inward on a courtyard.
The courtyard was the house's central fixture. It was the building's main source of daylight, and also the location of religious altars dedicated to worship.
The building itself was made up of familiar accommodations, including bedrooms, storage rooms, a kitchen, and a living room.
Women were generally in charge of tending to the home, which in Greece was called oikonomia – a term that inspired the modern word "economy".
Certain rooms in Greek households were reserved for exclusively for women and female slaves. These rooms were known as gynaikonitis, or gynaikon. The gynaikon were entirely separated from the men's section of the home – the andron – by a strong door, and were frequently situated in the house's upper stories.Men often held drinking parties called symposia in their section of the house. Women, meanwhile, kept to their section to pursue activities like tending to their appearance, looking after children, spinning and weaving, and playing musical instruments.
A pasta was a corridor that connected a house's courtyard to its residential section.
Archaeological evidence from the city of Olynthos reveals that pastas were added to Greek home design in the 5th century BCE.
Greek houses were built on foundations of stone with mud bricks and woodwork. Their floors were packed mud – with the exception of the andron, which had a tiled floor – and their roofs were compiled of tiles.
In cities, houses were positioned next to one another, and usually had a room or shop that opened up onto the street. Windows were normally only found on the first floor, but rooms were arranged so that air could circulate through them from the open courtyard.
The houses were heated with braziers of charcoal, which also helped light surrounding rooms. Furniture, meanwhile, was very simple, and consisted of couches, chairs, folding stools, tables, blankets, and cushions. Archaeological evidence also suggests that many other tools and objects were also kept in the home, including vases, sieves, cauldrons, and basins.Legend: 1. Living Room 2. Pastas 3. Court 4. Entrance 5. Kitchen 6. Stairs
Greeks had no qualms about combining their work and their private lives, and many of them worked from home.
Artisans like blacksmiths, sculptors, and potters often had workshops in their houses. Some even operated small stores to sell their work. Similarly, doctors were known to treat patients in special offices located in their homes.
Women also worked in the house, and were responsible for making textiles, as well as producing clothes and supervising weaving, which was carried out by slaves.
If a household was wealthy enough, they could even produce a surplus of textiles to sell in times of financial difficulty.
Athenians supported themselves by carrying out a wide array of commercial and industrial activities. Most of the time, there was no distinction between where people worked and where they lived.
For example, in Aristophanes' comedy "Lysistrata", the character of the tavern keeper is shown serving wine in his own residence. Similarly, according to Demosthenes, the general Konon ran an entire business in his house.Teachers could even have schools inside their homes, such as the father of Aischines, who taught an elementary school in his house.
The inner courtyard was the nexus of the house.
Functionally, it allowed air to circulate, and also provided access to most of the rooms.
It also sometimes housed a well or a cistern that collected rainwater.
In the center of the courtyard was an altar to Zeus Herkeios, who served as the protector of the household.
Women would often use the space to sew and cook, while children used it as a play area.
Furthermore, if the family had pets or animals, the courtyard was where they were allowed to run free.
Based on scenes of household life depicted on ancient vases, Greek children had many different ways to entertainment themselves. Artistic representations show them doing everything from spinning tops, to riding seesaw, to playing knucklebones.
Children also played with small figurines, animals, wheeled horses, carts, and dolls. Terracotta or plaster copies of birds and other animals were also common toys.Numerous dolls, such as a tiny figurine of a woman, have survived to this day. The dolls were designed with articulated joints in their arms and legs, which allowed children to manipulate them into a variety of positions.
The bathroom was located in the back of the house.
Much like today, it was used for cleansing and washing, although the Greeks used chamber pots instead of toilets.
Most bathrooms had a louterion that could be filled with water for washing.
Mirrors, razors, strigils, and sponges could also be found in the bathroom, along with small vases called aryballoi which were usually filled with perfume or oil.
The Greeks viewed hair as a symbol of life and strength. Originally, hair loss signified old age of disease, and the shortening or shaving of hair symbolized a loss of freedom. During the Archaic period, men who had long hair were associated with the aristocracy.
In the 5th century BCE, however, it became fashionable men to wear their hair short, usually in curls or short strands. Women, meanwhile, had long hair held together by nets, pins, or bands.The Classic period saw the appearance of even more looks, like the lampadion hairstyle, which involved bounding hair upward in a way that was reminiscent of a burning flame. Similarly there was also the "melon style" bun, in which hair was tightened to form a braided crown, and a Greek bun with a high knot.
Greek homes had kitchens where the family's meals were prepared.
The Greeks did not often eat meat, except during special occasions like banquets or after sacrifices.
They had a mainly grain-based diet, eating staples such as bread, porridge, or a barley cake called maza.
They also occasionally ate poultry, fish, and other sea food, as well as fruits, vegetables, goat milk and cheese, and olive oil.
Food was cooked on a tripod, or sometimes in a klibanos, which was a sort of mobile oven.
Other cooking implements included braziers, mortars and pestles, a spit to hold food over a fire, platters, and frying pans.
The family also used the kitchen to store food in containers called pithoi.
According to Hippokrates, some Greeks ate only one meal a day, while others ate two. The main meal was called the deipnon, and was eaten in the evening, while the second possible meal was called ariston, and was normally eaten around noon.
The deipnon was made up of three parts: a cereal staple called sitos, a main dish called opson, and potos – otherwise known as wine. The opson usually consisted of meat or fish, while the wine was served with desserts like dried fruits, nuts, and cakes.The Greek diet was on the Mediterranean triad: grains, grapes, and olives.
Symposia were major social institutions in Greece. They were drinking parties held exclusively for men. The party took place in the men's section of the house, the andron, where residents and guests reclined on special couches called klinai. Food was served on low tables set in front of the couches, while wine was placed in a krater in the center of the room. During a symposium, men drank, sang, had philosophical discussions, and played games like kottabos. Musicians, dancers, and even courtesans were often welcomed to attend as well. However, wives and daughters were always excluded. Learn More: The most popular game at symposia was the kottabos. The game consisted of flicking an almost-empty wine cup to project the remainder of the wine at a specific target. The target was generally a terracotta vessel either floating in a bowl of water or balanced on a stand, and the objective of the game was to use the wine dregs to sink the vessel or knock it down. Another popular symposium game involved the singing of skolia. Skolia were drinking songs sung by symposiasts in turns. Participants would pass around a sprig of laurel or myrtle. Whoever held the sprig would start singing, then pass it suddenly to another person, who would do their best to continue the song.
The pyrgos, or upper storeys, was the women's quarter of the house, where they could pursue their activities and observe the city without been seen themselves.
The rooftops were also used in a special rite called the Adonia, a private celebration held in honor of Adonis, which was reserved for women.
At the beginning of spring, women filled terracotta pots with soil and lettuce seeds, then climbed a ladder to place the pots on the rooftop.
These pots served as the women's very own "Gardens of Adonis".
The Adonia festival was linked closely to the myth of Adonis, a mortal who was beloved by the goddess Aprodite. After incurring Artemis' wrath, Adonis was killed by a boar, and from his spilled blood bloomed flowers.
The commemoration of Adonis' tragic death was central to the Adonia celebration. The participating women danced, sang, and ritually mourned Adonis by setting pots of plants on their rooftops that quickly germinated and withered. Because of this, the phrase "Gardens of Adonis" was often used proverbally by Greeks to describle something trivial and wasteful.After the rooftop ceremony, the women descended into the streets for a funeral procession. When the procession was over, they buried small statues of the gods, then celebrated by drinking wine and playing games.
- Aspasia: I hope now you have a better understanding of the routines and home life of the Greek people. What would you like to do next?
- Aspasia: Then let's start with a simple question. Which group of people celebrated the Adonia?
- Aspasia: Correct! The Adonia was celebrated by women of all stations. Let's move on to the next question.
- Aspasia: Which of the following was known as the "protector of the household"?
- Aspasia: Yes! Zeus Herkeios protected the household, and an altar to the god usually stood in the center of the house's courtyard. On to the final question.
- Aspasia: Which of the following was not located in the bathroom?
- Aspasia: The louterion was a water basin that was located in the bathroom. Try a different answer.
- Aspasia: Correct! The klibanos was a mobile oven usually found in the kitchen.
- Aspasia: I'm afraid mirrors were quite common in bathrooms. Keep trying.
- Aspasia: It seems you really know your way around Greek homes. Well done, wanderer.
("Take me to the next suggested tour.")
- Aspasia: As you wish. Come with me.
("Take me to a random tour.")
([LEAVE] "That's all for now.")
- Aspasia: Farewell, wanderer, and thank you for visiting my city.
Visit the island of Thasos, and learn about ancient winemaking techniques.
- Markos: Ah, my friend! How fortuitous to run into you in this most intoxicating place. I'd offer you a drink, but for some reason the workers won't let me borrow any of their wine. Cheapskates.
- Markos: Why, I'm Markos, of course! Only one of the most successful merchants in all of Greece. You really haven't heard of me?
My name is known from Kephallonia to Kos! If you've ever paid money for something, I probably received a percentage. But enough about me. Let's go back to what you're doing here.
- Markos: You know, I once started my own wine business on Kos. It hit a bit of a snag when my investors, three brothers calling themselves "The Cerberos", suddenly lost faith in me. But after they had a tragic run-in with a bloodthirsty misthios, I was able to land on my feet. From then on, the streets of Kos overflowed with wine, and my purse overflowed with drachmae! Very sad about the Cerberos, though. Couldn't have happened to nicer people.
- Markos: As you can probably tell by all the grapes, this is one of Greece's many vineyards. Wine was an essential part of Greek culture, and this tour will take you through how it was made. In addition to being delicious, not to mention lucrative, wine was an important part of Greek economy. I promise I'll meet you at the end of your visit, my friend. See you soon!
Winemaking dates back to the 4th or 3rd millennium BCE.
It became widespread in Greece during the Bronze Age, and within centuries the Greeks had refined it further.
The first step in the process was always harvesting, where grapes grown on rows of vines were collected by vineyard workers.
According to Homer, harvesting was often accompanied by music to give it a more festive atmosphere.
Ancient Greek wine mainly came in three different varieties: austeros, glukazon and autokratos. It could be flavoured with spices, herbs, resin, and even perfume.
It was also much stronger than modern wine, with an alcohol percentage of approximately sixteen percent.
Because of this, the drink was mixed with water to make it more palatable.
The god Dionysos was believed to have introduced wine to mortals. As a result, there were many celebrations and festivals dedicated to Dionysos, including the Anthesteria, an Athenian festival that marked the broaching of new wine from the previous autumn.
The Athesteria took place over 3 days. The first day was called Pithoigia ("jar opening"). As its name implied, it was dedicated to opening new wine jars and offering libations to Dionysos.
The second day, Choes (jugs), included jovial events like drinking contests, but also a solemn ceremony where the wife of the archon would be wedded to Dionysos.
The third day was called Chytroi (pots), in reference to the pots that contained the day's meal.The Anthesteria was mostly lighthearted, but it had a dark side as well. The Choes in particular was viewed as a day of ill omen, where ghosts from the underworld would appear to haunt the living. On this day, people allegedly chewed leaves of whitethorn and smeared tar on their doors to protect themselves from the wrath of the dead.
Grapes were dried to maximize the wine's sweetness and prevent it from turning into vinegar.
In most vineyards, the dying process involved laying the grapes out on the ground under the heat of the sun – then covering them at night to prevent them from accumulating dew.
When they were finally completely dry, the grapes were collected in jars, just as they are today.
The Greeks used different types of grapes to produce different kinds of wine. According to Julius Pollux in his "Onomastikon", there were 28 varieties of grapes, and they were often named after their place of origin or the method of their production.
The Byblia variety of grapes produced a wine called the Byblinos. The Byblinos enjoyed a great reputation among wine lovers, and even appears in Euripides' tragedy Ion during a scene set a luxurious symposium.
The dark-colored Pramnia grape variety, meanwhile, was used for the Pramnios wine, an appreciated black vintage produced in Icaria and Smyrna. The Pramnios was prestigious enough to have been drunk by the heroes of The Iliad and The Odyssey.On the other end of the spectrum were the Psythias or Psythia, white grapes from Ionia that produced a very sweet wine known today as Liasto.
The Greeks had many methods for crushing the harvested grapes. The most common technique was to use a lenos, a large "treading vat" where workers stomped on grapes with their feet. Alternatively, the Greeks sometimes crushed the grapes by hand using a strainer, mashed them with a mortar and pestle, or squeezed them using a tool called a sack press. Learn More: Wine had many uses in Greek culture. The liquid was very important for symposia, communal drinking parties reserved exclusively for men. During a symposium, a krater (mixing bowl) at the center of the room was used to mix water and wine together. Once diluted, it was shared amongst the party's guests, who drank it from individual cups. Wine played a part in libations to the gods and at funerals. Furthermore, it could be mixed with certain aphrodisiac or hypnotic properties to induce feelings like arousal or sleepiness. Surprisingly, wine was also used as a medical treatment for the sick, and women suffering gynecological problems were sometimes prescribed the drink. Dioskorides even described two types of wine that could supposedly abort fetuses.
After the grapes were pressed, the resulting juice was poured into large containers called pithoi, where it fermented.
Once fully fermented, the wine was filtered through an ethmos or sack, which separated it from the residual yeast called "lees".
The wine was then placed in a special storage room.
The room was dry, and the wine pithoi within were half-buried in the ground to ensure they maintained a consistent of fifteen degrees Celsius.
These measures ensured the wine wouldn't lose any of its quality before being shipped to market.
Wine from Thasos was considered to be one of the highest quality Greek wines, and was consequently produced a large scale to be exported to foreign markets. The Hippokratic treatise "On Disease" even listed Thasian wine among refreshing beverages that aided patients from hot flushes.In Athens and the rest of Greece, Thasian wine was at the high end of the quality spectrum. Archeological evidence of Thasian amphoras has turned up in places like Athens, Amphipolis, Pella, Egypt, and other areas around the Black Sea. Many of these amphoras were labeled with the name of the people involved in the production of the container, such as potters, workshop owners, or inspectors dedicated to ensuring the quality of the jars. These stamps also helped authenticate the origin of the wine.
When the wine was ready to ship, it was poured into storage containers called amphoras. These were smaller than pithoi, which made them easier to ship and display in crowded marketplaces. However, that doesn't mean transporting wine was always a safe endeavor. Sometimes, ships carrying amphoras as cargo would be wrecked before making it to their destination, losing hundreds of bottles of wine to the sea. Learn More: Athens was home to many taverns, and the establishments' managers were often mocked by Aristophanes the Comic poet. The taverns were called kapeleion or taverna, and sold wine, vinegar, and sometimes sweets and bar snacks. After a wine amphora was opened, the liquid was poured into a krater (mixing bowl) to decant. It could also be cooled by pouring it into a wine-cooler called a psykter first, then placing the psykter into a krater filled with cold water. When it was ready to be served, the wine was transferred to jugs called oenochoai, and was drunk in individual cups like kylikes or kantharoi. In Athens, taverns flourished in the southeast corner of the agora, according to the numerous amphoras, drinking cups, mixing bowls, and cookware that have been found in the area. Similar archeological evidence has also been found in the south corner of Korinths agora, suggesting there were taverns there as well.
- Markos: Ah, my friend! Are you drunk with knowledge? I hope you enjoyed yourself, learning about all the picking, stomping, and bottling that goes into making Greece's favorite beverage. Maybe if my customers understood how hard winemaking was, they'd agree more with my perfectly reasonable prices. But let's talk about something else, yes? What else can I do for you?
- Markos: You want you intelligence tested? Well let me tell you, friend, no one is more qualified for the task than me. Let's get started.
What container was used to ship wine to market?
- Markos: No, pithoi were big containers where the juice fermented into wine. But I'm fond of second, third, even fourth chances, so try another answer!
- Markos: Yes! Wine was stored in amphoras during its long journey to market. Here's another question!
- Markos: An ethmos was actually a strainer, not a container. Although both words end in "ainer", so I understand the confusion. Try again.
- Markos: The lenos was the vat where workers pressed the grapes. Keep trying, though!
- Markos: What container was used to ship wine to market?
- Markos: Which of the following wasn't a type of wine variety?
- Markos: No, austeros was a dry kind of wine. Try again.
- Markos: No, autokratos was wine of the medium-sweet variety. But don't give up yet!
- Markos: Correct! Thasos was an island famous for its vineyards, not a specific type of wine. Just one more question to go, my friend.
- Markos: Glukazon was the sweetest type of wine, and my personal favorite, but it is not the correct answer. Try another one.
- Markos: Which of the following wasn't a type of wine variety?
- Markos: Which part of the winemaking process created the grape juice necessary for wine?
- Markos: That's the one! The harvested grapes were pressed in a lenos, often by the feet of vineyard workers! Just try not to think about that last part whenever you have a cup of wine.
- Markos: Which part of the winemaking process created the grape juice necessary for wine?
- Markos: You really know your wine! You're as good with the facts as I am with money, and that's really saying something.
("Take on the next suggested tour.")
("Take me on a random tour.")
([LEAVE] "That's all for now.")
- Markos: If you say so, my friend! I hope we see each other again soon.
The Life of a Greek Woman
Learn what daily life was like for Ancient Greek women.
- Aspasia: Welcome to Korinth, wanderer. I have a special visit planned for you today. It's an intimate, informative look into the lives of Greek women.
- Aspasia: My name is Aspasia. Though I am not originally from Athens, I have climbed to the top of its social ladder using my wit and intellect. I've even earned the love of Perikles, one of the most powerful men in the city. The mind truly is a beautiful thing.
- Aspasia: It's amazing what women could accomplish while men spent all day trying to out-debate each other at assembly meetings. Their work should be far more appreciated on the whole, but we're going to acknowledge that now.
- Aspasia: Korinth was one of the largest cities in Ancient Greece. it had had estimated population of 90,000 in my times, and much of that population was made up of women. This tour will shine a light on those women, and look at how they lived on a day-to-day basis. Look for me when you're done with your visit, and we can discuss things further.
Young girls growing up in Ancient Greece cities were usually raised by a nurse.
They mostly stayed in the women's quarters of the house, the gynaikon, where they spent their time spinning threads and weaving.
While there is not much historical evidence of young girls at play, especially compared to boys, it was still known to happen.
For example, an ancient terracotta group depicts two girls playing ephedrismos.
This was a competition to see who could strike an upright rock from afar using a pebble or ball.
The game's loser had to close their eyes and carry the victor until they managed to touch the same rock with their hands.
It's estimated that the area that would eventually be known as Korinth was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period, around 6500 BCE.
During the Classical period, Korinth was a rival to both Athens and Thebes because of its control of the Isthmus of Korinth. However, under Alexander the Great and his successors, Korinth, along with many other Greek cities, lost its autonomy.
In 146 BCE, Romans under the command of Lucius Mummius besieged Korinth. Mummius killed all the male inhabitants and sold the women and children into slavery, then burned the city down.The Romans built a new city in Korinth's place in 44 BCE, which they later made the provincial capital of Greece.
For a young Greek woman, marriage was the culmination of their induction into society. The average life expectancy from women was about forty years, so most marriages took place when the bride was fourteen or fifteen years old. The marriage did not require her consent, either. Instead, she was passed on from the protection of her father to that of her husband. Married women were not technically citizens at the time, and lacked the rights that came with official citizenship. However, they did receive a dowry that only they were allowed to spend, but in the event of a failed marriage, to dowry was returned to the bride's father. After the marriage was consummated, the woman's status changed from being a maiden to a bride. She remained a bride until the birth of her first child, wherein she officially became a woman. Learn More: A male citizen's parents usually lived in his house along with his wife and children. However, ancient households in Athens and Korinth were normally not composed of extensive families.
Women living in Ancient Greek cities were essentially forbidden from participating in political life and most aspects of their lives were controlled by men. Their most important responsibilities were running the household and giving birth to children, preferably boys. Most of the time, women's excursions outside of the house were limited to visiting other female neighbors, as per custom. The few exceptions to this strict rule were weddings, funerals, and religious festivals involving women in prominent public roles. Learn Mre: Ancient Greek men dedicated most of their time to public life, but Greek home life was dominated by women. An Athenian or Korinthian wife was in charge of the household, and divided her tome between spinning, weaving, and sewing family garments. Meanwhile, duties like food preparation and child-rearing were usually performing by women slaves. However, if a family was too poor to afford many slaves, the wife took on these responsibilities.
Making textiles was the main occupation for most Greek women. It was a woman's responsibility to manufacture clothing for each of her family members, as well as to weave other household textiles.
Women with exceptional weaving skills were believed to make excellent wives and weaving in general was seen as a very attractive quality.
Similarly, many Greek vases depicting women weaving were combined with images of a woman holding a veil, which was seen as the symbol of a bride.
Some evidence of ancient weaving activities comes from an Archaic black-figure terracotta lekythos (vessel). The vessel depicts women weighing wool, spinning, working on an upright loom, and folding finished garments.
Besides weaving, another daily activity in Ancient Greece was fetching water from the local fountain house. The activity gave women the opportunity to socialize outside of their homes.
Women were also responsible for visiting the tombs of family members. Typically, the brought offerings and tied sashes around the grave steles.Women could attend public speeches and visit certain sanctuaries, but only if they were accompanied by men.
Ancient Greek women cooked in their house's kitchen area. However, since their cooking equipment was small and portable, they also sometimes prepared meals in the central courtyard. This was also where women performed other domestic activities. These activities were rarely seen by visiting men or passers-by, because the architecture of Classical Greek houses facilitated the social norm that women should never be seen at work. Learn more: Many Greek art depictions of women preparing food suggest that cooking was occasionally done in the courtyard, where they enjoyed fresh air. However, women mostly cooked in kitchen complexes located at the back of the house, where they would not be seen by others.
These hetaerae, as they were called, were donated to the the goddess by both men and women. According to Strabo, the Temple of Aphrodite contributed greatly to Korinth's wealth.
The hetaerae were the temple's main attraction, and many visitors came to Korinth in search of their company, for which they spent frequently and frivolously.
Learn More:In Athens, the legendary lawmaker Solon was credited with creating brothels with regulated prices. Brothels employed men and women of all ages, and were visited by a predominantly male clientele.
- Aspasia: Hello again, wanderer. I Hope your visit was an interesting one. Greek women lived restricted lives compared to men, but throughout it all, they held on to their strength and dignity.
- Aspasia: Feeling up for a test? Excellent. Let's begin with an easier question.
What was the name of the woman's quarters in a Greek home?
- Aspasia: Correct! The gynaikon was where young girls spent their days weaving and spinning threads. On to the next question...
- Aspasia: What was the name of the woman's quarters in a Greek home?
- Aspasia: The Korinthian temple said to employ the hetaerae was dedicated to which god?
- Aspasia: Correct! Aphrodite was the goddess of love and passion, so it's only fitting her temple served such an... amorous purpose. We're almost done. Just one more question.
- Aspasia: No, the temple was not dedicated to Athena. Try a different answer.
- Aspasia: The Korinthian temple said to employ the hetaerae was dedicated to which god?
- Aspasia: What was the name of Odysseus' wife?
- Aspasia: Yes! Penelope was Odysseus' loyal wife , who kept at her weaving while waiting for her husband to return from war.
- Aspasia: What was the name of Odysseus' wife?
- Aspasia: You passed the test, wanderer. Congratulations.
("Take on the next suggested tour.")
- Aspasia: Of course! Let's see what Greece has in store for you.
("Take me on a random tour.")([LEAVE] "That's all for now.")
Bronze in Argos
Visit the city of Argos and learn more about the sculpting of bronze.
- Herodotos: Welcome to Argos, traveler.
- Herodotos: My name is Herodotos, and I am a traveler from Halikarnassos. I retrace the various events, such as wars and great calamities. I describe what I see and record what I am told — all with the aim of providing a better understanding of why these things occur. Look for me to introduce you to many sites.
- Herodotos: I have always admired the dedication of Greek metalworkers. Without them, we would not have the inspiring monuments that stir the hearts of Greek citizens everywhere.
- Herodotos: This is Argos, one of the oldest cities in Greece. The Argives were an ingenious people famous for inventions in areas like military tactics. However, what they were most renowned for was their metallurgic artistry, especially with bronze. I hope you enjoy yourself. Look for me at the end of your visit.
The area that would become Argos was inhabited as early as the 3rd millennium BCE, but it was in the 7th century BCE that it officially became a city-state. One of Argos' major pillars was its metallurgical industry. As far back as the 8th century BCE, the city was famed for making products like long dress pins and tripod cauldrons, as well as impeccable body armor. In addition to their technical excellence, the Argives were also creative, as seen in their masterful bronze sculpting, which became prominent in the city during the 6th and 5th century BCE. Learn More: Archaeologists have discovered a unique bronze set of armor consisting of a helmet and corslet in a warrior's tomb at Argos. The bell-shaped corslet is the earliest known piece of body armor from Iron Age Greece. The corslet and helmet display both the technicall excellence and general sculpting skills Argos was known for.
Bronze is an alloy composed of ninety percent copper and ten percent tin. Because of this, copper and tin needed to be smelted and combined to create the material needed for sculpting. After the bronze alloy was formed, it was melted in special furnaces. They required a tremendous amount of fuel, and were usually supplied with charcoal made from specific types of wood. It's possible they were also coated with a protective lining of clay, which would have been sensible given the melting point of bronze is approximately 950 degrees Celsius. Once the required bronze was melted and collected, the furnaces were dismantled and dumped. Learn More: "Black bronze" is a modern term for ancient bronze artifacts with a fine black patina. Examples of black bronze include a special class of prestigious but non-functional Mycenaean bronze daggers that date back to the 2nd millennium BCE. The daggers were decorated with black inlay and gold and silver foil using a technique called "painting in metal". "Korinthian bronze", meanwhile, was the name given to copper alloys that were depletion glided to acquire a golden surface hue. According to legend, Korinthian bronze was originally created by aciddent during the burning of Korth in 146 BCE, which melted the city's immense quantities of gold, silver, and copper together. However, Pliny doubted the authenticity of this story, because most of the arists with worked with Korinthian bronze lived long before the 2nd century BCE.
- Herodotos: I see you have completed your tour. I trust you have a new appreciation for Greek sculptures, after learning of the heart and soul that was poured into each step of their creation. Now, what else would you like to do?
- Herodotos: Then farewell, traveler. May we meet again soon.
Sniff your way through the ancient Greeks' perfume making process, and learn about the importance of scented oils.
- Markos: Ah, my friend! I see you've followed your nose to this lovely... perfumery? Perfum-yard? Perfactory?
- Markos: Why, I'm Markos, of course! Only one of the most successful merchants in all of Greece. You really haven't heard of me? My name is known from Kephallonia to Kos! If you've ever paid money for something, I probably received a percentage. But enough about me. Let's go back to what you're doing here.
- Markos: A word of advice from a former perfume peddler: Never start your sales with: "You smell like you could use some perfume". It has a surprisingly low success-rate.
- Markos: This scent-uous little island is where perfume was produced. Your nostrils are in for a treat! Unless you're allergic. in which case I could sell you a wonderful remedy for a very reasonable price. No? OK then! I'll check in on you at the end of your visit. See you soon, my friend!
- Markos: Hello again, my friend! I hope you see now how important perfume was not only for aesthetic purposes, but for Greek social hierachy. I wouldn't charge so much for my own bottles if I didn't know the value of what I was selling. What else can Markos do for you?
- Markos: If you say so, but I have a feeling we'll run into each other again soon. Farewell!
The Laurion Silver Mines
- Aspasia: Welcome to the silver mines of Laurion.
- Aspasia: The mines make me nervous. All those fumes can't be safe to inhale day in and day out.
- Aspasia: The Laurion silver mines were discovered between Thorikos and Cape Sounion near Athens. They were rich in mineral galena, and provided Athens with much of the silver necessary to mint its currency. Because of this, the mines were invaluable to the city, and the resources they provided helped turn Athens into one of the most powerful states in Greece. We will meet again after you've seen what the mines have to offer. Farewell for now, wandered.
Silver mines were extremely rare in Ancient Greece, which only increased their importance. Athens started exploiting the Laurion silver mines at the end of the 6th century BCE, and used its metal to produce its currency. Production at the mines exploded around 485 BCE, when an especially rich vein was discovered. The mines' abundant silver made Athens one of the weathliest cities in Greece. They also provided the resources necessary to build a fleet large enough to defeat the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. In short, the Laurion mines played an integral part in the emergence of Athens as a Greek superpower. Learn more: Athens's coinage dates back to around 530 BCE. The abundant resources from the Laurion mines allowed the city to mint a prolific coinage renowned for the quality of its silver. Like modern currency, Athens's coins had different values and weighs. The most-struck denomination was the tetradrachm, which weighed 17.20m grams. The coin, as its name implies, was worth four (tetras) drachmae. The smallest coins - and the ones most commonly used in the agora - were the triobol (2.15g), the obol (0.72g), and hemiobol (0.369).
Exploiting the mines' resources required a lot of labor. To meet this requirement and save on cost, Athens leased out mining concessions to its citizens, who had their slaves to do most of the work, alongside poor day-laborers. In the 5th century BCE alone, there were anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 people toiling in the mines of Laurion. Together, the workers managed to produce an estimated twenty tons of silver per year. Learn more: Ancient Greeks extracted a number of different metals like gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, iron, and mercury. The most precious metals, silver and gold, were appreciated for their quality and rarity. They were used to produce coins, but also jewelry, other luxury objects, and even statues like the gold and ivory statue of Athena Parthenos. Most metals were traded in the form of ingots.
Mining in Laurion was a two-step process. First, the ore was extracted, and then it was refined. It took about sixteen kilograms of raw ore to produce a single pure silver drachma of about four grams. Recovered artifacts from the mines provide some insight into the specifics of the mining process. Galleries were dug to follow the veins of ore. They were small, and did not offer much space for the workers. They were also hand cut, it's believed that it ook whole days to dig only a few containers. Once the galleries finally reached the veins, the ore was extracted and then crushed on mortar stone to prepare it for washing. Learn more: During the Peloponnesian War, the Spartans occipied and fortified Dekelia, cutting Athens off from important roads. The slaves in Laurion took advantage of this opportunity, and 20,000 of them fled the mines. Because of this, silver extraction in Laurion ceased. The closing of the Laurion mines had a significant impact on Athens's economy. Its treasury gradually emptied, and it was left with no funds to rebuild its fleet. Deprived of resources, Athens was forced to melt two gold statues of Athena Nike to strike gold coins. The city also produced bronze coins covered in a thin silver layer to imitate and replace its tetradrachms — a move that was criticized by the comic playwright Aristophanes. In 404 BCE, when the Peloponnesian War was over, the mining of silver was virtually non-existent. it was only decades later, in 370 BCE, that entrepreneurs started leasing mines again. However, when Alexander the Great obtained a large amount of Persian silver in his conquests, the price of silver dropped so much that the yields from the mines were no longer enough to cover their running costs.
Mine workers used washeries to help clean rock from the ore. The washing process required a large supply of warer, but Laurion was an infamously dry region. To compensate, cisterns were built in the mining area to collect and conserve seasonal rainwater. Once enough water had accumulated, workers poured it into wooden troughs containing rock and ore. The water's flow separated the lighter grains of rock from the heavier ore, which was caught in depressions at the bottom of the trough. The newly cleaned ore was collected for refinement, and the water was redirected back into a tank to be reused later. Learn more The concept of using water to separate ore from rock is still applied today by modern gold miners.
Once the ore was clean and dry, it was ready for smelting. It's purpose was to isolate the silver in the ore. To do this, the ore was placed in a conical furnance filled with combustible charcoal. Bellows pumped air into the furnance to control the temperature. Inside, the ore burned, emitting a toxic smoke that was evacuated through a chimney. Eventually, the silver alloy was separated from the slag and collected for the last step in the refinement process: cupellation. Cupellation removed any leftover lead from the silver. The smelted alloy was placed in a cupel, an absorbent bowl made of bone ashes. It was then put in a furnance, where it absorbed the lead and left only silver behind. Learn more The furnances used for smelting and cupellation required an enormous amount of fuel. Based on evidence from South American silver mines exploited under similar conditions, it's estimated that Ancient Greek mines required 10,000 tons of charcoal to produce one ton of silver.
While the mines of Laurion belonged to Athens, the city frequently leased them to private citizens who exploited the site from anywhere from three to ten years. These citizens enlisted slaves and poor day-laborers to carry out most of the work. The workers had a very low life expectancy — about three to five years — due to the hazardous working conditions. The dangers they faced included toxic lead vapor in the air and lung-choking dust in the galleries. However, they were fed well enough to keep up their work, and their combined labor managed to produce an estimated twenty tons of silver a year. Learn more: The Athenian politician Nikias once bought a Thracian slave named Sosias for one talent — the equivalent of 6,000 drachmae, and 30-40 times more than the normal price of a slave. The reason for Sosias' high price was that he was an expert in searching for and finding silver tunnels. Because of this, Nikias installed Sosias as the administrator of the 1,000 slaves he already had working at the Laurion silver mines. Nikias' purchase paid off, and according to Lysias, the politician eventually accumulated a fortune of one hundred talents from his mining business.
- Aspasia: I hope you enjoy your trip through the mines. We talk so much of Athens' glory, but we often forget the city's power was due to tremendous amounts of work — work that often had a great human cost. What else would you like to do?
- Aspasia: Farewell, wanderer. Best of luck on your journeys.
Wheat and Agriculture
See how Ancient Greeks gew and cultivated one of the most important parts of their diet.
- Markos: Greets, my friend! Welcome to Arkadia, home of shepherds, sheep and shi — er, manure.
- Markos: I recently made an offer to buy some nearby farmland. Unfortunately, the owner refused based on completely unsubstantiated rumors that I once burned down three farms in Kos. Can you believe it? I've never burned down a farm in my life! I may have once paid someone to do so, but I assure you my reasons were entirely acceptable and in the best interest of everyone involved.
- Markos: Arkadia was well-known for its sublime natural vistas. Farmers and shepherds were seduced by its beauty, and it's easy to see why! I have to leave for now, but I'll meet you again when you finish your visit. Until then, my friend!
- Markos: My friend, good to see you again! You must feel hungry! I know I would, spending all that time watching farmers working themselves to the bone. Now, what else can I do for you?
- Markos: Safe travels, my friend! We'd better be seeing each other again soon.
Pottery in Athens
Aspasia: Hello, wanderer. May I introduce you to the Kerameikos, the kiln that warms all of Athens' pottery? ("Who are you?") Aspasia: My name is Aspasia. Though I am not original from Athens, I have climbed to the top of its social ladder using my wit and intellect. I've even earned the love of Perikles, one of the most powerful men in the city. The mind truly is a beautiful thing. ("What do you think of this place?") Aspasia: The art produced here is some of the most beautiful in the Greek world. I envy the potters' skill, though I’m not quite as envious of their clay-stained hands. It’s bad for the nails. ("I would like to begin the tour.") Aspasia:...
The Kerameikos was a large, sprawling area northwest of Athens's akropolis. While part of it was used as a graveyard, it was also dedicated to the creation of pottery. The Kerameikos was so significant to the art form that its name lives on in the word "ceramics". Perhaps drawn by the river, potters moved into the area and formed their own bustling community. It's believed that by the end of the 5th century BCE, hundreds of thousands of pottery vessels had been made in Athens, including everything from heavy, undecorated cooking pots, to delicates and beautiful containers reserved for the most precious oils. Sadly, only around one percent of these works survive today, some only in small fragments. Learn more: Unfortunately, no ancient manuals for making pottery have survived to the present day, and there is only limited visual and textual evidence to explain how ceramic works were created. However, the vases themselves provide a few clues. Some pots were decorated with behind-the-scenes glimpses of potters and painters at work. These visual narratives, along with the texts of ancient authors, suggest that pottery-making was a family affair, with fathers teaching their sons the craft at a young age. One base even shows a woman working as a painter, which again suggests that pottery-making was a family business.
Aspasia: You've returned. As you can see pottery is... ("I'm ready for a quiz.") Aspasia: Then let’s get right to it. Starting with an easy one. What was responsible for the orange-red color of most Athenian vases? ("Paint.") ("Leaves.") ("Blood.") ("Iron.") Aspasia: Correct! Athenian potters... ("Can you repeat the question?") ("Take me to the next suggested tour.") ("Take me to a random tour.") ([LEAVE] "That's all for now.") Aspasia: Then we must part ways, at least for now. Farewell, wanderer.
Dyeing and Fashion
Learn how ancient Greeks made the dyes that colored their clothes and accessories.
("Who are you?") ("What do you think of this place?") ("Let's begin the tour.")
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Politics and Philosophy
Sparta Social Classes
Learn about Sparta's different social classes and their conflict-filled history.
- Leonidas: Welcome to Lakonia, visitor. You're here to learn about Spartan society, yes? Then I won't stop you.
- Leonidas: Sparta is a glorious place, and you should feel honored to be here. Honored, and perhaps somewhat frigtened.
- Leonidas: Sparta had a unique hierachy, especially compared to the rest of Greece. Everyone had their place, and you will soon learn what those places were. I will find you again once your visit has ended. Until then, visitor.
Spartan society was structured around austerity, self-sufficiency, and a hostility towards foreign elements. It was divided into three social classes: citizens, perioikoi, and helots. Citizens were called Spartans, or Homoioi. They were free men and women with mostly equal rights and wealth, though their contributions to political life were extremely limited. The perioikoi lived in surrounding areas under Spartan control. They cultivated the land and were primarily merchants and craftsmen. They were also part of the army, and their lands were the first line of defense in the event of a hostile attack. Helots were Sparta's lowest class. They were people who had lost their freedom to the Spartans, and they served the city as slaves. Helots were considered property instead of people. As a result, they had no political or civil rights. Learn More: Spartan society was puzzling not only to other Ancient Greeks, but to modern historians, as historical sources are few and far between. In addition to the three main classes, Sparta's social system became ever more complex in the Classical period with the addition of sub-groups like the Hypomeneiones, the Brasideioi, the mothakes, and the Neodamodeis. All these groups were bound together not only be a fear of their brutal Spartan superiors, but also by the strict discipline that dictated life in Sparta.
Helots made up the majority of Sparta's population. According to Polydeykes, they lingered between slavery and freedom. Two elements made helots differ from other slaves. They were allowed to form their own families, and they were publicly owned by the city of Sparta instead of private citizens. Because helots were deemed public property, they could not be sold as merchandise. They mostly worked to cultivate the land, but also fought in wars alongside the Spartans. While they gave the fruits of their labor to Sparta, they also kept a fair part of it for themselves. This practice allowed some helots to make enough money to buy their own freedom. Alternativety, if a helot served the state well enough in military campaigns, they could also be granted civil rights. Learn More: According to Herodotos, the ratio of Spartans to perioikoi to helots was approximately 1:3:7. Modern historians, meanwhile, calculate that population of Sparta in the 5th century BCE consisted of around 12,000-15,000 Spartans, 40,000-60,000 perioikoi, and 140,000-200,000 helots. While sources are contradictory, ancient writers like Herodotos, Thucydides, and Plutarch say that helots and Spartans were at odds with eacher other. While helots aided Sparta in battles and military campaigns, they also frequently carried out attacks against Sparta's citizens. Aristoteles even informs us that helots were almost always prepared to take advantage of any misfortune that might befall their masters. At the same time, Spartans often treated Helots with great cruelty. This is especially evident in an incident that occurred possibly a year after the Battle of Sphakteria in 424 BCE. According to Thucydides, the Spartans secretly slaughtered two thousand Helots, all of whom disappeared without a trace.
The founding of Sparta is dated around the 9th century BCE.
Historical information about the city is limited, but it was known to extend into the region of Lakonia.
Over time, Sparta started encroaching on the territory of Messenia, eventually leading to war.
Sparta gained more land in this conflict, which they deivded between their citizens and the perioikoi.
The aftermath of the Second Messenian War from 640-620 BCE then divided the population into three groups: The Homoioi, the perioikoi, and the helots.
The helots of Lakonia mostly respected Sparta's rule, and did not cause much trouble.
However, helots from Messenia supposedly resisted the Spartans, although sources can only confirm one revolt for certain, which occurred in Messenia in 464 BCE.
Spartans deployed helots in military expeditions both to reinforce their soldiers, and to prevent possible slave revolts back in Sparta. However, the latter strategy did not always work.
In 464 BCE, Lakonia was hit with an earthquake that sources say killed approximately 20,000 Spartans. Seeing an opportunity, the helots took advantage of the quake's aftermath and revolted. The revolt was so serious that two years later, in 462 BCE, Sparta was forced to appeal to their Peloponnesian allies — as well as Athens — for military aid.
The Athenian general Kimon managed to assemble 4,000 hoplites to help the Spartans. However, the Spartans sent them away, worried that they would actually try to aid the helots in an effort to undermine Sparta's power in the Peloponnese.The Spartans eventually quelled the revolt, but it greatly damaged the city's foreign policy and diplomatic relations, making it one of the greatest instances of social unrest Classical Sparta.
During the 5th century BCE, helots were quite active in the army — especially during the Peloponnesian War. They served as hoplites on land as rowers during naval battles. In both cases, they gave Sparta an important numerical advantage. For every Spartan on the battlefield, there were at least seven helots. Although many ancient sources say Spartan had a hostile relationship with helots, they were much likely to treat them better in times of war. For example, when three hundred helots and 120 elite Spartans were captured by Athens during the Battle of Sphakteria in 425 BCE, the Spartans promised the helots their freedom if they served them well in combat. Similarly, around the same time, the Spartan general Brasidas fought a battle alongside seven hundred helots. Impressed by their courage and loyalty, Brasidas later freed them all and allowed them to join the perioikoi.
Perioikoi were another group of Sparta's population. They lived not in the city itself, but in its surrounding areas. The perioikoi were never hostile against the Spartans. In fact, both groups together known by the collective name "Lakedaemonians". Periokic cities had their own autonomy and sanctuaries, but they were always bound to Sparta. They were allowed to develop their own local laws and economies, but could never reach a level of prosperity that rivaled their parent state. Learn More: The main factor linking Spartans and perioikoi was military service. The perioikoi played an important role in the army, often backing up the forces of the Homoioi as hoplites. Spartans and perioikoi allegedly fought together in army divisions known as Iochoi. Thucydides' description of the Pylos campaign in 425 BCE mentions that of the 300 hoplites captured alive by the Athenians, only 120 were Spartans, and the rest were non-Spartans.
- Leonidas: I see you've finished. I hope you have a better appreciation for Spartan society. Nothing we do is without reason, and every man, woman, and child has a role to play. What would you like to do?
- Leonidas: Then you may leave. Farewell, visitor.
Learn the nuances of Sparta's unique political system.
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Sparta's political system differed from most of Greece's.
One of its most distinctive features was that it was ruled by two kings.
These kings belonged to two dynasties: the Eurypontids and the Agiads, both of which were said to be descended from Herakles.
Both kings shared equal powers, and disputes between them required the intervention of special magistrates known as ephors.
However, if one of the kings were more charismatic or experienced, they could influence the weaker king's choices.
Xenophon, who wrote the biography of the Spartan king Agesilaos, attests that the two kinhgs and the ephors exchanged vows on a monthly basis. He writes that the ephors swore to preserve the kingship, but only on the condition that the kings followed the laws of Sparta.Originally, Sparta's two kings always came from different houses, until Hellenistic period when Kleomenes III abolished the kingship of Sparta and placed his brother on the second throne.
Spartan kings had several responsibilities and functions. As lifetime magistrates, they were technically Sparta's priests and strategists, and their duties encompassed everything from politics to justice. Originally, both kings would lead military campaigns in times of war. However, from 507 BCE onwards, only one of the two kings could be head of the army. On the battlefield, kings were accompanied by three hundred elite soldiers for protection. But being a king wasn't only about working and fighting. They enjoyed special privileges as well. Spartan kings lived at the expense of the city, owned royal estates in the surrounding perioikic cities, and received the majority of the spoils of war. When they passed away, they were buried with special honors, and the population mourned them for a period of ten days. Learn More: During the Classical period, various kings of Sparta (Kleomenes, Pausanias, Archidamos, Agis II) were accused by the Gerousia of trying to pursue their own personal external policies. Furthermore, during the Greco-Persian Wars, the kings also ran the navy as navarchs (admirals), giving them power not only in their own lands, but away from them as well. The double-kingship and the supervision of the kings by the ephors, as well as other measures, were demostrative of Sparta's efforts to control the kings and limit their power.
The kings of Sparta enjoyed many important religious honors. They were in charge of sacrifices both during military campaigns and at home. The kings received double portions of the meat at all communal meals, and they were also the first to pour libations. They also personally conducted public sacrifices as priests, which helped remind their subjects of their divine connection to Herakles and Zeus. Learn More: One of the Spartan king's religious duties was appointing the Pythians — the people who received prophecies from the Oracle at Delphi. Pythians were extremely important to Sparta, as they received supposed "foreknowledge" that could help the kings prepare their military campaigns. Spartan kings were also believed to be descendants of Zeus. Because of this, they served as high-priests of Zeus, and enjoyed special privileges during religious rituals, as well as on the battleifled.
The ephors, or overseers, were give magistrates elected by the Spartan assembly. They were chosen from amongst Spartan citizens over thirty, and served for one year with no possibility of re-election. The ephors played a large part in administrating the city, and were considered the most democratic agents in the Spartan political system. They had judicial power, and ordered the dispatching of the Spartan army during wars. They also met and negotiated with representatives from other states, in addition to running the agoge, the Spartan education system. While not as powerful as the two kings, the ephors still held great sway over Sparta's affairs. Learn More: TBA
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Democracy in Athens
Delve further into the workings of ancient Greek democracy.
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School of Greece - Philosophy
Receive a crash course in ancient Greek philosophy.
- Aspasia: Welcome to the gymnasium of the Kynosarges, one of the many places where philosophers came to enrich the mind and enlighten the spirit.
- Aspasia: My name is Aspasia. Though I am not original from Athens, I have climbed to the top of its social ladder using my wit and intellect. I've even earned the love of Perikles, one of the most powerful men in the city. The mind truly is a beautiful thing.
- Aspasia: There is no better setting for learning than in a quiet place far away from the commotion of the city.
- Aspasia: Education held a very important place in Greek society. The most prominent educators were philosophers, whose teachings ranged from everyday rituals to the make-up of the universe. Once your tour is complete, come fine me, and we can discuss what you've learned. Farewell for now, wanderer.
Philosophy comes from the Greek word philosophia, or "love of wisdom". This concept was in direct contrast with philochrematia — love of money — and philotimia — love of honor. As of second-half of the 5th century BCE, Athens was known as Greece's capital of philosophy. Due to the rise of democracy, there was an increasing need for education beyond the basic subjects of elementary school. Athenian citizens needed to be able to participate in various functions of the democratic state, such as being elected for office, proposing new laws, engaging in military decisions, or simply defending their rights. Learn More: Greek philosophy was born in Ionia after the 7th-6th centuries BCE. The first philosophers dedicated themselves to natural philosophy and were called physikoi or physiologoi. The discourses of the physikoi were written in verse, similar to Homeric poems. But while epic poems explained the world in terms of gods and mythology, physikoi explored more rational causes for natural phenomena. The founder of the so-called Milesian school of natural philosphy was Thales, who declared that water was the principle substance of all things. Thales was the first to propose a material and rational element as a principle of the world. The Ephesian school was also interested in the natural world. Heraklitos of Ephesus posited that all things in the universe are in a state of perpetual flux connected by a logical structure called logos. According to Heraklitos, fire was the first principle of the cosmos. Due to Persian military expansion and political troubles, some Ionian intellectuals had to migrate and take refuge in Southern Italy, such as Pythagoras of Samos. Pythagoras founded a school in the town of Kroton, where had numerous disciples, including the legendary wrestler Milo of Kroton. Pythagoras is credited with many mathematical and geometrical discoveries, and he also belived in the transmigration of the soul after the death. All these pre-Sokratic philosophers were polymaths. Their philosophy was a mix of cosmology, mathematics, geometry, medicine and ethics, and the3 later sophists were inspired by the all-encompassing nature of their teachings.
Originally, Athens had no official school buildings for higher education. Sophists and philosophers taught either in private homes, or in public spaces like the theater. To recruit young pupuls for long-term curricula, they also held classes in the gymnasia, where young Athenians underwent physical training. The Kynosarges was a sanctuary to Herakle slocated in the south suburb of Athens. At the beginning of the 4th century BCE, Antisthenes used this sanctuary as a teaching spot for his school of philosophy, the aptly called Cynicism. Learn More: Perikles implemented many cultural policies that helped transform Athens into the center Greek culture. He invited philosophers like Anaxagoras and Protagoras, as well as other intellectuals, to gather in the city. As a result, many great philosophers were born in Athens, the most famous of which were Sokrates and Plato. The philosophical talent in Athens attractede pupils from all over the Greek world. For example, Aristippos came from Kyrene to follow Sokrates' teachings, while Diogenes came from Sinope to study under Antisthenes. Originally, philosophers and sophists taught in private houses, gymnasia, or public places. But during the 4th century BCE, permanent schools of philosophy began appearing in Athens, with Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lykaium being the first philosophical institutions. The schools included gardens, rooms for teachers, students, and guests, and a library. However, not all philosophers approved of institutional education. Case in point: Diogenes the Cynic, who lived in a barrel and delivered his teachings in public space. During the 5th and 4th centuries BCE, Athens was filled with philosophers, books, debates, and ideas. This lasted until the 6th century CE, when the last philosophers of Athens were expelled by an edict from the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.
Any free citizen was allowed to involve themselves in the Athenian democratic process. However, to truly influence the flow of politics, their speech and rhetoric skills had to be impeccable. As a result, many Sophists taught subjects like logic, reason, and eloquence. These were meant to help students achieve aretê, or excellence. But this specific concept of excellence was often challenged, especially by other philosophers. For example, Plato, Sokrates, and Isokrates preferred a more moral approach, and argued that rhetoric should be used as a means to serve the greater good. Sokrates and Plato went even further, declaring that philosophy and wisdom were not only useful tools, but also ethical virtues. Learn More: Sokrates was born in 469 BCE. His philosophy can be summarized by his exemplary lifestyle. When he was forty, the Oracle of Delphi said Sokrates was the wisest of all living men. He was puzzled by this statement because he believed he knew nothing, and from then on, he began an investigation into the truth of the Oracle's words by searching for someone wiser than him. In Athens, he questioned famous people of all professions to test their knowledge. He went to politicians, orators, poets, rhapsodes, and sophists, and their conversations were always the same. Using irony and refutation, he proved these arrogant specialists did not know what they thought they knew. He also tried convincing his fellow citizens to scorn money, honor, and prestige, and to instead focus on improving the wealth of their souls. Philosophy was Sokrates' only occupation. He never wrote any books, and preferred to teach orally. Unfortunately, this did not make him much money, and he allegedly spent his whole life in poverty, wearing the same coat and always travelling barefoot. In 399 BCE, the city of Athens charged with two offenses: not believing in the city's gods, and corrupting the youth. He was sentenced to death, and condemned to drink a poisonous beverage of hemlock. During his stay in prison, some friends tried to convince him to escape, but Sokrates refused, preferring to comply with the city's laws. Wise to the end, Sokrates chose to die instead of giving up his philosophical lifestyle.
Ancient Greek philosophy was multidisciplinary in nature.
In addition to wisdom and logic, philosophers also studied and taught math, geometry, music theory, and even medicine.
For example, the philosopher Prodikos wrote a treatise called "On Human Nature" where he outlined various explanations on human physiology.
Philosophy's influence was also great enough to affect medicine.
Hippokratic physicians were known to incorporate philosophical ideas into their work, and the treatise "On Airs" seems to be influencede by pre-Sokratic theories on air being the first principle of the universe.
The Platonic Academy was founded in 388/387 BCE, outside the walls of Athens. Its entrance had an inscription that said: "Let no man enter who has not studied geometry", and it is clear from the Platonic dialogues that Plato and his school spent lots of time studying math.Speusippos — Plato's nephew and eventualy successor as the head of the Academy — conceived a model of the physical universe that involved geometric figures.
The famed philosopher Sokrates had an ambiguous relationship with Sophists. In Plato's dialogues, Sokrates is potrayed as being in constant opposition with the famous Sophists of his time. Aristophanes' comedy "The Clouds", meanwhile, depicts Sokrates as a Sophist himself, constantly demanding payment for his teachings. Sokrates was in fact very poor, and made no money off his teachings. He also differed from the Sophists in that while they only taught aristocratic youths, Sokrates taught everyone regardless of station. Unfortunately, his controversial ideas and practices did not sit well with the city of Athens, and he was eventually tried for impiety. Learn More: Nowadays, the term "sophist" has negative connotations, and refers to the use of bad and fallacious arguments. This pejorative view of the word can be traced back to Plato, who saw sophists as his main adversaries. However, "sophist" is actually derived from "sophia" — the Greek word for wisdom — and originally meant "wise man". In ancient Greece, the sophists represented a new professional group that made a living off teaching specialized subjects like rhetoric and persuasion. Their instruction was meant to encourage critical thinking about topics like morality, politics and religion. However, the sophists were not an organized collective, and members taught their own individual beliefs. Because they taught in return for a fee, sophists' schools were only attended by those who could afford it — usually members of the aristocracy and wealthy families. However, they also showcased their skills at different public events. For example, the sophist Gorgias once delivered Athens' annual funeral oration honoring the victims of war, and Hippias presented at Olympia on multiple occasions. Protagoras of Abdera is generally considered as the first professional sophist. He trained his pupils to argue from both points of view because he believed that truth could not be limitd to one side of an argument. He claimed to be able "to make the weaker argument stronger", and is the author of the famous asying: "Man is the measure of all things", meaning truth is relative and differs according to each individual. He also opposed traditional religious values by defending an agnostic view of the gods, saying "Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not, nor of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life."
Philosophy was not only a collection of ideas, but a way of life. According to philosopher Pierre Hadot, his ancient counterparts had a daily regimen of "spiritual exercises" to combat their passions, doubts, and illusory beliefs. These exercises included meditation on death, contemplation of nature, or speaking with a friend or mentor. Philosophers also followed specific dress codes and diets. They were also part of a community of masters and students. These communities were created and strengthened in schools. Plato founded such a school in the early 4th century BCE, when he purchased a property in a grove just outside of Athens. The school was designed to groom students into "philosopher citizens" who coudl eventually rule the city in a measured and fair manner. It followed its own rules, and was open to both male and female disciples. Learn More: Aristotle was born in 384 BCE in Stagira. He came to Athens at the age of seventeen and studied under Plato at the Academy. He spent some twenty years in this school until Plato's death in 347 BCE. After travelling through Greece, he settled at the court of Philip II of Macedon in 343 BCE to tutor a young Alexander the Great. Aristotle came back to Athens in 335 BCE to set up his own school, the Lykeion, which became the city's second center of learning. The members of his school were called Peripatics, or "those who walk around". This was either because Aristotle taught while walking around the premises, or because there was a covered walkway called a "peripatos" in the gymnasium of his school. At the Lykeion, Aristotle set up a library that would become a model of the library of Alexandria. Research took place on a large scale, as evidenced by the titles of Aristotle' books; he engaged in physics, psychology, politics, zoology, and literature. Famous disciples also participated in his research programs: Theophrastos of Eresos wrote on botany and stones, Eudemos of Cyprus composed a history of mathematics, and Aristoxenos of Tarentum wrote a book on harmonics. After the death of Alexander, Aristotle was denounced for impiety and had to flee Athens. He took refuge in Euboea, where he died in 322 BCE. For Aristotle, happiness (eudaimonia) was the ultimate goal in life, and money, honor, and pleasure were only means to reach that happiness, not ends in themselves. Furthermore, since it is rationality that distinguishes humans from plants and animals, our purpose and function is to use reason. A happy life is thus a life of reason, and according to Aristotle, the life of a theoretical inquiry is the happiest life of all.
- Aspasia: I cann tell my the crease in your brow that you're already puzzling over the new things you've learned. Don't be embarrassed. Even the wiset among us need to ask questions before they search for answers. Is there anything else you'd like to do?
- Aspasia: As you wish, wanderer. Safe travels.
Art, Religion, and Myths
The Olympic Games
Take a day-by-day look at the prestigious Olympic Games!
("Who are you?") ("What do you think of this place?") ("Let's begin the tour.")
School of Greece - Music
Attend the Odeon and learn more about ancient Greek music.
- Aspasia: Welcome to Athens, wanderer. More specifically, welcome to the musical hub of the city: the Odeon.
- Aspasia: My name is Aspasia. Though I am not original from Athens, I have climbed to the top of its social ladder using my wit and intellect. I've even earned the love of Perikles, one of the most powerful men in the city. The mind truly is a beautiful thing.
- Apasia: Sometimes, when the burdens of life begin to weigh heavy on my shoulders, I come here, close my eyes, and surrender myself to the music. It makes me feel like I'm a child again, my mother singing me to sleep with a gentle lullaby.
- Apasia: The Odeon was where musicians came to share their songs with the public. The melodies played here caught the wind and drifted through the air, soothing the souls of Athenians across the city. Come find me when your visit is complete, and we will talk about the things you've learned. See you soon, wanderer.
- Aspasia: Hello again. I trust your visit was worthwhile, and that learning of music was a feast for your mind. I know it was for mine. Is there anything else you'd like to do?
- Aspasia: Fancy yourself an expert on music? Then let's put your knowledge to the test. Which of the following songs was played at weddings?
- Aspasia: Farewell, wanderer. I hope you enjoyed the sweet sounds of the Odeon.
- Herodotos: Welcome to Knossos, traveler, where the Minotaur once prowled.
- Herodotos: My name is Herodotos, and I am a traveler from Halikarnassos. I retrace the various events, such as wars and great calamities. I describe what I see and record what I am told — all with the aim of providing a better understanding of why these things occur. Look for me to introduce you to many sites.
- Herodotos: Some say if you listen closely, you can still hear echoes of the Minotaur's ferocious bellowing. Of course, it may only be a trick of the wind. Perhaps.
The island of Krete was first settled around 8000 BCE. Over time, significant towns and maritime trade began to develop. Palaces were built, destroyed, and then rebuilt, culminating in what archaeologists call the Neopalatial period, which began around 1700 BCE. This period lasted for over three hundred years, and is considered the golden age of the Minoan civilization. The largest palace of this period was located in Knossos—and featured mazelike complexes of workshops, temples, courts, throne rooms, and living areas, as well as paved roads and advancing plumbing and draining. Trade and external relations were important to the Minoans, and their networks extended across the eastern Mediterranean. As a result, the people of Krete and the lands they traded with often influenced each other and exchanged ideas, usually through peaceful interactions instead of military conflict. Learn more: Arthur John Evans was an archaeologist known for his excavations at Knossos from 1900–1931. He was so dedicated to his work at the site he missed his father's funeral to preside over the excavation of Minos' palace. Arthur Evans named the Minoan civilization after King Minos, but it is unknown what the Minoans called themselves.
The settlement of Knossos was established as early as the 7th millennium BCE. Today, one of the sites most notable landmarks in the palace ruins located on the Kephala hill. The ruins are split into two phases, the Old Palace, which has been poorly preserved, and the New Palace. The New Palace of Knossos had a surface area of approximately 13,000 square meters. Making it the largest Minoan palace. Its focal point was a central court which was probably used for ceremonial activities. The Minoan palace centers collapsed when Krete was overrun and conquered by a Mycenaean invasion from mainland Greece. However, the date of the final destruction of Knossos' palace is still unknown. Learn more: Arthur John Evans oversaw many architectural reconstructions at Knossos, with somewhat mixed results. In the negative side, Evans' restoration at Knossos, with somewhat mixed results. On the negative side, Evans' restoration of the Throne Room prioritized how it supposedly looked in the Late Bronze Age period, instead off representing the full spectrum of its history. Evans also overemphasized the Minoan identity of the site, leaving out the aspects of Mycenaean culture that influenced Knossos' art and architure. On the positive side, the site's reconstruction helped save many parts of the site that would have otherwise been lost. Moreover, while the restoration of some art and architecture was inaccurate, it did help evoke the elegance and skill of Minoan architects and painters.
During the New Palace phase, the group floor was dedicated to economic activities, and contained large storage rooms. The residential quarters—which notably had toilets—were located southeast of the Central Court, at the foot of the Grand Staircase. The palace was lavishly decorated with wall paintings depicting thing like bull-related sports and richly-dressed women. Large stone "horns of consecration", which were important Minoan religious symbols, hung prominently in the West Court. Other notable parts of the palace include the Theatrical Area, which is believed to have served as a viewing space, the Tripartite Shrine, which was dedicated to the worship of an important Minoan deity historians refer to as the "Mother Goddess", and the Piano Nobile, a grand space located on the palace's second floor. Learn more: One fresco excavated from Knossos in 1914—"Ladies in Blue"—has been reproduced for New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The copy reproduces and embellishes fragments that were burned or roded on the original fresco.
During his trips to Krete, archaeologist Arthur John Evans discovered several ancient tablets. They eventually led him to define the forms of Minoan writing known as Linear A and Linear B. The Minoans used these forms of writing for recording many things, including business transactions. For example, one clay tablet at the palace of Knossos was inscribed in Linear B script. The tablet detailed the transfer of coriander—often used in the perfume industry—between a man named Kyprios and another person named Twinon. The deciphering of tablets such as these has given historians great insight into many aspects of Minoan culture and society. Learn more: During the Middle and Late Minoan period, Minoans buried their dead in a terracotta coffin known as a larnax. Many larnakes were found buried in a cemetery to the north of the town that surrounded the palace at Knossos. The coffins were shapes like bathtubs or chests, and were often elaborately painted with scenes that were chosen for their funerary significance. They were also sometimes buried alongside valuable grave offerings. It's possible the coffins had domestic uses as well, functioning as either bathtubs or storage chests.
According to the myth, the half-man half-bull Minotaur was born after Queen Pasiphae slept with a bull sent by the gods as punishment upon her. This embarrassed King Minos, but he could not bring himself to kill the Minotaur. Instead, he hid the monster in a labyrinth constructed by Daidalos. Learn more: Depictions of "bull-leaping" were prevalent throughout Minoan art, and bull-leaping scenes are believed to have decorated the walls above ceremonial bull-rings. However, the reasons for engaging in such an activity remain unknown. Mythical bulls like the Minotaur played important roles in Minoan iconography. This is likely due to cattle being a vital asset in the Kretan economy, especially during the Bronze Age, Bull and cattle are even mentioned in various Linear B documents.
Daidalos was an important figure in Greek mythology. An ingenious inventor, he once became so jealous of his similarly-clever nephew that he threw him from the top of the Athenian Akropolis. As a consequence, Daidalos was banished from Athebs, though this did not prevent him from being able to get work. In Krete, he was hired by Queen Pasiphae to construct an artificial cow suit that would allow her to seduce a bull she was particularly taken with due to a curse from the Gods. Daidalos complied, and his invention helped facilitate the birth of the Minotaur. Afterwards, Minos conscripted Daidalos to build the Labyrinth, presumably as penance for his role in creating the Minotaur. But perhaps the most well-known story about Daidalos involves his son, Ikaros, who used wings built by his father and flew too close to the sun, thus plummeting into the sea. Learn more: Much of the story of Daidalos as we known it comes from the Roman poet Ovid. While older versions of the story exist in ancient Greek sources, they wary wildly in their telling and often contradict each other when it comes to specific details.
Some time after the birth of the Minotaur, King Minos' son Androgeos was killed in Athens by the same bull that impregnated his mother. An infuriated demanded that Athens send seven of their noblest men and seven of their most virtuous women to Knossos every year. After being carried to Krete aboard a ship with black sails, the men and women would then be cast into the Labyrinth to be eaten by the Minotaur. Learn more: Athens' donating of youthful men and women to Krete may have been based on a real payment of tribute to the Aegean's dominant trading power in Bronze Age Greece. However, this is only a theory.
One of the Athenians youths chosen to be imprisoned in the Labyrinth, Theseus, had enough of the morbid ritual. Before leaving Athens, he proclaimed he would kill the Minotaur, then return to his city on a ship flying while sails. Before entering the Labyrinth, Theseus met King Minos' daughter, Ariadne, who fell madly in love with him. Ariadne provided Theseus with a thread he could unravel to him find his way back out of the maze. Armed with this thread, Theseus entered the Labyrinth, killed the Minotaur, escaped the maze, and set sail for Athens with Ariadne by his side. Learn more: After successfully killing the Minotaur, Theseus set sail for Athens with Ariadne, but stopped in Naxos for a long celebration. Due to the many hours of feasting and drinking, Ariadne fell asleep and forgot to return to Theseus' boat, which departed for Athens without her. In another version of the story, Theseus deliberately left Ariadne behind. When Theseus realized what he'd done to Ariadne, he was so distraught that he forgot to change his ships' sails from black to white. When his father Aegeus saw the ominous black sails on Theseus' ship, he presumed his son was dead and, fraught with grief, threw himself into the sea.
- Herodotos: I see you've found your way through the maze of ruins. The Minoans played a large part in shaping Greek myths, but also in introducing influences from other places and cultures. Now, what else would you like to do?
- Herodotos: Farewell, traveler. I hope you enjoyed exploring the ruins.
School of Greece - Theater
Take to the stage to learn about ancient Greek theater and drama competitions.
- Aspasia: Welcome, wanderer, to one of the most prestigious places in Greece: the theater.
- Aspasia: I'd tell you, but I think it's best to let the actors speak for themselves.
- Aspasia: The theater was where audiences gathered to watch plays. They were the highest form of art in Greece, and people saw theater as a symbol of complete harmony between the mortal and the divine. When you're done taking in the sights and sounds, come see me, and we'll take more. Until then, wanderer.
- Aspasia: Hello again, wanderer. I hope your visit was entertaining. Though all art forms in important in Greek culture, non had the same prestige as theater, which provided a unique experience with every performance. Is there anything else you'd like to do?
- Aspasia: Then I will leave you be. Farewell, wanderer.
Gods and Love
Explore the Akrokorinth, and discover the relationship between the gods and romance.
- Markos: Why, I'm Markos, of course! Only one of the most successful merchants in all of Greece. You really haven't heard of me?
My name is known from Kephallonia to Kos! If you've ever paid money for something, I probably received a percentage. But enough about me. Let's go back to what you're doing here.
- Markos: It really is a lovely sight, isn't it? The temple, that is. Not the ladies. Although they are also lovely. Lovely, and lively, and... I'm sorry, what were we talking about?
- Markos: In Greece, many love stories were told about the gods. How romantic! Sometimes they were heartwarming and happy, but they often ended in tears, tragedy, and a whole brood of illegitimate children. I'm looking at you, Zeus! Anyway, this tour will introduce you to some of these divine love stories, which may give you perspective on how the Greeks approached love in their own lives. Enjoy your visit, my friend! I'll come see you again when you finish the tour.
Much like Athens, Korinth had its own akropolis, called the Akrokorinth. The natural promontory provided an excellent view of the surrounding territory. It was also the home of several sanctuaries, allegedly constructed in the 6th century BCE. The Akrokorinth's most famous attraction was the Temple of Aphrodite. Pausanias describes it as having statues of Aphrodite, her son Eros, and the son god Helios. According to Strabo, the temple's most distinguishing feature was its servants, who acted as "sacred prostitutes". However, Strabo is the only source for this information, and it is still hotly debated to this day. Learn more: On the eve of the Battle of Salamis, the situation for the Greeks felt hopeless. After their loss at Thermopylai, the Persian king Xerxes' advance seemed unstoppable. Seeking solace in religion, the women of Korinth gathered at the Temple of Aphrodite. According to the authors Pindar, Plutarch, and Athenaios, the women prayed to the goddess, begging her for something, anything, to stop the Persian invasion. It seems their prayers were answered, and the Battle of Salamis ended with a glorious victory for the Greeks.
Love played a large role in countless mythological stories. Zeus himself was not immune to the feeling ,and fell for both mortals and other deities. Some myths centered on forbidden feelings that led to tragedy, such as Phaedra's love for her stepson Hippolytos. While marriage was prominent in mythology, it was usually presented as problematic. For example, Aphrodite frequently cheated on her husband Hephaistos, and Medea's resentment against her ex-husband Jason eventually drove her mad enough to murder her children. These less than ideal depictions reflected Greeks' idea of marriage, which they viewed as a civic duty instead of a romantic union. Learn more: The Homeric "Hym to Aphrodite", which dates back to the 7th or 6th century BCE, tells a story of the goddess succumbing to the charms of a mortal man named Anchises: "But upon Aphrodite herself Zeus cast sweet desire to be joined in love with a mortal man, to the end that, very soon, not even she could be innocent of a mortal's love; lest laughter-loving Aphrodite should one day softly smile and say mockingly among all the gods that she had joined the gods in love with mortal women who bare sons of death to the deathless gods, and had mated the goddesses with mortal men. And so he put in her heart sweet desire for Anchises who at the time among the steep hills of many-fountained Idea was tending cattle, and in shape was like the immortal gods. Therefore, when laughter-loving Aphrodite saw him, she loved him, and terribly desire seized her in her heart".
The goddess Aphrodite was one of the mightiest Olympians, and was typically associated with love, beauty, and sex. She was worshipped all across the Ancient Mediterranean by men and women, both young and old. Her origins differ depending on the version of the story. The poet Hesiod says she was born from the severed genitals of Ouranos, while Homer's version of the myth names her as the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Aphrodite appeared regularly in mythological stories, and had many mortal lovers. Her favourite was Adonis, a beautiful boy who died tragically in a hunting accident. Aphrodite was devastated by his death, so she created a cult called the Adonia to commemorate him. Learn more: Eros was the god of sexual love. According to Ancient poets like Alkman, Ibykos, and Sappho, he was young and beautiful, but also cunning, unpredictable, and cruel. The tragedian Euripides later introduced a concept that Eros wielded a bow and arrows that inducted feelings of love in whoever they struck. Eros was also a god of fertility, and was allegedly celebrated in places like Thespiae, Athens, and Elis. On vases and in other art, he was usually depicted as winged and boyish, and was often represented alongside Aphrodite. He was also associated with women, domestic scenes, and weddings. Depending on the myth, he has had various different mothers, including Eileithyia, Penia, Iris, Aphrodite, and Gaia. Hesiod, meanwhile believed Eros was a primeval god who emanated from Chaos.
- Markos: My friend, good to see you again. I bet you were surprised by some of the stories you heard. For a bunch of immortal beings, the gods certainly were saucy, ah? Tell me if there's anything else I can do for you.
- Markos: Normally I don't let people go until they buy a souvenir, but for you, my friend, I'll make an exception.
Battles and Wars
("Who are you?") ("What do you think of this place?") ("Let's begin the tour.")
Battle of Marathon
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("Who are you?") ("What do you think of this place?") ("Let's begin the tour.")
Battle of Amphipolis
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The Battles of Pylos and Sphakteria
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The Akropolis of Athens
Explore the glorious Akropolis of Athens, and experience the sacred landmarks within.
- Aspasia: Greetings, wanderer, and welcome to the Akropolis, the shining jewel of Athens.
- Aspasia: Personally, I think the Akropolis is one of, if not the, greatest place in all of Greece. Though considering it was the project of my partner, Perikles, I may be a touch biased.
- Aspasia: The Akropolis of Athens is a bastion of art and culture worthy of the gods themselves. Within this citadel, you will find many important sacred buildings, as well as some of the most magnificent art in all of Greece.
You are in for a very enlightening visit.l When you're done, come find me, and we can discuss the things you have seen. Farewell for now.
The Akropolis has gone through many changes in its long history. It began as a simple rock, was settled as early as the Neolithic period, and then became a fortress in the Mycenaean period. Stone buildings started appearing in the 7th century BCE, but the famous structures whose ruins remain visible today date mainly from a period of construction in the 5th century BCE. The location of the Akropolis is closely tied with Athens' foundation myth. Supposedly, it was the site where Athena and Poseidon competed for the city's patronage. This connection gave the Akropolis a sacred aura, and it was considered the religious heart of the city. Learn More: After the archaic buildings of the old Akropolis—most notably the temple of Athena Polias—were burned down in 480 BCE by Xerxes' Persian army, the great general and statesman Perikles resolved to transform the naturally imposing rock into a huge monument to Athens' political, military, and cultural greatness. Thus began the most ambitious building program the Greek world had even seen at the time. Seven million drachmae were spent on the whole project, which has been deemed by UNESCO as "the supreme expression of the adaptation of architecture to a natural site". The Parthenon alone cost 469 talents—nearly 3 million drachmae, and the equivalent of approximately 12 tons of silver. To justify the massive cost, Perikles cited the need to immortalize Athens' greatness, but also called the attention to the jobs the project would create for hundreds of stone cutters, carpenters, metal workers, painters, and unskilled laborers, all of whom were grateful for the opportunity to make more money.
The Temple of Athena Nike was built on the remains of old fortifications from the Mycenaean era. Worship at the temple can be traced back to the 6th century BCE, but the building itself was destroyed during the Greco-Persian Wars a century later. It was rebuilt during the Peloponnesian War. Given that the name Athena Nike roughly means "Athena of Victory", it was likely constructed in the hopes that Athens would win the war. Unusually, the temple depicts historical scenes of battles against the Persians, instead of the more mythologically-inclined art of other Greek buildings. The temple's priestess was chosen randomly among the Athenians, and received of fifty drachmae annually, along win skins and trophies from sacrificed animals. Learn More: The area where the temple of Athena Nike was built offers a beautiful view of the southern shores of Attika, along with the ports of Piraeus and Phaleron. This noteworthy feature—as well as the Mycenaean ruins nearby—were the basis for the assumption that Aigeus, the ninth king of the old Athenian dynasty, watched the sea from here in the hopes of seeing his son Theseus returning safe and sound from Krete. Theseus, the most important Athenian mythological hero, had left for Krete under the guise of one of the youth send to feed the Minotaur. Theseus promised Aigeus that he would kill the monster and bring back the Athenian youth on a ship flying white sails, symbolizing victory and joy. The hero slew the Minotaur and sailed home, but forgot to replace his ship's dark mourning sails with lighter ones. When Aigeus saw the dark sails, he assumed Theseus had died. Stricken with grief, the king threw himself off the steep bastion of the Akropolis, meeting his death on the ground below.
The Akropolis was built up over a long period, due in no small part to its partial destruction during the Greco-Persian Wars. It was in the 5th century BCE, though, that the Akropolis received its most significant improvements. This period was an extremely prosperous time for Athens, both financially and culturally. With a booming economy bolstered by trade and the Laurion silver mines, Perikles, the leader of Athens, financed a huge project to rebuild the citadel. He enlisted the help of renowned artists like the sculptor Phidias, as well as the architects Iktinos and Kallikrates. Together, they erected buildings like the Parthenon, and the Propylaea gateway. Perikles' goal was to make the Akropolis into a glorious monument to the gods, and to mortal Athenians. Learn More: The history of the Akropolis did not end with the Periklean building program. In antiquity, fires and invasions often imperiled or even destroyed parts of the Akropolis, forcing Athenians and foreign admirers of the site to restore, embellish, and protect the remnants of Perikles' achievements. For example, a ceremonial entrance in front of the Propylaia was built by F. Septimius Marcellinus ca. 280 BCE, with stone quarried from nearby monuments which had recently been destroyed by a Germanic invasion. it is known as Beulé Gate, named after its modern excavator. The Akropolis had many uses throughout history. Under Byzantine rule, it hosted pilgrims seeking to visit the Parthenon, which had been transformed into a church. After the Fourth Crusade, it housed a Roman Catholic cathedral, as well as the palace of the Latin Duke of Athens. In Ottoman times, it acted as a fortress for protecting mosques, living quarters, and the harem of the local governor. It was only in the first half of the 19th century CE that the newly independent modern Greek state decided to revive the Akropolis' Classical ruins. The medieval and modern buildings were removed, and the site's restoration has been going on ever since.
Behind the Propylaea was the giant bronze statue of Athena Promachos, or "Athena who fights on the front lines". That name was reflected in the spear and shield the statue held in its hands. It was erected in the mid 5th century BCE by the artist Phidas. According to an inscription, it took nine years to make, and cost almost half a million drachmae. At approximately ten meters tall, the statue was apparently so large that Pausanias claimed its helmet and spear tip could be seen from the sea near Cape Sounion, sixty kilometers away. The ornamentation of the statue's shield was engraved by the metalsmith Mys. Learn More: Athena, who was miraculously born from Zeus' head, was one of the most important deities in the Greek Pantheon. In the Bronze Age, she was an Aegean goddess who protected lucrative palatial and household activities, such as wool processing. Later on, she became the patron deity of many ancient Greek cities, with Athens being only the best known among them. However, she still kept her place as the protector of artisans, spinners, weavers, smith, and the like. The goddess had numerous epithets reflecting specific attributes, including Athena Polias (the protector of the city), Athena Ergane (the protector of crafts), and Athena Promachos ("fighting in the first rank", which alluded to her worship as a martial deity). She was also conceived as the goddess of wisdom, and her most famous symbol was the owl, which was often engraved on Athenian coins and painted on vases.
The arrhephoroi were young girls between the ages of seven and eleven who were in charge of special rites. A list of four girls were drafted by the assembly of citizens, from which the high magistrate, the archon basileus, chose two to serve as arrhephoroi for the year. The girls lived in a house on the Akropolis. They were in charge of carrying sacred objects, and weavubg the peplos of Athena. The peplos was a sacred robe offered to Athena during Panathenaia, a festival held in her honor. Learn More: The arrhephoroi were selected on the basis of noble birth, so only high status girls had the privilege of serving Athena during the feasts of the Arrhephoria and the Panathenaia. Pausanias wrote that two girls—whose designation meant "Bearers of Mysteries (Sacred Offerings)"—performed a special rite during the Arrhephoria. Their main duty was to descend from the Akropolis to a precinct of Aphrodite, carrying sacred objects on their heads given to them by the priestess of Athena. Once at their destination, they left the objects and received something else in return. Neither the arrhephoroi nor the priestess knew what any of the objects were, as they were always covered. The arrhephoroi's other duty was to assist the temple's priestess in the sacred act of weaving Athena's peplos (garment). This ritual took place over 9 months, before the garment was finally offered to Athena at the Panathenaia. Employing young, inexperienced arrhephoroi guaranteed the purity of the sacred robe. It also gave the girls the chance to learn how to spin and weave, which were two most important tasks required of Greek women.
The Erechtheion was an atypical temple. It was dedicated not only to Athens Polias, but also to Kekrops, the mythical founder of Athens, his son Erechtheos, and even Poseidon, the sea god who challenged Athena for possession of the city. The temple was divided into sections. The eastern part housed a statue dedicated to Athena, while the western section jointy belonged to Poseidon and Erechtheos. Meanwhile, King Kekrop's grave was believed to be under the Karyatid Porch. Under the temple was a crypt that was said to contain the sacred snakes of Athena. The snakes may have had a sweet tooth, because the priestesses of Athena allegedly fed them honey cakes. Learn More: The Erechtheion's North Court was a cloistered area where Athenians probably performed two specific religious rituals related to the festivals of Plynteria and Kallynteria. On Plynteria, the olivewood statue of Athena Polias was brought out of the temple, undressed, washed, and cleaned by two maidens, who also washed its garments. Then, on Kallynteria, the statue was re-dressed, re-decked, and returned to its holy place. These two feasts — which had numerous funerary connotations — are always connected in the accounts of ancient writers. Athenians believed they were unlucky days because the goddess was "otherwise occupied", and they accordingly avoided undertaking important activities until the statue was back in the temple.
The Parthenon is one of the most well-known buildings in the world, and an enduring symbol of Ancient Greek civilization. While it is located on the Akropolis, the building is not a traditional temple It was built by the sculptor Phidias and the architects Kallikrates and Iktinos as a great monument to the glory of the city of Athens. That glory is evident in its many carvings. One of the most craved monuments in Greek architecture, the Parthenon's decorations depict several mythological scenes. These include the birth of Athena, her fight against Poseidon for the patronage of Athens, the god's battle with the giants and the procession of the Great Panathenaia. Learn More: The Parthenon was built and decorated between 447 and 432 BCE, and the worship of Athena went on for nearly one millennium, although the building was affected by the destruction caused by Germanic invaders in the 3rd century CE. In approximately 590 BCE, it was converted into a Christian Greek church dedicated to Maria Parthenos—the Virgin Mary, and the new protector of Athens. The church became the fourth most important pilgrimage destination in the Byzantine Empire, after Constantinople, Ephesus, and Thessalonica. After the Latin soldiers of the Fourth Crusade captured Constantinople in 1204 CE, Athens became a Crusader duchy for two and half centuries, and the Orthodox church became the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady. The Ottoman conquest of 1458 CE transformed the Parthenon once again: this time, it became an Islamic mosque. Although refurbishments and addtions were made to the building throughout its many iterations, the continued Christian and Muslim activity within the Parthenon helped preserve the monument better than many other ancient structures. Unfortunately, in 1687 CE, during the Venetian siege of the Ottoman fortress on the Akropolis, a cannon ball shot struck the Parthenon, which was being used to store gunpowder. The roof was blown apart, three walls were severely damaged, and several columns and metopes fell to the ground, as well as most of the sculptures on the pediments and the frieze.
The Parthenon's inner chamber, or cella, contained a massive statue of Athena that was considered to be one of the sculptor Phidias' greatest masterpieces.
To justify the steep cost of its construction, Perikles told Athenians that the statue was a gold reserve which could be disassembled in times of economic distress.
>The cella also allegedly contained a pool whose main purpose was to control the room's humidity, which helped preserve the statue's ivory.
Some researchers have hypothesized that the Parthenon's statue of Athena cost almost as much as the building itself. Unfortunately, the statue was either destroyed by a fire, or brought to Constantinopole in late Roman times, where all trace of it was lost.
Fortunately, descriptions from historians like Plutarch and Pausanias, as well as smaller copies like the marble Varvakeion statuette, allow for detailed reconstruction.
The goddess was armed with a triple-crested helmet featuring a sphinx and two griffins, a big circular shield in her left hand, and a spear. She held a winged Nike two meters tall in her right hand, while a huge sacred snake was coiled between her left foot and the shield. She wore a typical peplos robe tucked into a belt, and on her chest was a snake-ridged aegis displaying the head of Medusa.Today, a modern replica of the statue stands in a copy of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee.
Athen's treasury was located in the Parthenon, where it was believed to be protected by Athena herself. The treasury contained objects of great value acquired from different conquests, as well as a mass of minted silver coins and various offerings to Athena. Perikles also decided to move the entirety of the Delian League's treasure to the Parthenon in 454 BCE. This was a great testament to Athen's power over the rest of Greece. The riches were divided into two parts: the demosia, which belonged to the city, and the hiera chremata, which was dedicated to the goddess and only used for religious purposes. Learn More: At the height of its power, Athens' two main sources of revenue were the silver mines of Laurion, and the contributions paid by the allied cities of the Delian League. The Delian League began in 478 BCE as an alliance of around 150 Hellenic cities, all headed by Athens. Its aim was to free the Greek cities under Persian oppression. The allies, whose number eventually grow to 300 as a consequence of numerous victories, contributed troops and money, the later of which was stored in the sanctuary of Apollo at Delos, a small holy island in the Aegean. After the Persians were defeated, the allies started to resent Athens and its constant demand for troops and money. Athens ruthlessly quelled every revolt, and transferred the allied treasury to the Akropolis, gradually transforming the League into its own empire. In fact, part of Sparta's success during the Peloponnesian War was determined by their promise to give the Athenians "allies" their freedom back, which earned the city lots of support.
- Aspasia: And what did you think of the Akropolis? It truly is quite something, isn't it? A sacred sanctuary and an architectural marvel, all in one. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.
Wander the remnants of Mycenae, a place that was in ruins even in the time of antiquity.
- Herodotos: Welcome, traveler, to the ruins of Mycenae.
- Herodotos: My name is Herodotos, and I am a traveler from Halikarnassos. I retrace the various events, such as wars and great calamities. I describe what I see and record what I am told — all with the aim of providing a better understanding of why these things occur. Look for me to introduce you to many sites.
- Herodotos: It is humbling to stand in the remnants of such a great civilization. Looking at these ruins, I am reminded that the past is never as far behind us as we think.
- Herodotos: These are the ruins of Mycenae, center of the old Mycenaean civilization. It was home to great warriors and heroes. In many ways, places like Athens and Sparta stand on the shoulders of its accomplishments. This tour will take you through its ruins and introduce you to its most important monuments, revealing its history in the process. I hope you enjoy yourself. I'll be waiting for you at the end of your visit.
- Herodotos: You've completed the tour. I trust it was an eye-opening experience. Though it did not last, Mycenae was a sort of precusor to what would eventually become the Greek civilization we know today. It's important we remember them, if only to avoid repeating their mistakes. Now, what else would you like to do?
- Herodotos: Then I suppose this is farewell, at least for now. Safe travels.
Gods of Olympia
Discover Olympia's splendor under the watchful eye of the gods.
- Barnabas: Welcome, friend, to this especially sacred part of the Olympian sanctuary!
- Barnabas: My name is Barnabas, and I am a ship captain. Don't be fooled by my scarred eye. Though I've seen my share of combat, I mostly stick to trading these days. Well, trading and introducing visitors like you to wonderful sites like this.
- Barnabas: This place is practically vibrating with divine energy. I feel like if I look over my shoulder right now, Zeus will be staring back at me!
- Barnabas: The sanctuary of Olympia was dedicated to Zeus, king of the gods. It had close connections to the divine, as you will see very soon. I'll come find you when you're done, and we can talk about what you've learned.
- Barnabas: Hello again! I hoped you enjoyed your visit, and feel a little bit closer to the gods. Well, as close as a mortal can get. Is there anything else you'd like to do?
- Barnabas: Farewell for now, my friend!
The Agora of Athens
Walk through Athens' most popular meeting place, and discover its vibrant markets and monumenmts.
("Who are you?") ("What do you think of this place?") ("Let's begin the tour.")
The Oracle of Delphi
Discover the marvelous oracular site of Delphi and learn about its importance.
("Who are you?") ("What do you think of this place?") ("Let's begin the tour.")
Tour the bustling port of Piraeus.
- Aspasia: Greetings, wanderer, and welcoem to the port of Piraeus.
- Aspasia: You've returned! I hope you enjoyed your stroll through the port. Piraeus was important to Athens' commercial interests, but it eventually came into its own as a vibrant and bustling port. If you have any questiosn, don't hesitate to ask.
- Aspasia: As you wish. Thank you for visiting.
Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidauros
Tour the Sanctuary of Asklepios and receive a primer on ancient Greek medicine.
("Who are you?") ("What do you think of this place?") ("Let's begin the tour.")
The ill and infirm came to this sanctuary to pray and offer sacrifices to Asklepios, the god of medicine.
According to myth, Asklepios was once a mortal physician who eventually became a god.
He had many sanctuaries across Greece, but the most famous was in Epidauros.
When pilgrims passed through the entrance of the sanctuary, they could read this inscription:
"When you enter the abode of the god which smells of incense, you must be pure. And thought is pure when you think with piety".
Asklepios, like most Greek gods, had a backstory wreathed in fire and blood. He was the product of an affair between the god Apollo and a mortal named Koronis. Apollo killed Koronis after discovering she had been unfaithful, and ordered her body burned on a funeral pyre. However, Apollo rescued his dead lover's unborn child from her womb before the fire consumed her body.
Apollo gave the baby to the centaur Chiron, who raised Asklepios and taught him how to practice medicine.The healing cult of Asklepios was first attested to in Epidauros, but slowly spread to different cities, exploding in popularity from the 4th century BCE onwards.
Medical steles constituted a sort of hub between medicine, religion, and the dinvine. They were slabs with inscriptions that praised Asklepios' virtues and merit, and described his methods of healing. The inscriptions relayed the dreams patients had within the abaton, one of the most important buildings in the sanctuary. The steles outlined the patient's name, their disease, and how they were cured by Asklepios. They were probably written by the sanctuary's priests, or at least under the priests' supervision. Asklepios was a complex deity. In addition to being a god, he was also a trained physician and disciple of the centaur Chiron.
In ancient Greece, religion was inseparable from rites, processions, and sacrifices. This was no different in Epidauros, and visitors to Asklepios' sanctuary needed to prepare themselves accordingly. Pilgrims cleaned themselves in order to be pure, then offered Asklepios food like honey cakes, cheesecakes, baked meals, and figs. The food was placed on the sanctuary's holy table, where it was presumably later taken by priests. After the preliminary offerings, visitors were allowed to enter the abaton — where they would hopefully encounter Asklepios in a dream. Medical steles also mention that healed patients sometimes gave additional offerings to Asklepios as thanks for being cured. Learn More: The poet Pindar's ode to Hieron of Syracuse features a section dedicated to the birth of Asklepios: "Then Apollo spoke: 'I can no longer endure in my soul to destroy my own child by a most pitiful death, together with his mother's grievous suffering.' So he spoke. In one step he reached the child and snatched it from the corpse; the burning fire divided its blaze for him, and he bore the child away and gave him to the Magnesian Centaur to teach him to heal many painful diseases for men. And those who came to him afflicated with congenital sores, or with their limbs wounded by gray bronze or by a far-hurled stone, or with their bodies wasting away from summer's fire or winter's cold, he released and delivered all of them from their different pains, tending some of them with gentle incantations, others with sooting potions, or by wrapping remedies all around their limbs, and others he set right with surgery."
Asklepios was originally born a mortal, and was the product of an affair between the god Apollo and a mortal, Koronis.
Apollo killed Koronis after discovering she had been unfaithful, and ordered her body burned on a funeral pyre.
However, he rescued his unborn child from Koronis' womb before the fire consumed her body.
Apollo gave the baby to the centaur Chiron, who raised Asklepios and taught him to practice medicine.
Over time, Asklepios became so skilled in the art of healing, he could even raise the dead.
This angered Zeus, who sent Asklepios to Hades with a thunderbolt.
Apollo retaliated by killing the Cyclopes responsible for making Zeus' thunderbolts.
Then, Zeus revived Asklepios, making him immortal and deifying him in the process.
In sculptures, poterry, mosaics, and coins, Asklepios was portrayed holding a staff interwined with a sacred snake.
The staff is a symbol of medicine that still ensures to this day.
Inside and outside the temple, devotees honored Akslepios with votive offerings such as coins, medical tools, bandages, reliefs, statues, and statuettes. Gowever, they also gave body part votives. These anatomical ex-votos (offerings) represented the part of the pilgrim's body affected by illness. They were offered either during the initial prayer for health, or at the end as thanks for being healed.
One example of such an offering comes from an ancient medical stele. According to the inscription, Pandaros arrived at the temple "with marks on his forehead". While sleeping, a vision of Asklepios visited him, tied a bandage around his head, and told him to remove it upon leaving the abaton. When Pandaros woke, he did as the god instructed. To his surprise, the marks on his forehead had been transferred to the bandage. As thanks, Pandaros dedicated the bandage to the temple, where it was presumably returned to its divine owner.
The Epidoteion was the priests' residence. As the link between the patients and the gods, priests were essential to the operation of the sanctuary. They were often elected into the priesthood for one year periods, but could also buy themselves a position if they were wealthy enough. In addition to interpreting patients' dreams in the abaton, priests both supervised and performed sacrifices and rituals. During these functions, they were usually clad in white. Learn More: Asklepios and his family weren't the only staff at the sanctuary, as professional physicians worked there as well. After the priests interpreted the patient's dream, the surgery prescribed the the god — as well as the preparation of pharmacological drugs — was carried out by a medical staff. Before becoming a traveller doctor, the famous physician Hippokrates allegedly did a residency at a sanctuary in his hometown of Kos. His acceptance onto the staff was likely due to his being an Asklepiad — a member of an aristocratic family that claimed to be descended from Asklepios.
The Abaton was built in the northern boundary of the sanctuary, where it surrounded a sacred well whose water was believed to have therapeutic properties. The abaton was where pilgrims went for incubation, or dream rituals. Details of the incubation ritual have been described in unearthed medical steles. They were also noted in Aristophanes' play "Ploutos", which featured a more comedic view of the process. Learn More: There were many methods for curing the sick in the sanctuary. In addition to being miraculously healed by Asklepios in the abton, pilgrims could also be given pharmaceutical drugs and remedies. They could also undergo surgical procedures, as evidenced by the scalpels, lances, and other tools discovered in archaelogical excavations. The variety of treatments in not surprising. Asklepios was revered for being an experienced and versatile healer, and one of Pindar's odes describes him as such: "Now all who came to him afflicted with natural sores or with limbs wounded by grey bronze or by far-flung stone, or with bodies wracked by summer fever or winter chill, he relieved of their various ills and restored them; some he tended with calming incantations while others drank soothing potions or he applied remedies to all parts of their bodies; still others he raised up with surgery."
Incubation was the dream ritual pilgrims experienced in the abaton.
After completing the necessary preliminary rituals, pilgrims were allowed to enter the sacred building, where they lay prone.
As they took in the smell of burning incense, the sanctuary's priests extinguished the oil lamps and asked them to sleep in silence.
Once they were asleep, Asklepios would appear in their dreams and give his medical advice.
The advice included diet and treatment recommendations, as well as requests for specific offerings or religious rituals.
Upoon waking up, priests interpreted the patients' dreams, unless a patient had been miraculously healed in their sleep.
However, if a patient was completely beyond help, they were removed from the abaton.
This was to adhere to a ritual law that stated no one could die — or be born — within the building.
Inscriptions and votive steles from the 4th century BCE indicate that while Amphiaraos did occasionally perform surgery in the patients' dreams, he was a prophet first and a healer second.
The third labor of Herakles was to capture the Keryneian Hind, a beast notoriously faster than an arrow. This particular labor was not about strength, but about speed and patience. Herakles chased the hind on foot for over a year - in Thrace, and as far as Istria in the Adriatic Sea. However, there's more than one legend that tells of its capture. In one version, Herakles caught the hind when it was asleep with a trap-net or a thrown arrow. In another, it was Artemis - whose sacred animal was the hind - who helped Herakles after he told the goddess that he didn't intend on desecrating the animal.
The Greeks have long been known as a naval powerhouse. The development team created multiple ship models, covering the Trireme (with three rows of oars], the bireme (with two), merchant ships and other smaller boats. Historical pop culture sources, including a visit to a life-size replica of a trireme, 3rd century BCE graffiti, depictions on vases and stone relief, and movies like Hercules , Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and many others, all served to inform the design team to create realistic and functional digital replicas of these classic ships. The color and animal based designs of the ships are also significant. To the far right, the Athenian ship is clear, not just from its blue coloring but also the owl adorning its sail - the owl being the symbol of wisdom, associated with Athena, the protector goddess of Athens. In the center is a darker colored ship common among pirates, to the left a Spartan ship, and in the far left, the smaller and less streamlined ship is a fishing boat. 3D renders of the figureheads featured in Odyssey range from the proud griffin and Pegasos to the terrible hydra and medusa.
Euboea was an important source of grain and cattle - its name even means "rich in cattle". Knowing this, it isn't that surprising to find depictions of bulls on their coins. The banner was inspired by the head of a bull, taken from the silver drachmae of the Euboean League. Bulls are sometimes presented in full on other Euboean coinages, like those of Eretria, Karystos, or Histiaia. Because of its resources, Euboea was a strategic region to control, and Athens invaded in 506 BCE. The Athenians defeated Chalkis, confiscated the land, and gave it to 4,000 settlers [clerouch] who could retain their Athenian citizenship.
Metal workshops of different sizes coexisted in ancient Greece. By the second half of the óth century BCE, the development of armament workshops [ergasteria] employing a few craftsmen or up to a few dozen slaves is quite noticeable. Larger production units soon appeared, making metalworking one of the most lucrative crafts in Classical Greece - at least, it is assumed so by historians. As with many other crafts, metalworking was exclusively practiced by men. The smallest workshops for local supply might have been comprised of only three workers: one smith, and two slaves to assist him. On the other hand, the largest workshops resembled factories. They could be very large and employ more than fifty slaves. For example, in Athens, on the slopes of the Akropolis, four giant 40-meter-long workshops dating back from 470-440 BCE have been excavated. The Athenian metic Kephalos might have possessed such a weapons workshop, since it was said that he had 120 slaves working for him. By contrast, the metal workshops found in the sanctuary of Nemea are smaller, but they are not necessarily the more common scale. The overall trend was super-specialization; the sword makers, for example, were not the same as helmet or shield makers. There were doryksoi [lance makers) and machairopoioi, who crafted swords or knives. Helmets workshops could also produce greaves, but the cuirasses, especially the “muscle armors”, were manufactured by specific craftsmen. Moreover, in the large workshops, one could assume that all the workers were assigned very narrowly-defined tasks.
The Bronze Statue of Poseidon at the Archaeological Museum of Athens [National Museum of Athens) depicts either Zeus or Poseidon. It is one of the few remaining original bronze statues from Greece's Classical period, but it is also one of the most impressive. The statue depicts a thick-bearded, curly-haired god with a muscular, well-detailed anatomy. It is missing its eyes, which were made of a different material - perhaps semi-precious stone or glass. The statue's right hand clutched either a lightning bolt, if it depicted Zeus, or a trident, if it depicted Poseidon. For the purposes of the game, we decided it was Poseidon. The sculpture was made by an artist of great skill. It's possible it was created by the renowned sculptor Kalamis.
The Achaian banner appropriately depicts a trireme, since the region includes Patrai, which served as naval base for the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War. The trireme was the most famous Greek ship. It was first built in Korinth in the 7th century BCE and became an important war ship for centuries - a fleet of triremes defeated the Persians in Salamis. Ships are a common image in iconography. They're present on vases and also on coins, with most of them depicting only the prow, like this bronze coin from Megaris.
Miltos is a type of red fine-grained ochre made up of red iron- oxides often mixed with earth, sand, clay, wax, resin or other impurities, creating a reddish pitch. It played a vital role in waterproofing and ship maintenance due to its astringent, binding, and drying properties. lts use is attested to in Mycenaean clay tablets, inscribed in the script known as "Linear Bº and dating from the 2nd millennium BCE. Specifically, by the Classical period, miltos from Kea was prized in Athens due to its effectiveness in the maintenance of ships, protecting the hull from rot and infestation. The high lead levels meant that the powder, once mixed into an organic medium, would make a very effective anti-fouling agent, preventing the growth of bacterial colonies on vessel hulls that could slow the ship down. In this way, applying lead-rich miltos paint mixed with pitch to the hull of a ship could inhibit biotic growth and prevent fouling. The prow of a trireme was often decorated to look like the head of an animal, with the ram as its snout. Aischytos called the triremes "the dark-eyed ships”. The eye was a regular decoration for the triremes. It was made from a piece of polished marble, then shaped and painted to resemble an eye. Sometimes oculi could be rather large and, if not painted, were an inlaid decoration occasionally made of expensive materials. Seafarers attached oculi to their ship because they looked upon their vessel as a living entity that needed eyes to find its way. Black warships with red or purple painted bows and large dark-blue enamel oculi seen sailing on the dark seas would have had a powerful effect on any observer - especially enemy forces.
The offensive weapon of triremes was the ram [embolos). The objective of all naval tactics was to bring the ram to bear on the enemy's flank or quarter. The ram was made of bronze and attached to a protruding plank at the front of the ship. The ram was a warship's most expensive piece of equipment, but luckily, it could be salvaged and reused when a ship was broken up. The ram was located at the forward tip of the keel. This area was heavily-armored and built up to a sharp point with three chisel-like blades just above water level. Building a ram required a high level of metallurgical expertise and complicated foundry facilities, as they were cast in one single huge piece. The ram's tip flared into fins rather than coming to a pointin order to prevent it from getting wedged into the hull of its opponent, and the timbers that the bronze casing covered were carefully designed to distribute the shock of impact over the entire length of the Light hull. The ram could smash a hole in an enemy vessel and therefore cripple it, but could not literally sink it. The shape of the ram was designed to cause maximum damage without penetrating the hull too far, and make it difficult for the attacking vessels to back off. The prow, with its ram and heavy buildup of timbers, was both the offensive weapon and the best-protected area of the ship. The stern and sides were its vulnerable quarters. As long as a warship kept its prow toward the enemy, it was poised for both offensive and defensive action. Its role was to disable other ships in battle. The Athenians in particular were very adept at maneuvering their ships to utilize this weapon effectively.
The various kinds of ships used by the Greeks could be divided into two main types: ships of war, and ships of burden. The latter were not designed for quick movement or rapid sailing, but to carry the greatest possible quantity of goods. Their structure was therefore bulky, their bottom round, and although they were not without rowers, the chief means by which they were propelled were their sails. The most common ships of war were triremes. This warship was an example of ancient engineering at its highest level. The trireme derives its name from its three rows of oars, with one man per oar. They were very fast and maneuverable, which gave them a critical advantage in the close-quarter battles that were typical of ancient naval engagements. The triremes could move fast under sail, reaching maximum speeds of perhaps fourteen knots under the most favorable weather conditions, while their speed without the sails was probably around eight knots. They'd also become waterlogged if left in the sea for too long. To prevent this fromm happening, ships would have to be pulled from the water, and kept and maintained in shipsheds, These were buildings built on limestone bedrock. They incorporated an inclined slipway which the triremes were normally hauled up on when not at sea. The remains of the Zea shipsheds at the Athenian port of Piraeus offer useful archaeological evidence about triremes' maximum dimensions: about 115- 120 feet long, 16 feet wide and about 8% feet tall above the waterline. As for the order of the rowers and their positioning, valuable information could be extracted by the famous Lenormant relief, which shows the middle of a trireme, with three clear levels of oars coming out at different angles. The trireme was first used in Greece during the óth century BCE by the tyrant of Korinth, Periander, and then by Polykrates, the tyrant of Samos. It became the dominant warship type of the eastern Mediterranean, playing a vital role in the Greco-Persian Wars, the creation of the Athenian maritime empire, and its downfall in the Peloponnesian War.
(Behind the Scenes)In Greek myth, the Cyclops is a member of a race of one-eyed primordial giants. They would hunt and kill humans, most notably Odysseus and his crew, so it is only fitting that our Hero should run into one. A huge humanoid with unparalleled strength, the Cyclops wields a mighty axe and is adorned with the bones, skulls, and claws of those he has slain. Artwork exploring the variations of this beastly foe is shown here, by artist Gabriel Blain, including a moss-covered, forest-dwelling version, and one painted with blue eyes, his shoulders and arms bristling with enemy arrows. The team had fun creating these, as Thierry Dansereau explains, "The first villain you meet is called the Cyclops but he is only a one-eyed man. Then you meet a real Cyclops. Surprises!"
In the 2nd century BCE, Pausanias wrote that the ruins of Mycenae hid underground chambers where Atreus—Agamemnon's father—and the other kings of Mycenae stored their treasure. He also reported the existence of several graves, Agamemnon's included. When archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann started excavating at Mycenae in the 1870s, he assumed that the huge buried monuments outside the citadel's walls were the treasuries Pausanias mentioned, dubbing the largest monument the "Treasury of Atreus". He also believed he found Agamenmnon's tomb in Grave Circle A. Schliemann was later discovered to be incorrect in his assumptions, and for a while after, historians believed the so-called "Treasury of Atreus" was the real tomb of Agamemnon. Unfortunately, this was also proven false when the monument was dated to around 1350-1250 BCE, years before Agamemnon was suspected to have lived. IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Entrance corridor of the so-called "Tomb of Agamemnon"
(Behind the Scenes) The architecture of each city, town, and village reflects both its location's biome and the building materials readily available. For example, Argos, capital of Argolis and known as the 'White City' is constructed from marble. Shown is a variety of concept art by Hugo Puzzuoli, Miguel Bouchard, and Caroline Soucy depicting the types of buildings and structures the Hero will encounter in the game. The variety of heights, sizes, and spacing is important to keep the locations navigable during gameplay. Like most Greek cities there is a clear distinction between rich and poor, with muddy streets and low, ramshackle houses, leading into stone structure, clean roadways and plenty of vegetation. Black and white line sketches by Miguel Bouchard of multiple temples amd residential villas show the raised steps and intricate walkaways between buildings, as well as the ruins of an older temple.
The region of Argolis was a major center of civilization beginning in the Mycenaean period. In the archaic and Classical period, the entire region was under the control of Argos. The banner depicts a wolf's head, the main conage of Argos. The wolf, "lukos", in ancient Greek, refers to Apollo Lykaios, who had an important sanctuary in his name. In Argos, wolves were offered as sacrifices to Apollo.
The Asklepeia was a religious festival that included contests and athletic competitions. The musical portion of the festival featured rhapsodists and citharedes (singers) competing to see who could recite the best epics. The musicians were supervised by the priests of Asklepios, who served as judges. The winner was decided by a jury made up of a priest, the presiding officer of the physicians, and a specially appointed arbiter. The competition's stakes were high, and artists who forgot to show up received a considerable fine. The Asklepeia was not specific to Epidauros. There is evidence of the festival occurring in sanctuaries in Aegina, Gortys, Kos, Pergamon, and Trikka. Meanwhile, in Athens, the Asklepeia conincided with another festival called the Dionysia.
Somewhere between 1225 and 1200 BCE, the inhabitants of Mycenae decided to secure a constant supply of fresh water for the citadel in the event of a prolonged siege. They achieved this goal by building a secret passage to an underground cistern. The water came from a spring on the nearby Mount Profitis Ilias, and travelled to the cistern through underground clay pipes. As time marched on, the installation drained out. However, during the Hellenistic period, another cistern was constructed on the surface to collect rainwater.
If a trip to the Sanctuary of Asklepios wasn’t possible, sick people could seek help from civic doctors. If Herodotos is to be believed, there was already a system of public doctors in place in Aegina and Athens by the late 6th century BCE. Some physicians received a retaining fee to reside in the community and treat citizens. However, the doctors could still receive, or in some cases demand, compensation from their patients. While physicians probably treated the poorest citizens for free, it is unlikely they were willing to do the same for the rich, or for non-citizens.
Pausanias writes that Asklepios's first sanctuary was in Trikka, a Thessalian city-state some mythological accounts name as the god’s birthplace. While no archaeological evidence of this temple exists, 4th century BCE coins depicting Asklepios have been found in the area. The remains of the sanctuary in Epidauros, meanwhile, date back to the 6th century BCE. This makes the site the earliest evidence of the cult of Asklepios. From the 5th century BCE onward, the cult slowly gained popularity, and by the 4th century BCE it had extended across the entire Mediterranean area.
Due to the huge stones found in the walls of places like Mycenae and Tiryns, Classical Greeks believed their ancestors' citadels were constructed by Cyclopes–giant one-eyed builders straight out of mythology. Nowadays, the term "Cyclopean masonry" is used to describe a variety of walls built with enormous and unworked limestone blocks fitted together without mortar. It was extremely popular in Mycenae, and was employed multiple times in the building and extending of the citadel walls. IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Cyclopean wall in Tyrins (sic), picture attributed to Athanasiou Konstantinos (1875-1905)
The exact causes of the decline of Mycenaean civilization remain a mystery to this day. Competing theories include a violent invasion by barbarous Dorians, catastrophic earthquakes, drought and famine, trade disruption, internal revolts, or combinations of two or more of the above. What is known for sure is that almost all important Mycenaean fortifications in mainland Greece were burned down between 1250 and 1180 BCE, just when Mycenaean civilization had reach its apex. The last clay tablets written in Pylos around 1180 BCE claim a foreign attack was imminent, so it's easy to assume that violent events played a significant role in the civilization's decline. The fall of Mycenae was not immediate. Instead, it endured a slow, painful decline throughout the 12th and 11th centuries BCE until it was reduced to a rural community. IMAGE DESCRIPTION: General view of Mycenae
There are several legends regarding the founding of Mycenae. The most popular story involves Perseus, the great hero and slayer of Medusa. After Perseus unintentionally killed his grandfather, he exchanged realms with his relative Megapenthes. When he arrived in his new lands, he dropped the cap of his sword scabbard—called "mycēs" in Greek. Interpreting this event as a good omen, Perseus decided to build a city. In another version of the story, Perseus picked up a mushroom—also called mycēs—and drank from the water that flowed from it. With his thirst quenched, the hero decided that the land from which the mushroom grew was a suitable place to establish his new capital. IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Perseus with the head of the Medusa, copy of the marble statue from the Vatican museum made by Antonio Canova between 1804-1806)
(Behind the Scenes) These detailed frescoes adorn the walls of residential houses, villas, gymnasiums, bath houses, boats, temples, and pretty much any other surface in the game. These sketches by Ubisoft artists show just a tiny selection of the frescoes found in Assassin's Creed ODyssey.
The baths of Epidauros probably had religious and curative uses, and visitors were encouraged to purify their bodies in them before visiting the abaton. However, the baths were also prescribed to treat different ailments. Ancient Greeks knew the value of a good bath, and Hippokrates himself meticulously classified different bath types according to various ailments and pains. For example, he recommended hot baths to help cure things like lung and kidney disease. No matter what the problem, Hippokrates had a bath for it.
Guest houses were built to host patients during their stay at the sanctuary. One such hostel was a monument called the Katagogeion. The Katagogeion also hosted theorodokoi. Theorodokoi were men of influence who liaised with the sanctuary’s ambassadors, known as theoroi. It was the theorodokoi’s duty to donate funds to maintain the sanctuary, and to make appearances at religious festivals like the Asklepeia.
Hephaistos was the god of metalworking, and the patron god of blacksmiths, goldsmiths, carpenters, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, and architects. His workshop was believed to be situated on either Mount Olympos, or on the island of Lemnos. In the latter case, the volcano Moschilos of Lemnos was believed to spew fire from the god's subterranean workshop. Hephaistos' name was closely associated with fire. For example, during the Trojan War, when the river Skamandros tried to drown the great hero Achilles, Hephaistos burned the riverbanks and the entire nearby plain until the river boiled like a kettle. Because of his occupation as a coppersmith, Hephaistos was usually depicted as having strong arms fit for wielding hammers and tongs, but weak legs due to his constant standing in front of the anvil. However, other versions of Hephaistos' story state he was born lame.
According to the Ancients Greeks, honey was thought to have supernatural characteristics, since it wasn’t fully understood how it was formed. To them, it was a hidden treasure approaching the divine world, and was highly symbolic. The bee and honey were thus part of the daily life of the Greeks. Poets celebrated the sweetness of it, its purity and aroma, and naturalists like Aristotle and Pliny the Elder described the manners of bees. It's known that Minoan Greece produced honey, so the knowledge of honey goes back to early Greek antiquity. It was popular for bees carrying pollen to be represented on jewelry. Hesiod and Homer mention honey, bees, and beehives in their works. Virgil consecrated an ode to beekeeping in his Georgics, describing honey to be a sweet present from the heavens. Raising bees was also a job, and the products that came out of it could even be used as trading currency. For example, Korsika paid a tribute in wax and honey to the Etruscans. With the production of honey, the Greeks developed new culinary dishes and pharmacopoeia.
Herakles' second labor was to kill the Lernaian Hydra, a water monster with numerous poison heads that lived in Lake Lerna of Argolis. One of the heads was immortal, and for each head that was chopped off, two more would generate in its place. The number of the heads was reportedly between six and fifty. In order to kill the Hydra, Herakles needed the help of his nephew, Iolaos. As Herakles cut off its heads, Iolaos cauterized the wounds to prevent them from growing again. To cut off the immortal head, Herakles used a golden sword given to him by Athena. After his victory, he dipped his arrows in the Hydra's poisonous blood, having the instinct that they could come in handy for his upcoming labors.
Herakles, the son of Zeus and Alkmene, was both a hero and god. He was renowned for accomplishing the twelve years at the service of his cousin Eurystheas, king of Mycenae. The first labor was to slay the Nemean Lion, who terrorized the inhabitants of Nemea and took its women as hostages. Herakles arrived at Kleonai, found the lion, and tried to use his bow against. However, the lion's golden fur was impenetrable, and resisted every arrow shot at it. Herakles found a way to trap the lion in its cave, and then used his club to stun the beast. As it lay immobile, he was able to kill it with his bare hands. Thereafter, Herakles wore the lion's skin to show his victory; This was how he was normally represented in Greek art.
After their healing, patients and worshippers of Asklepios would leave an ex-voto in the sanctuary as an offering of thanks. The ex-voto could be a bandage, crutches or medical tools, a confession stele describing their experience, or a statuette. Some ex-voto were especially extravagant. For example, Hermodikos of Lampsakos was instructed by Asklepios to find the largest stone he could, then leave it in the sanctuary as an offering. Hermodikos did as he was told, and the stone he offered exists to this day, his inscription still on it: "In recognition of your power, Asklepios, I dedicated this stone I raised, to prove your art is evident for all to see."
Pilgrims came to Epidauros from all over Greece. However, the influx of visitors increased dramatically after a plague devastated Athens from 430-426 BCE. According to Thucydides, people were desperate for healthcare, and traditional physicians didn't know how to cope with the new disease. These factors led to masses of people making the journey to the sanctuary in the hopes that Asklepios would heal them. Later, in 421 BCE, the Athenians were able to bring Asklepios to them during a break in the Peloponnesian War. The god arrived in the form of a wooden statue. It was placed—along with a statue of Hygieia—in a sanctuary on the south side of the Akropolis
Coming to Asklepios’s sanctuary was a process of purification. From a religious perspective, illness was a pollution the gods could help eliminate. Even Hippokratic authors recommended visits to the sanctuary, especially when the only alternative was a bad or inexperienced healer. Pilgrims visiting the sanctuary at Epidauros had to purify themselves before they could enter. Fortunately, there were nearby sacred springs and baths for exactly that purpose. The springs purified the pilgrims spiritually, but they also made them clean, which was another quality needed to visit the sanctuary.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans had a long history of making bronze statuary. Images of gods and heroes, victorious athletes, statesmen, philosophers were prevalent throughout antiquity, appearing everywhere from temples and sanctuaries to public spaces. However, bronze statues had a high material value, and it is estimated that even a small-scale bronze value would have cost around 150-200 drachmae in the 4th century BCE. As a result, only the prosperous could afford to dedicate bronze statues to sanctuaries, while poorer pilgrims could only offer clay vases and statuettes.
The Asklepian Games occurred every four years during the Asklepeia festival. They were comprised of artistic and athletic contests, the latter of which took place in a formal stadium. Probably built in the 3rd century BCE, the stadium featured stone seating from where the audience could watch footraces on the racetrack below. Further archeological excavation has revealed a stone starting line called a balbis, and a starting mechanism called a hysplex, which helped prevent false starts.
The Temple of Asklepios was the main building of the sanctuary. Built around 375 BCE, it replaced an earlier building located further southeast. The temple was constructed over the course of four years. According to Pausanias, the interior contained a chryselephantine [ivory and gold) statue of Asklepios. The statue was made by the sculptor Thrasymedes of Paros, and depicted the god sitting on a throne, holding a staff in one hand and a snake's head in the other. A dog rested by Asklepios' side to keep him company.
The famous theater of Epidauros was built on the slope of Mount Kynortion. It is considered the most perfect theater structure in all of antiquity, due to the harmony of its proportions and its exceptional acoustics. The auditorium, still virtually intact, was built in the second half of the 4th century BCE. The stage building, however, is in ruins, though its basic arrangement is clear enough. The theater housed musical contests held during the Asklepeia, and rocrds show that Greeks used the building as far back as the late 5th century BCE.
Legend told of a beekeeper nymph, Melissa. According to myth, she was the very first to harvest honey. Along with her sister Adrasteia, Melissa took care of a young Zeus on Mount Ida. The grateful Zeus gave unto bees a golden-bronze color, and made them resistant to the weather. Melissa was also initiated to the mysteries of Demeter by the goddess herself. Unfortunately for Melissa, she was killed for refusing to reveal their secrets. Demeter's resulting anger was so great, it provoked an epidemic that made clouds of bees from Melissa's body. The priestesses of the mystery cults in the Greek religion were often compared to bees, and were called Melissai. In these mystery cults, the most revered goddesses were Demeter and her daughter Persephone, Chthonian goddesses symbolizing the return of the seasons. Many honey offerings were presented to these so-called Chthonian divinities. The priestesses of the Artemis of Ephesus were also called Melissai.
The so-called "Treasury of Atreus" or "Agamemnon's Tomb" is the largest of nine tholos tombs outside the citadel walls of Mycenae. The name "tholos" refers to the tombs' round shape. Given their size, it's possible that members of the same family were often buried in the tombs together, along with their riches. The tombs' walls were decorated with bronze sheets attached with nails, and some of the nails are still in place today. Unfortunately, the precautions the people of Mycenae took to seal the tombs—such as walling in the doors and passageways—did little to protect them from ancient and modern treasure hunters, who emptied the tombs of much of their riches.
Also known as the Thymele, the sanctuary’s tholos (round building) housed the cult of Asklepios. It was the most beautiful building in the sanctuary, and its size and splendor emphasized its importance. An opening in the center of the floor gave access to a circular pit. From there, it was possible to enter the building's foundation: a subterranean maze that may have housed sacred snakes. Snakes were considered to be Asklepios' emblem. As such, whenever the god's cult integrated into a new city, they brought a pack of sacred snakes with them. One medical stele relates how a pilgrim was supposedly healed by one of the sanctuary's snakes: "A man’s toe was healed by a snake. He was suffering terribly from a difficult wound on his toe, and during the day was carried outside by servants and was sitting on some seat. When sleep overtook him, a snake came out of the abaton and healed his toe with its tongue; after it had done this, it returned to the abaton. When the man awoke. he was healthy and said that he had seen a vision: a handsome young man seemed to have sprinkled a drug over his toe."
Arkadia is a mountainous region of the central Peloponnese. It has plains in the valley of the Alpheios and Ladon rivers, and around the cities of Tegea and Megalopolis. Its banner depicts a head of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, from the coinage of the city of Pheneos. This earthy goddess is frequently depicted on the coinage of cities. The greatest gift Demeter gave to humankind was agriculture, and this relation was always shown by the grain wreath that she wore.
(Behind the scenes) The player will encounter seven distinct biomes - six on land, one underwater - as they journey through Ancient Greece. Each features its own flora, fauna, weather systems, and unique topography. The challenge for the art team was to make sure the biomes each had their own individual atmosphere, vegetation, color palette, even down to the type of rocks in each location. “AU biomes are a joint effort of several artists, technical artists, and technical directors who work together to create those landscapes that are driven by procedural rules. In order to create believable procedural biomes, the biome team had to fully understand interaction between elements that drive nature and apply it in the game,” explains Vincent Lamontagne, assistant art director and lead biome artist. From left; cross-sections of the six land-based biomes - Spring, Summer, Arid, Paradise Islands, Volcanic, and Deciduous Forest - gave a broad spectrum of the landscape the Hero will have to navigate to survive. Artist Hugo Puzzuoli adds, “Our team had fun translating the diverse nuances of azure blue from the Mediterranean Sea. From the paradisiac white sand beaches to the arid orange volcanic coast.”
The tenth labor of Herakles required travelling to the end of the world to Erytheia to retrieve the cows of the Giant Geryon. Son of Chrysaor - who came out of Medusa's body - and Callirrhoe - daughter of two Titans = Geryon had one body, but three heads and three sets of legs. When Heraktes arrived to Erytheia, he first killed Orthos, the two-headed dog, and then killed Eurytion, the herdsman. He finally put down Geryon by throwing one poisonous arrow directly into the middle of the Giant's head. Herakles brought the cattle to Eurystheas, who then sacrificed them to Hera.
Ancient Greece had an agrarian economy, meaning that wealth came from farming the land. The polis, or city-state, was made up of the astu (city) and the chora (countryside]. Citizens conducted business and politics in the city, but many made their living on farms in the country, growing olives for oil, wine for grapes, and grains. Due to Greece's mountainous topography and variable rainfall, it is estimated that only one-fifth of the land was arable, so control of the plains was frequently contested. For example, the Spartans conquered the neighboring Messenians and reduced them to slaves with the goal of controlling Messenia's rich and fertile plains. Even a city as powerful as Athens did not produce enough grain to feed its population, and had to rely on grain imports.
Greek myth is full of stories of impressive animals that are separate from the god-like creatures of Medusa and the Minotaur, such as the Nemean Lion, the Golden Hind of Artemis, and the Stymphalian Birds. No foray into classical Greece would be complete without these Legendary creatures. These are strong, powerful animals chosen for their interesting fighting style and appearance. The Odyssey team adapted the real-world versions, embellishing them with different markings and natural weapons. They are dangerous, scarred from many previous encounters, and have an almost diseased, unnatural air to them as shown in the concept artwork by Gabriel Blain. They are not to be attacked lightty. “The 12 labors of Herakles were depicted many times in the game in various forms. For instance the hunt of mythical animals is inspired by many of those myths, as well as some of the stone work and paintings that can be found across the game."
Pan was the national god of Arkadia. His name and hybrid appearance as a half-man, half-goat refer to his special role as the “guardian of the flocks”. Shepherds sacrificed goats to Pan in exchange for protection for the rest of their herd. Pan was believed to enjoy roaming the mountains while playing music on his pipes. The Greeks worshipped Pan - as well as Hermes and the nymphs - in sacred caves. However, in Arkadia, there was an entire sanctuary with a temple dedicated to Pan. The origins of the Athenian cult of Pan have been related by Herodotos. According to the ancient historian, the famous runner Philippides met Pan while journeying to Lakonia to ask the Spartans for aid against the Persians. Pan promised to help the Athenians, and made good on that promise at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE when he sowed panic in the ranks of the Persian army.
The sixth labor of Herakles was to kill the birds that lived in lake Stymphalia in Arkadia. These birds were sacred to the god of war, Ares. They were carnivorous with toxic dung, and were made of bronze. The lake where they made their dwelling was swampy, so it was difficult for Herakies to approach them. To help, Athena gave him a rattle made by Hephaistos, the god of metalworking, which scared the birds off. Herakles managed to shoot some of the birds with his poison arrows, but several flew away.
While Athens did not have a bureaucracy in place to permanently run the city and the rest of its empire, it did elect more than 1,000 officials every year to manage its affairs. Most of these officials had very minor responsibilities, and therefore only worked part-time. The vast majority of officiais were chosen by lot, but the most important ones were elected by popular vote in the Athenian assembly. In both cases, citizens who wished to hold one of the positions had to first nominate themselves. Citizens had to be thirty years old to qualify for an official position, and even then, they could still be dismissed. Despite these limitations, however, up to 5% of all Athenian citizens were appointed or elected to official positions on a yearly basis, or became part of the Council of 500. Depending on the year, up to 100 officials were elected. The most important of these were the ten generais, or strategoi. The generals were officially in charge of military matters, but over the course of the 5th century BCE, their influence expanded to political matters as well. For example, Perikles was elected general 15 times between 443 and 429 BCE, and used that time to cement his hold on Athenian politics.
The most important element of ancient Greek cults was the sacrifice to gods. Consequently, the most important structures were the altars where the sacrifices were slaughtered and burnt. Therefore, the Great Altar of Athena Polias, the patron deity of Athens, was the holiest and most significant monument on the Akropolis. The exact location of the altar is unknown, but it seems that it was erected to the east of the Erechtheion, in the northern, most sacred part of the Akropolis. While other buildings were frequently dismantled and erected anew, the altar's position did not change for hundreds of years. In Perikles's time, the altar built ca. 525 BCE by the sons of the great tyrant Peisistratos was probably remodeled as an impressive stepped structure, so that it could easily host sacrifices as large as the Panathenaia festival's hecatomb, which involved the slaughtering of 100 cattle, as implied by its name (hekaton = “one hundred”; bous = “ox").
An altar consecrated to Dionysos is believed to have stood in the center of the theater's orchestra. This central altar would have been the focal point of the choral dance. However, some archaeologists have suggested the altar was actually on the side of the orchestra, and there has also been debate about whether or not it was a permanent fixture in the theater. The altar was used in religious ceremonies before and after performances. Dionysos was worshipped with food offerings and the sacrificing of animals like cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats. He was also offered wine libations, befitting his title as the god of wine. In addition to its sacred uses, the altar could also function as a stage property in various plays, like Agamemnon's tomb in “Choephoroi”, and the omphalos of Delphi in “The Eumenides”.
This altar dedicated to the twelve gods seems to have served as both a place of refuge and a topographical point of reference. Herodotos used the altar to give sample distances, and it functioned as a milestone for all distances in Attika. The altar was dedicated by the archon Peisistratos in 522 BCE. The exact identity of the twelve gods is still debated, but itis commonly accepted that they were the same twelve Olympian gods that were represented on the east frieze of the Parthenon.
Apollo was a complex deity with several different attributions. He was the god of art, music and poetry, Light and knowledge, prophecies, and medical healing. He was the son of Zeus and Leto, and the brother of Artemis. Since Hera was very jealous of Zeus's extramarital lovers, Leto was forced to seek refuge in Delos to bear her child. Apolto was depicted as a young, beardless, and beautiful man. His main symbols were the lyre, the bow, the tripod, and the laurel branch. Apollo had several sanctuaries in Greece, but the most famous was the sanctuary in Delphi, where his Oracle resided.
The sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia, or the Brauroneion, was located near the Propylaia.
In a city dominated with dedications to Athena, the Brauroneion stood out for its focus on Artemis Brauronia, the goddess who presided over girls from puberty to childbirth.
It's probably the sanctuary was built for a smaller branch of the main cult of Artemis Brauronia.
It consisted of a portico, and a wooden statue that was later replaced with a marble one carved by the famous sculptor Praxiteles.
In many ancient texts, the goddess Athena bears the attribute "Ergane", which refers to her patronage of craftsmen and artisans, and other crafts. Athena Ergane was mainly associated with spinning and weaving. She protected women who produced textiles, and in return they offered her spindles, loom weights, raw wool, and textiles as dedications. On ancient painted vases, Athena Ergane was often represented as either an artisan in a tool-filled workshop, or as an owl next to objects symbolizing certain crafts. For example, an owl next to a wool basket was sometimes stamped on loom weights used by weavers. It is not clear if Athena Ergane had an actual cult, like Athena Polias, but it is evident that the goddess bearing this epithet received dedications and offerings from all sorts of artisans. Moreover, the sacred peplos given to the goddess during the Panathenaia was woven under the auspices of Athena Ergane.
The Athenian banner is inspired by the coinage of Athens in the 5th century BCE. These coins show the main goddess of the city, Athena, on one side, and an owl on the reverse. Athena had several known attributes, but was mainly associated with warfare, handicraft, and wisdom. She was the patron of Athens - to which she gave her name. The owl of Athena symbolized the goddess's wisdom and protection, and was often depicted beside her in iconography. These Athenian coins were so emblematic that they were called the glaukes (owls) in antiquity.
(Behind the scenes) Concept artwork on this spread by Gabriel Blain and Fred Rambaud showcases the variety of opponents to be found in Athens, Attika, and all over Greece. The Athenian army is similar to the Spartans', but does have key differences. The Athenian breastplates are smooth, favoring motifs and symbols over representation of muscles. And there is of course the color: Athenians are represented in blue so they are recognizable to the player.
(Behind the scenes) "Realizing an enormous battle on the scale of ancient Greek warfrare was quite a technical and design challenge. We wanted to remain as true as possible to the tactics and warfare of the time, but plenty of compromises were made for gameplay, excitement, and technical constraints." - Scott Phillips "Even making the Discovery Tour was a challenge as we needed to show battlefields without explicitly showing a battlefield. We opted for flags instead of violence to communicate the events." - Paul Green, Assistant Level Design Director on Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece
Bills passed by the prytaneis had to be submitted to the citizen assembly, the ekklesia. The boule and the ekklesia worked together in coordinating and calling the assembly. When laws were voted on, they sent the relevant decrees to the city's magistrates and inhabitants. They were the link between decisions made in the assembly and their implementation. The boule also supervised other matters like city finances, magistrate coordination, sacred affairs, etc.
The Chalkotheke, meaning “bronze storehouse”, was built in the available space between the Parthenon, the temple of Artemis Brauronia, and the Akropolis's southern wall. The building was used as a storehouse for the bronze and iro items of Athens's treasury, either around 450 BCE, during the reform of the first Delian League, or in the 370s BCE, when Athenian imperial ambitions were once again on the rise after recovering from their defeat in the Peloponnesian War. Most information on the Chalkotheke was preserved on four 4th century BCE inscriptions, which were displayed nearby and contained detailed inventories of the building's items, including metal vases, statues, and above all, weapons and armor. The Chalkotheke therefore also functioned as a military arsenal, as further evidenced by the stockpile of artillery and naval equipment the Athenians stored in the building in 320 BCE.
Athenian coinage was the most abundant Greek coinage in the 5th century BCE. The coins came in many denominations, from tiny coins weighing approximately 0.15g to larger tetradrachms weighing 17.20g. At one point, Athens even struck an issue of dekadrachms weighing 43.209. These large coins dated back to the 460s BCE, and have been linked to either the Athenian victory over the Persians at the Eurymedon River - which resulted in an enormous amount of seized booty - or the capture of Thasos and its rich mines. Athens also occasionally struck gold coins, and from the end of the 5th century BCE, they minted bronze coinage as well.
The myth of Poseidon and Athena's competition for Athens's patronage was one of the most well-known in Periklean Athens, and was even depicted on the West Pediment of the Parthenon. It was recounted later by many Greek and Roman writers, and in many different forms. The basic version of the story states that the half-man half- serpent Kekrops, the first king of a newly founded city in Attika, needed the location to have a patron deity. Poseidon was the first to apply, and struck the rock of the Akropolis with his trident, turning it into a salty spring that he offered to Kekrops's subjects as a gift [in later versions, the spring is replaced by a horse, Poseidon's favorite creature). Athena struck the rock as well, and an olive tree sprouted from the ground. Depending on the version of the myth, either Kekrops or a divine jury ruled that Athena's gift was more precious, and so she became the patron goddess of the city that was thenceforth known as Athens. The salty spring and the olive tree, which were both visible on the Akropolis, were seen as symbols of seafaring and agriculture, respectively. The earliest versions of the myth, devised by landed elites, favored Athena and depicted Poseidon as a vengeful ruffian who flooded part of Attika after he had lost. However, after the naval battle of Salamis in 480 BCE and the creation of Athens's maritime empire, the sea- minded Athenian democracy elaborated a new version of the myth where the two gods are reconciled. Reconciliation was reflected in the building of the Erechtheion, which was dedicated both to Athena Polias [of the city) and to Poseidon (Erechtheos).
The geranos (cranel, or mechane [machine], was located on the right end of the stage, and could suspend and carry actors through the air. This was especially useful for portraying characters like gods or heroes. On top of the skene, there was also a roof called the theologeion ("where the gods speak”) that was reserved for the appearance of divine beings. Greek dramatists would often employ gods to resolve difficult and complicated conflicts. The god would first be lifted through the air by the geranos, then land on the theologeion before resolving the drama with a neat solution. This process inspired the expression “deus ex machina” - or “theos apo mechanes” in Greek. The expressing refers to the sudden resolution of a seemingly unresolvable situation.
The Monument of the Eponymous Heroes was built in honor of the heroes from whom the ten founding tribes of Athens took their names. The bronze statues were erected on a marble base that also served as an official notice board for the Athenian people. Athens was divided into ten tribes when Kleisthenes reorganized the political system in 508 BCE. The tribes' ten heroes were chosen from amongst the mythical figures of Athens by the Oracle at Delphi. The chosen figures were Erechtheus, Aigeus, Pandion, Leos, Akamas, Oeneus, Kekrops II, Hippothoon, Ajax, and Antiochos. Athens's tribal structure meant that citizens voted by tribes, and the council of the Boule featured a rotation of tribal delegations.
Religion was an important aspect of Greek private life. Though the walls of the house provided physical protection, the family needed divine protection as well, and for this they turned to Zeus. Every house had an altar dedicated to Zeus Herkeios [of the Fencel] that the family could worship at by offering sacrifices and libations in the god's honor. Sacrifices were also performed in the house on special occasions like weddings, births, or for the festival of Zeus Ktesios. The Greek dramatist Menander mentions that worshippers would circle the altar with sacrificial tools like a vessel of holy water. They sprinkled the water around the altar to purify it, then began the sacrifice proper. Household sacrifices could be animals, but also offerings of incense and vegetables. The ceremony of Amphidromia celebrated the presentation of a newborn, and might have taken place in the courtyard. The ceremony was held when the baby was five days old, and symbolized its acceptance into the family. Friends were invited to the occasion, and the house's exterior was decorated differently depending on the sex of the child: olive branches indicated a boy, while garlands of wool signaled a girl. The most central part of the Amphidromia was the circling the house's hearth with the newborn, followed by the presenting of the child to both the house's gods and the rest of the family. The newborn also received their name during the ceremony.
Following the Greco-Persian Wars, Themistokles recommended that Athens fortify both the city and the port of Piraeus.
The fortifications started under Themistokles and were further strengthened by Perikles and Kimon. Their efforts contributed to the creation of the so-called "Long Walls" that ensured Athens always had access to its port, even in times of war.
Water was supplied to the agora through fountain houses. Aqueducts delivered the water to a reservoir, and the overflow was evacuated through a drain. Fountain houses are amongst the earliest public buildings in the agora.
Honoring the dead was a duty expected by the gods. Desecrating their bodies, allowing the bodies to be desecrated, or forgetting them in the open air was a heinous crime. It was expected to give the dead a proper funeral - especially for fallen soldiers. Bodies were commontly buried or consumed in the flames of a funeral pyre. The pyre was especially common for dead soldiers, as the heat and light of the fire were considered appropriate send-offs. Greek monuments were always painted, including the steles erected to commemorate the dead. Some extensive traces of red and black pigments can be seen even today. The steles usually showed the deceased person in different positions - one of the most common images being a hand- shake with a family member.
In the precinct of the Hephaisteion, excavators have discovered archaeological traces of the "Garden of Hephaistos”. According to their findings, trees and shrubs used to be planted in rows running parallel to the main structure.
The Greek household was protected by many gods. Zeus Herkeios - or “Zeus of the Fence” -- was worshipped at a courtyard altar, and supposedly protected the house from outside aggressors. Zeus Ktesios - "Zeus of the Property” - was linked to a house's family and their wealth. He was represented by a two- handled jar wrapped in a white woolen fillet and filled with various seeds, water, and olive oil. Other gods include Hestia, who was the eponymous goddess of the domestic hearth, as well as Hermes and Apollo, who are both mentioned as being guardians of the front door. Representations of Herakles were also known to stand near houses, possibly to protect them from crime and the forces of evil.
Hippias was the son of Peisistratos, the tyrant of Athens. he succeeded his father in 528 BCE, ruled with absolute power, and brutally dispose of his enemies. In spit of this, Athens was surprisingly peaceful and prosperous under Hippias' rule. His reigned ended in 510 BCE, when a Spartan invasion of Attika led to his downfull. Hippias fled to Asia Minor, where he came in contact with the Persian king Darius. The disgraced tyrant would eventually convinced the Persians to land their forces at Marathon.
In Greece, hoplites were heavy inffantrymen. They carried round shields large enough to protect both themselves and anyone to their left, and wore helmets, cuirasses, and leggings. Hoplites normally advanced in a phalanx formation of five to seven lines deep. The phalanx allowed them to attack with spears, and simultaneously defend themselves from any cavalry and archers attacking from the front.
In the 5th century BCE, all citizens could theoretically attend the Athenian assembly, which governed not only civic affairs but also the affairs of an entire empire. Needless to say, managing the assembly was complex, and one of the main challenges was ensuring the meetings were conducted in a timely fashion. It was especially important that every citizen was given the same amount of time to speak. For this reason, a water clock known as a klepsydra was set up at the Pnyx to ensure every orator spoke for the same allotted time. A klepsydra was made up of two large vases, one above the other, and a small tube. The tube poured water into the bottom vase over the course of six minutes, then the vases were switched and the process repeated itself. In addition to keeping time at assembly meetings, klepsydrae were also important in courts of law, where they ensured both the prosecution and the defense had equal time to speak.
Kore Phrasikleia is one of the most important works of archaic scuplture. It depicts a young woman (kore), and was found in Attika during excavations next to a young male statue. The statue is dated to 550-530 BCE and depicts a kore wearing sandals, a full length sleeved chiton, and a tall kalathos decorated with flowers. In her hand, she holds a lotus bud. She is also wearing earrings, a necklace, and two bracelets. The height of the statue is 1.79 metersm and the preservation of its polychromy is astonishing. Recent research confirms the use of eleven different colorants, as well as gold and lead foil. We know the name of the deeased Phrasikleia bcause it is inscribed on the base of the statue. Her young age is also implied, as she is called the maiden in the inscription, meaning she died before she got married. On the left side of the base is the name of the sculptor, Aristion of Paros. The base was not buried with the kore, but was used as a building material in a nearby church, where it was recovered. Aristion fabricated and signed other statues as well, which allow us to date the creation of the statue of Phrasikleia to between 550 and 530 BCE. It's not impossible hat the artist was associated with the sphere of power of the tyrants of Athens, and that the statue might have belonged to the Peisistratid family.
Maritime trade was a risky business, and not every ship reached its destination. For example, a merchant ship was wrecked near Kyrenia in the 4th century BCE, and underwater excavations of its remains have revealed much information about ancient Greek shipbuilding. The wreck's wooden hull was made of pine, and suggests the ship was made using the “shell-first” technique, wherein the shell of the boat was constructed before the rest of its parts. The ship's cargo included jars filled with almonds, and over 400 wine amphoras. It also carried 29 milltstones that were used as ballast to stabilize the vessel, and 300 lead net weights that were likely used for fishing.
Originally, ports used fire to help guide ship navigators to land. The innovation of placing fire on top of a platform led to the development of the Lighthouse. Ancient lighthouses started appearing in the archaic period, around the 6th-5th centuries BCE. The island of Thasos had three marble lighthouses that took the shape of small circular towers placed on promontories. One of the most famous lighthouses was the Pharos of Alexandria, which stood at a height of over 100 meters.
Bedrooms in antiquity were generally small and sparsely furnished. Greek bedrooms usually contained a Kline (couch), tables, klismoi (chairs), stools, incense burners, and chests to store clothes and other objects. In general, the amount of furniture corresponded to the wealth of the family, with richer people able to afford more furniture. According to ancient architects, the ideal place for bedrooms was on the western side of the courtyard to catch the morning sun. This explains why most bedroom windows had shutters to keep the light out.
Maritime trade was essential for Greek cities, and certain products could only be acquired from overseas. Large-scale trade occurred in the emporion. Greeks conducted business amongst themselves, but also with other places like Egypt. Traded goods included grapes, olives, wine amphoras, grain, wood, metal ore, textiles, and slaves.
Whether it was monsters battling gods, famous (or infamous) lovers, or heartbreaking tragedies, artists used their clay as a canvas to depict whatever they desired. Vases made in the Kerameikos told many stories, ranging from scenes from everyday life, such as two young Athenians flirting with each other, to phenomenal cosmic battles, like Perseus slaying Medusa. By the 5th century BCE, painters and potters drew on a wide variety of inspirations for their work.
(Behind the scenes) “Music was everywhere in Ancient Greece and we wanted to reflect this in the game. Musicians played in the sanctuaries, the Olympics, the villages and the cities. Music had many uses, including singing and playing during ceremonies, creating rhythm during combat training and for entertainment. Working closely with our musicians in the UK, Canada and Greece, we created original songs that reflected important moments in the story, instrumental music to provide entertainment throughout the world, and ancient Greek sailors songs for the boat” - Lydia Andrew
Eleusis is a city in West Attika, at the northern end of the Saronic Gulf and at a distance of 20 kilometers from the center of Athens. The city of Eleusis was practically unknown until the 1930's, when excavations determined the shape of the Classical city. High on the summit, the akropolis of Eleusis was fortified since the Mycenaean period, and the Sanctuary of Demeter was situated lower down the hill and outside the fortification. According to the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Demeter herself introduced the mysteries at Eleusis during the quest for her daughter, Persephone. At some point, Demeter stopped at the palace of King Keleos, and as a gift for his hospitality, she taught Triptolemos the art of agriculture. From him, the rest of Greece was educated in agriculture, anditis inin Demeter's honor that the people of Eleusis built a sanctuary. Demeter also taught the people the rites to the "Mysteries”, a secret cult restricted to initiates. The hymn to Demeter provides the association between myth and ritual, and builds the necessary connection for the establishment of the Eleusis cult. Demeter and Persephone were worshiped together at Eleusis and were referred to as “goddesses”. They were distinguished from each other as “the older” (Demeter) or “the younger” (Persephone).
Today, an olive tree grows on the western side of the Erechtheion. Although it was planted in 1952 by members of the American School of Archaeology, it is conveniently believed to be descended from a sacred olive tree planted during the foundation of Athens. Myth says that when Athena and Poseidon competed to become the patron deity of the new city, they were required to bring gifts to its citizens. Athena struck the Akropolis with her spear, and the sacred olive tree sprouted from the ground. For these reasons, ancient Greeks thought that Athenian olive trees were the holiest in all of Hellas. Herodotos and Pausanias both report that the Persians burned the tree in 480 BCE, only for it to grow again from its ashes on the very same day. This miraculous revival is the archetype for all the other subsequent resurrections of the tree.
One of the Athenian democracy's unique features was the practice of ostracism. Originally implemented to prevent the rise of another tyrant, ostracism involved the temporary exiling of an Athenian by his fellow citizens. Every year, citizens would vote in the assembly over whether or not an ostracism would take place. If they voted yes, another vote would later be held in the agora to determine which citizen would be ostracized. Each citizen wrote the name of a potential candidate on a fragment of pottery called an ostraka. If more than 6,000 votes were cast, the person who was named most frequently had 10 days to leave the city, after which he would remain in exile for 10 years. From 487 BCE to 415 BCE, a number of prominent Athenians were ostracized for a variety of reasons. Relatives of Hippias, the last tyrant of Athens, were exiled after they were suspected of wanting to overthrow the city's democracy. The general Kimon, meanwhile, was ostracized for pursuing an unsuccessful policy of friendship with Sparta. But perhaps the most famous ostracism was that of Themistokles, a general renowned for his exemplary service in the Greco-Persian Wars.
Copper and tin were very important to the ancient Greeks, as they were used to make the bronze from which objects like statues, tripods, and weapons were formed. Lead was an important mineral as well, and was used in the construction of water pipes and other features of architecture, such as tenons and column drums. It was also used as a stain in ornamental painting. Iron, meanwhile, was the most widely available metal in ancient Greece, and served to make arms and tools. Mercury - or liquid silver - was used as an ointment ingredient, as well as a pigment of the color red.
Even in their earliest days, Greeks used perfume in funeral rites, as seen in Achilles's anointing of Hector's body in “The Iliad”. Perfume helped prepare and preserve the body for its “journey to the beyond”. Flasks of perfume also accompanied the deceased to their grave as a mark of social status and a balm for “the eternal banquets”. If the deceased was too poor to afford these bottles, they were painted on their coffins as a sort of empty consolation. Even when a body was burned on a pyre, mourners threw incense in the fire, and afterwards mixed the ashes and bones with precious ointments before enclosing them in funeral urns.
Perikles was one of the most influential men in Athenian politics during the second half of the 5th century BCE. Historians even refer to the period he was in power as “The Age of Perikles”. Athens flourished under Perikles's leadership. With his guiding hand, the Delian League transformed into the Athenian empire, and all the League's members were made to regularly pay tribute to the city. Because of this new income, Athens was able to erect extravagant monuments on the Akropolis, such as the famous Parthenon. During the Peloponnesian War, Perikles's strategy was to conduct a naval war, preferring to keep himself within the walls of Athens. However, as a consequence of the city's overpopulation, a plague spread through the population and killed many people, including Perikles himself.
During the Peloponnesian War, Perikles's strategy was to avoid land combat with the Spartans in favor of taking advantage of Athens's naval supremacy. He also recommended that the population of Attika leave their houses and take refuge within Athens's walls.
The latter action ended up vastly increasing the city's population. Many of the refugees ended up camping in Piraeus, which became crowded as a result.Within the same year, a plague began spreading through Piraeus. Due to the dense population, the epidemic quickly spread to Athens, killing approximately twenty-five percent of the population - including Perikles himself.
Philippides was a "hemerodrome", a professional runner who served Athens as a herald.
According to Herotodotus, Athens sent Philippides to ask Sparta for aid at Marathon. During his journey, he encountered the god Pan in the mountains. Pan — who was half-man, half-goat — complained that the Athenians did not honor him as much as they should have — especially since he could render helpful services like sowing panic and terror in the ranks of their enemies. Following the Battle of Marathon, the Athenians corrected their neglectful attitude towards Pan, and thanked him for his help in their victory.
Poseidon was the god of horses, earthquakes, and most famously, the sea. Not to be confused with Pontos, the ancient Greek personification of the sea, Poseidon's name means “Lord of the earth” or “husband of the earth”. Poseidon's family tree includes his father Kronos, his mother Rhea, and his brothers, Zeus and Hades. Together, Poseidon and his brothers deposed Kronos, after which Poseidon was granted the kingdom of the sea. His weapon and symbol was the trident. According to Hesiod, much like Zeus's thunderbolts, Poseidon's trident was made for him by three Cyclopes.
There was no professional qualification needed to become a priest or a priestess. A wealthy family, luck, and, less often, the will of the Public Assembly were the only criteria that mattered. Many priesthoods stayed within the same families or clans for generations, as the appointment of priests outside the members of the clan was strictly prohibited. For example, in Athens, both the priestess of Athena Polias and Poseidon- Erechtheus had to come from the Eteoboutadai. Priests and priestesses were in charge of the sacrifices to the gods, and of any other cultic duties preserved by tradition. They also assisted political leaders and other citizens who wished to correctly perform public and private religious activities. Lastly, they presided over the affairs and resources of their assigned sanctuary. They were held in high esteem by their fellow citizens, and their political opinions carried a lot of weight in public debates. In certain cities, the annual priesthood of the main cult was even used as a way of measuring time. Priests and priestesses also received significant shares of the sacrifices they performed. Although priests generally enjoyed the same freedoms and rights as citizens - like that of living at their own homes - they also had to follow restrictive rules. Besides more general requirements such as fasting and undergoing a period of chastity before certain rituals, there were also strange restrictions. For example, in Attika, the priestess of Athena Polias was not allowed to eat cheese.
In ancient Greece, priests and priestesses were either designated or elected from among citizens and clerical families. They performed sacred rituals on special occasions like festivals, or when otherwise required. Priest houses are often linked with the priesthood, but priests did not actually live in them, preferring to stay at their own homes in the city's residential quarter. Instead, the main purpose of priest houses was to provide priests with a space to carry out their rituals during specific days on the religious calendar. Priest houses were considered too sacred for the mundane activities of daily life, and priests had to perform purification rituals - such as a period of chastity - before they were allowed to enter.
Although some Athenian vases are lauded today as masterpieces, their exact value in ancient Greece is often a matter of debate. Workers in the Kerameikos were craftsmen, and operated largely outside the elite social spheres they often depicted on their pottery. This fact, combined with surprisingly low price indications on even the largest and most elaborate Athenian vases, suggest that vases were not exorbitantly expensive. However, certain dedications made by craftsmen like Euphronios hint that some workshops were very successful.
The Propylaia was the monumental gateway on the western side of the Akropolis. It was built between 437 and 432 BCE, under the supervision of either Phidias or Mnesikles, and was part of Perikles' plan to adorn the Akropolis with magnificent monuments. Although it was not seen as a military structure, the Propylaia was also used to restrict access to Athens' holiest area. It was conceived as a spectacular construction of Pentelic white marble and Elusinian grey marble, and its design was meant to stylistically mirror the Parthenon. The Propylaia's construction was suspended in 431 BCE due to the start of the Peloponnesian War, and was never resumed. This means that out of a very ambitious project, only the main building was finished. Nevertheless, with its five gates a ceiling painted with golden stars, it remained impressive. The gateway was also unique in that it mixed both Doric and Ionic columns, in addition to be reinforced with iron. The northern wing of the western façade housed a 10.75m x 9 m ritual dining room known as the Pinakotheke. According to Pausanias, the Pinakotheke was famous in antiquity for its paintings of Greek battles.
The easternmost building on the Akropolis was the open-air walled sanctuary of Pandion, built ca. 450 BCE. Pandion was a mythical Athenian hero invented in order to explain the beginnings of old rituals dedicated to certain gods - in this case, Zeus. He was probably credited with being the first to perform the rites of Pandia, a festival believed to have been dedicated to Zeus. The sanctuary housed his statue and served as a heroon, or a hero's shrine. Modern scholars believe this sanctuary's Pandion to be one of the two Legendary Athenian kings: either Pandion |, son of Erichthonius, or Pandion Il, father of Aigeus. When Kleisthenes established Athens's democracy in 507 BCE and divided the population in 10 newly created tribes, Pandion was selected to give his name to the Pandionis tribe, thus becoming one of the eponymous protectors of the Athenian population. Another statue of him was raised in the Agora - Athens's marketplace and public square - as part of the sculptural ensemble of the 10 eponymous heroes.
Besides Athena Polias and Poseidon-Erechtheus, Athenians believed their city was also protected by Zeus Polieos (of the city). This was based on Zeus being the judge of Athena and Poseidon's mythical competition to become Athen's chief deity. Consequently, a small walled open-air sanctuary was erected to Zeus Polieos ca. 500 BCE. There are no traces left of it, other than cuttings in the bedrock interpreted by archaelogists to be either remnants of a barn for sacrificial animals, or chutes designed to lead the animals to slaughter. The main ritual dedicated to Zeus Polieos was the Bouphonia (“the ox murder”), which took place each summer during the greater festival of Dipolieia. Two working oxen, whose sacrifice was normally prohibited, were led to the sanctuary altar, where grain was spread. The first ox to eat the grain was considered to consent to being sacrificed, and was slain by a member of the Thaulonidai family, who subsequently had to throw aside his axe and flee the Akropolis. That man and his companions were later tried for “murder”, but always acquitted. In the end the sacrificial axe (or knife) was found auiltv and thrown into the sea. The ritual, believed to be very archaic, was based on the myth of a priest who accidentally killed a ploughing ox and had to expliate the sin through annual sacrifices to Zeus. It reminded the ancient Athenians that laboring beasts should not be sacrificed, and that they should respect the sacred laws of raising special sacrificial animals. Modern scholars also think the ritual was a means to explain how humanity passed from grain and honey offerings to animal sacrifices.
Shipsheds were used to store ancient vessels called triremes. The sheds were essential, as triremes required methodical overhauling during the winter months when there was little to no naval navigation. The earliest shipsheds were built in the time of Themistokles, and Perikles later built more sheds for the sum of 1000 talents. The sheds were originally made of wood before transitioning to stone in the 4th century BCE.
Persian siege tactics were a bit more advanced than those of the Greeks, for they knew how to build ramps to get their troops past the city walls, and they also knew how to undermine them - this explains their successes in taking the lonian cities in Asia Minor that revolted before the outbreak of the Greco-Persian Wars. It would take another 200 years for the Greeks to Learn how to properly build siege machines that were capable of breaching walls. Usual siege tactics involved two main approaches. The first was starving a city into submission, but that was time consuming and exposed the besieging army to the same hardship as the besieged, and it was almost impossible if the city in question was supplied by sea - this being the case of Athens during these times. The second method involved having spies or collaborators within the city walls that would open the gates for the besiegers. Therefore, the most common option for the attacker was to devastate the fields of the defender to provoke the latter to accept an open battle. This explains, in a way, the development of the hoplite phalanx rather than hit and run tactics using skirmishers. The phalanx was formed of a line consisting of the very same citizens that were interested in defending their belongings and their crops, while hit and run tactics risked the destruction of those same crops.
The skene was a backstage area where costumes and accessories were stored. It was also where actors went for costume and mask changes. The word “skene” means “tent” or “hut”, suggesting that older versions of the structure were made of perishable material and were only meant to be temporary. Over time, however, the skene underwent many changes. The first permanent stage-house was built in Athens in 330 BCE. It had projecting structures called paraskenia at each end, and a forestage called a proskenion was added sometime later. Together with the proskenion came elevated Logeion, and an upper façade known as the episkenion which had large openings called thyromata. Together, all these structures provided actors with several different ways of entering and exiting the stage.
Sounion is located approximately 70 kilometers south of Athens, at the southern tip of the Attika region. Prehistoric tombs in the area suggest that Sounion was first inhabited around 3000 BCE.
The sanctuary of Poseidon stood at Sounion's highest point. It was an imposing structure that overlooked the sea from steep cliffs — Appropriate, for a place dedicated to the power god of the ocean.
Sounion held a festival every four years. While not much is known about the specifics of the festival, it probably occurred during the 5th century BCE, and was important enough for officials to commandeer a ship specifically to travel to Sounion for the occasion. Sounion hosted sacrifices as well, as evidenced by a ramp leading through the central door meant to Lead animals to the sanctuary. Fragments of Kouroi statues have also been found, suggesting dedications were occasionally offered to the sanctuary. However, when the first version of the temple was destroyed by Persians, these dedications were probably wrecked or stolen. Fortunately, one large Kouros statue, probably from the 7th century BCE, has remained mostly intact. It's possible the statue - which depicts a naked young man with long hair - survived the destruction of the temple by being hidden from the Persians during their invasion.
The South Stoa was, unsurprisingly, Located on the south side of the agora. Built during the first decade of the Peloponnesian War, the building was about 80 meters long, and large enough to contain sixteen rooms. Based on evidence of dining couches lining the walls, itis thought that some of these rooms were dining halls where magistrates were fed at public expense. The purpose of another room was inferred by the discovery of an inscription that suggested it was used by the metronomoi, the magistrates in charge of weights and measures. It's possible the other rooms had similar commercial functions, as excavations in the building have turned up numerous coins.
The Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios stood out because of its architecture. It followed the form of most civic buildings, but with the addition of two projecting wings on either side. On top of each of these wings were akroterion of Nike, the goddess of victory. The cult of Zeus Eleutherios, the "Zeus of Freedom”, was established after the Battle of Plataia in 479 BCE - the Greek : victory that ended the second Persian invasion. The Stoa was built in the latter half of the 5th century BCE. According to Pausanias, the shields of those who died fighting for the liberty of Athens were prominently displayed on the monument.
Despite the luxuriousness of public buildings, the streets of Athens were, for the most part, narrow and tortuous. Nevertheless, efforts were made to improve urban planning, such as in the 5th century BCE, when architect Hippodamos of Miletos created a grid plan of the city with parallel streets and rectangular intersections. Greek cities in the 5th century BCE also became more sanitary thanks to innovations like clean running water and sewers for waste removal. In Athens, streets and public places were placed in the care of special magistrates known as astynomoi, or “police officers”. The principal duty of these officials was to keep streets and sanctuaries clean, and to organize the efficient disposal of garbage outside the city walls.
Much of the silver mined in Laurion was later transformed into coins for Athens. Coin production was a two-step process. The first step was producing small disks of metal called "flans”, and the second was striking the flans into coins. Every coin produced had a specific weight that corresponded to its value. To achieve this precision, ancient Greeks used small pellets of silver to calculate the exact weight, then put the pellets into a mold. While smelting, the pellets melded together to form flans of a specific weight. The striking process involved hammering images onto the flans to turn them into coins. It is estimated that up to a few thousand coins could be produced in a single day.
During the Classical period, Dionysos was the most important Athenian deity after Athena herself. He was worshipped both inside and outside the city, and the festival dedicated to him - the Great Dionysia - integrated not only citizens, but also metics and foreigners from the colonies. Dionysos was portrayed as a double-faced god: both human and animal, male and effeminate, young and old. He dealt with murders, madness, and violence, but was also the nicest of the gods when it came to mortals. “The Bacchae”, a tragedy by Euripides, emphasizes Dionysos's duality. In the play, the god's worshippers are sweet and joyful, but a king named Pentheos is also murdered in his name.
The Battle of Salamis took place in 480 BCE, and ended in a stunning victory for the Greeks. The battle marked the end of the second Persian invasion of Greece.
After the Greek loss at the Battle of Thermopylai, cntral Greece was open to invasion by King Xerxes and his Persian forces. Xerxes was closer than ever to the vengeance he sought for the humilations his father Darius suffered during the first Persian invasion of Greece.
However, the city of Athens was much stronger than it had been during Darius' time. Rich with resources from the Laurion silver mines, the city used its considerate funds to finance its military effort, with the general Themistokles ordering the construction of 200 triremes.
The Athenians' strength was bolstered by their cooperation with other Greek cities. At Salamis, the Greeks faced their enemy together.The battle itself occurred as sea, in a small closed bay west of Athens. it was hard-fought on both sides, but in the end, the Persians suffered far more casualities than the Greeks.
The last step in the funeral process was placing the deceased into their tomb - an act known as “the deposition”. Although this was a holy ceremony, the presence of a priest was not required. Women handled almost all preparations. Small offerings were made to the dead - like when Achilles offered his hair to his dead friend Patroklos. A banquet called a perideipnon was held for mourners, and was typically prepared by the grieving women. This is why women were almost always the first to leave the funeral proceedings while others lingered.
A karyatid is an ancient architectural pillar or column in the shape of a young maiden. Many ancient buildings had karyatids, but the most famous of them is the Erechtheion. Its south porch was embellished with six karyatids, which were known in ancient Athens as korai, or “young maidens”. According to the Roman architect Vitruvius, the maiden- shaped columns were inspired by the women of the Lakonian town of Karyze, near Sparta. Karya's inhabitants betrayed the Greeks by plotting with the Persians, and as a consequence for this crime, the male population of the city was slaughtered, while the women were enslaved; hence their depiction as burden-baring piltars. Other, more positive myths suggest that the karyatids were inspired by the tall and beautiful maidens of Karyze, who would dance for the goddess Artemis. The karyatids' usage in the Erechtheion, where they stand above Kekrops's tomb, might be related to the king's funerary cult, as they originally held phialai - vessels for pouring libations to the dead.
The Panathenaia was the most important religious festival in ancient Athens. It was held each year at the end of July and beginning of August. Every four years, the festival was celebrated on an even greater scale - this was known as the Great Panathenaia. According to some scholars, the Great Panathenaia was expanded from the Lesser Panathenaia by the tyrant Peisistratos in 566 BCE, to serve as Athens's own version of the Olympic Games. The celebrations included a day procession of Athenian citizens and resident aliens, athletic games, music and rhapsodic contests, a night procession with a torch relay race, great sacrifices, and communal feasting. The festival was so important to ancient Athenians that many iconographic, sculptural, and written testimonies of the celebrations were preserved. Furthermore, numerous Panathenaic amphoras (containers) were discovered all over the Greek world. They were great vessels filled with the most expensive Athenian olive oil, and were awarded to the winners of the Panathenaic games. The amphoras were decorated with specific scenes - such as young men running or Athena Promachos wearing military equipment - and they could be sold by the champions for significant amounts of money.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Thermopylai, the Athenian authorities announced it was up to the city's own population to protect their families from the oncoming Persian threat. Athens's people scattered to Salamis, Aegina, and Argolis, and it's said that even the sacred snakes that protected the Akropolis fled the city. By the time the Persian army arrived in Athens, the only people left on the Akropolis were the sacred treasurers and the people who had stayed behind to barricade the citadel. The Persians killed the remaining Greeks and set fire to all of the Akropolis, including the Olive Tree of Athena. Allegedly, the sacred tree miraculousty grew back the following day - a hopeful image that ties in nicely with the Greeks' victory at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE.
The Themistoklean Walls were built out of slabs of stone connected by iron bolts and fixed with molded lead. Thucydides noted that it was easy to see that they were built in a hurry in the face of Spartan opposition. The Long Walls were meant to protect Athens in a different manner than a regular wall of the time. Since they connected the city with its two main harbors, they isolated Athens from the mainland and, as long as she had a navy - the most powerful one in the entire Greek world - it was technically impossible to starve Athens into submission. The very existence of these walls made possible the whole strategy of Perikles during the Peloponnesian War, which was to endure the Spartan invasions in the territory and to launch counter-attacks by landing troops wherever Sparta and her allies were vulnerable, gradually weakening them. The walls were about six kilometers long, and they were enforced with towers and ditches.
The remnants of the Laurion mines remain impressive today. Around 2,000 shafts and 140km of galleries have been discovered, and some ancient cisterns and washeries are still visible.
Sometime at the end of the óth century BCE, the Kerameikos hosted a group of artists now known as the Pioneers. The Pioneers were colleagues who worked in the at-the-time new red-figure style, exploring its artistic potential in revolutionary ways. Artists like Euthymides, Euphronios, Phintias, and Smikros - identified by signatures on their work almost 2500 years later - brought new innovations to portrayals of everything from aristocratic parties to mythological duels. The members of the Pioneers even playfully painted each other into different scenes. Among the Pioneers, Euphronios is one of the most famous. He is recognized for his skillful rendering of the human body, as well as the experimental perspectives he employed to bring scenes to life.
The Telesterion was the most important building of the sanctuary at the far end of the Sacred Way. This was the temple that was dedicated to Demeter, and the place where the cults and mysteries took place. It was here that the climax of the Eleusinian ceremonies happened, and it was in the Telesterion that the priestesses revealed their visions, and the initiates were prohibited from discussing the events that took place. The Telesterion was a square or rectangular building of approximately fifty meters across with two entrances on each side, with an exception on the western side that was built on the rock. Inside there were eight rows of seats, and forty columns supported the roof. In the center of the roof there was a hole from where the light would enter the temple. In the center of the Telesterion was a rectangular room called the anaktoron, where all the sacred objects of the cult were kept, and where only the Hierophant could enter. Today the architectural remains visible on the site are those of the Classical building.
Theseus is a hero linked with the mythological origins of Athens. He was responsible for the political unification of Attika, and as such, was considered a symbol of Athenian democracy. The myth of Theseus goes back to the 7th century BCE, but it wasn't until the 5th century BCE that he started to be incorporated into Athens' civic ideology as the founder of the city. Theseus was the son of Aegeus, king of Athens, and Athira, daughter of Pittheus. Athira was also possessed by Poseidon, which means Theseus had a divine father in addition to a mortal one. Athira gave birth to Theseus on the island of Sphairos. After growing up, Theseus travelled from Sphairos to Athens, accomplishing several labors along the way. These labors include killing the bandits Periphetes, Kerkyon, and Prokruste and kill the Krommyonian Sow, a wild pig that was ravaging the region of Krommyon. However, Theseus is best known for his capture of the bull of Marathon, and his killing of the ferocious Minotaur.
Miners used a variety of tools in their work. To cut galleries, they mostly used an iron chisel with a hammer, along with levels and wedges. Ore and sterile rocks were later removed from these galleries with either leather sacks or baskets of woven grass. Oil lamps and torches, meanwhile, provided lighting for the miners. The lights were designed to last for an entire work shift. Finally, mine maps were drawn on plates and stones to depict topography.
Trials were presided over by official magistrates, and the jury was composed of citizens, or heliasts. Any citizen could make an accusation, and if the defendant was convicted, the accuser received a portion of the sentenced fine. This practice led to the eventual appearance of professional accusers known as Sycophants. The accuser and defendant were given equal time to speak, and their allotted time was measured by a water clock called a “klepsydra”. Their speeches were often prepared by professionals known as logographs. After the speeches, jurors secretly cast their votes by putting a token in one of two urns. Interestingly, if the accusation was unfounded, the accuser could be convicted instead.
A tumulus was a special tomb in which the ashes of cremated bodies were collected in purple cloth — purple being the mark of royalty. The ashy remains were then placed in a bronze urn.
There is a large tumulus in the Kerameikos that was used from the 560's BCE to the end of the 5th century BCE.
Ancient Greek pottery came in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and served a multitude of different purposes. Unfortunately, there are few clues as to what different kinds of vases were called. However, modern scholars have assigned certain Greek words to different vases based on their size and possible function. Pottery vessels were ubiquitous in the ancient world, and were used for everyday activities Like eating and drinking. They were also used in religious functions and athletic competitions, and some even served as baby rattles. The types of vases associated with symposia - the all-male drinking parties of the Athenian elite - are some of the most well-known examples of Athenian pottery. For example, amphoras held wine, while mixing bowls called kraters were used to dilute the wine with water. Meanwhile, oinochoe functioned as pitchers, and kylixes were used as shallow wine cups.
Most vases made in Athens ended up far away from the Kerameikos, traveiling as far France, the Near East, and Egypt. Boatloads of Athenian pottery were also shipped across the Mediterranean Sea to be sold in Italy, where they made their way into homes, religious sanctuaries, and graves. One of the richest export markets for pottery was Etruria in central Italy. As a result, Etruria is the source of some of the best-preserved Athenian vases. Some of these vases have even been marked with Etruscan graffiti that allows archaeologists to learn more about their functions.
In addition to being a trading center, Piraeus also functioned as an industrial center that contained several factories - many of which manufactured weapons during the Peloponnesian War. The former slave Pasion owned a shield factory, as did the brothers Lysias and Polemarchos. The orator Demosthenes, meanwhile, owned a factory that produced swords. These factories all employed a large number of slaves, and were extremely lucrative for their owners.
(Behind the scenes) Greece is known for blistering hot sun, crystal clear seas, and sandy beaches, but there is much more to the weather in Odyssey than that. The weather system is huge and systemic, the density of the clouds change to allow for storms and rain to rollin off the sea. As art director Thierry Dansereau jokes, “Since Syndicate, the team knows a lot about the rain!" The weather also changes between biomes, complementing the different topographies and creating a dynamic, unpredictable environment. In these images, adverse weather highlights very different atmospheres for the player to navigate, giving the game a more immersive and realistic feel. “To Enter the city of Athens, you had to walk through a cemetery and pass near numerous corpses of criminals sentenced to death...Nothing there to make you smile. Imagine when it was raining...” - Caroline Soucy.
While Greek houses had windows, they usually looked out onto the central courtyard, as opposed to the outside streets. They were placed either on the first floor, or on a high wall so passers-by couldn't peek inside. The windows were small and without glass. They were often made of wood, but could also be simple holes in the wall. Some windows also had massive stone lintels and embrasures. The windows were probably closed by means of wooden shutters, large grilles of wood or metal, or stone slabs.
In the 5th century BCE, the great statesman Perikles invited Kephalos of Syracuse - father of the orator Lysias - to Athens, where he wished him to open a weapons workshop. Kephalos accepted, and settled in the Piraeus, the city's harbor. His workshop revolved around the production of shields, and was particularly extensive; it's is said that as many as 120 slaves “worked” there. In comparison, the father of Demosthenes, another Athenian orator, owned a sword-making workshop that employed thirty or so slaves, but brought in 3,000 drachmae a year - with the wages of a skilled worker being one drachma a day. Yet another illustrious Athenian, Sophokles, was born to a wealthy manufacturer of armor. Unfortunately, we have little information on these large or small workshops, which where probably numerous in ancient Greece.
Athletes were primarily from the upper class. They had to be rich to afford the expenses of training and their participation in the Games. Alkibiades, an aristocrat from an eminent family, was one of these very wealthy athletes. His preference was for horse races - these events were reserved for the wealthiest participants. A good illustration of his financial power was during the Olympic Games of 416 BCE. He participated with a whopping seven chariots in the quadriga race, and won first, second, and fourth place. He was the first to ever enroll this many chariots in one race, and in the context of the Peloponnesian War, this was a demonstration that Athens was still powerful. Alkibiades increased that impression with a magnificent feast, and even used official Athenian gold and silver plates for the occasion.
Giving a proper funeral to the dead was considered one of the most important gestures in a person's life. It was believed that the soul left the body upon death, and if not properly buried, the soul wouldn't find peace in the underworld. Burial therefore had a spiritual purpose, but also a practical one in minimizing the festering of decaying bodies. This pollution of decay and the impiety of leaving the bodies without burial was a key explanation for the widespread practice of allowing defeated enemies to collect their dead after battle.
The twelfth and final labor of Herakles was the capture of Cerberos, the three-headed hound protecting the entrance to the underworld. Herakles first visited Eleusis and participated in the Eleusinian Mysteries to prepare himself for the descent. The entrance was believed to be in Cape Tenaron, at the far end of Lakonia. Hades agreed to give Cerberos to Herakles, but only if he managed to subdue the hound without any weapons. Herakles was successful in his task. When Herakles brought Cerberos to Eurystheas, Eurystheas begged him to return the beast to the underworld, then released Herakles from any future labors.
The cult personnel of Olympia was made up of priests who fulfilled different sacred purposes. Theêkoloi were responsible for the general organization of the cult, and performed sacrifices every month. They burned incense mixed with grain kneaded in honey on the site's different altars, and poured libations of wine. Two soothsayers fulfilled the divining role previously hetd by Olympia's Oracle of Zeus, and four spondophoroi worked as libation bearers. Meanwhile, exegetes were in charge of explaining Olympia's rituals to foreigners who came to the sanctuary to sacrifice. There was also a mageiros, who was something of a butcher and cook. The mageiros killed the animal being sacrificed, cut it, and cooked it so it could be served at a later banquet. The very first Olympic winner, Koroibos of Elis, was a mageiros.
Elis is most famous for its sanctuary of Olympia where the Olympics were held. The main divinity of the sanctuary was Zeus; its main temple was dedicated to him, and housed the famous gold and ivory statue of Zeus made by Phidias. Zeus was known as the king of gods and god of thunder. One of his attributes was the thunderbolt, which was given to him by the Cyclopes. The coinage of Elis is associated with Olympia, and Zeus is often depicted on the coins. They sometimes feature a head of Zeus, but he's also commonly represented by his thunderbolt - which served as the model for the region's banner - or his signifying animal, the eagle.
(Behind the scenes) Hilltop forts formed the main line of defense against the invading armies. They are built of stone packed around wooden frames as demonstrated in the fort at the bottom of the page, created by Michael Guimont. It's up to the Hero to infiltrate these to bring them down from the inside, allowing the army to advance, as shown in concept art by Caroline Soucy (far right). But these are not simple structures, as Benjamin Hall explains, “Forts are some of the most complex challenges design wise. These locations need to offer something different for the player from both a visual and gameplay point of view."
Ancient Greek heroes were viewed as intermediates between gods and men. Consequently, hero-cults were a distinctive feature of Greek religion. Most heroes originated from heroic epics, such as Pelops in Olympia, but this quality was not always necessary. For example, Erechtheus of Athens had a local hero-cult without ties to an epic. On some occasions, extraordinary humans - such as the founders of cities - could also become the objects of a cult, like Brasidas in Amphipolis. Hero-shrines, or heroons, were often constructed around the hero's real for suspected) tombs. One exception amongst hero-cults was the cult of Herakles. Herakles was considered as much as god as hero, and his cult was widespread. There were many large sanctuaries dedicated to the demigod, such as the Herakleion in Thasos, where he was viewed as one of the city's protectors.
The Kladeos river borders the western side of Olympia. lts name comes from the river-god Kladeos, who according to Pausanias shared an altar with Demeter behind the sanctuary's temple of Hera. Originally, Olympia's gymnasion and baths were erected along the river's banks, but part of the gymnasion was destroyed when the river changed course in the 4th century CE. The river's new trajectory - along with flooding from the Alpheios river in the Middle Ages - buried Olympia in approximately four meters of silt, and the site was only rediscovered in the 19th century.
The site of Olympia is dominated on the northern side by the Hill of Kronos. This Titan, who was the father of Zeus and the Olympians, was worshipped on the top of the hill. Prophecy told that Kronos would be dethroned by one of his children. Because of this, he devoured the children he had with Rhea as soon as they were born. But when Zeus was born, Rhea fooled Kronos by hiding Zeus in Krete and replacing him with a stone wrapped in clothes. Once he had grown up, Zeus managed to free his brothers and sisters and make them his allies. The following war between Olympians and Titans for the supremacy of the universe is called the Titanomachy. Zeus also freed the Cyclopes who created the thunderbolt for him. Zeus and his allies won the war and imprisoned the Titans in Tartaros. The Titan Atlas received another punishment as he was ordered to hold up the sky. Zeus became king of the gods, and thus began the age of the Olympians.
Some athtetes achieved a level of fame that bordered on mythical. The wrestler Milon of Kroton was one of them. In the éth century BCE, he won events in every Panhellenic Game, granting him the rare privilege of the title of periodonikes. He won six victories in Olympia, in addition to several other titles in the Panhellenic Games of Delphi, Nemea, and Isthmos. He was appointed general by his city, and led an army during the war between Kroton and Sybaris. In the battle that Led to the destruction of Sybaris, Milon dressed like Herakles, wearing a lion-skin and carrying a club. Milon's strength was Legendary. He is reported to have carried his own bronze statue to its place in Olympia. However, he was not invincible. When he participated in his seventh Otympiad, he competed against a fellow from Kroton in the final. Before combat started, the opponent bowed as a sign of respect, then managed to defeat Milon. Even so, it is Milon's name that history remembers.
The modern concept of lighting of the Olympic Flame - a practice started during the 1936 Games in Berlin - has its roots in antiquity. The carrying of the torch was at least partially inspired by the lampadedromia, a relay-race that required runners to reach the finish line while holding a still-burning torch. However, although the lLampadedromia was held at many religious festivals and sporting events, it was not an event in the ancient Olympic Games. Instead, the most important flame in Olympia was the sacred Fire of Hestia, which was used to light the sanctuary's altars during the festival.
Though not part of the official competition, the first day ofthe Olympic festival featured recitals and teachings from poets and philosophers. Because Olympia was a public space, it provided these orators an excellent opportunity to earn the ear of wealthy aristocrats with the goal of turning them into future patrons. Oral tradition was so important in ancient Greece that some Panhellenic festivals - like the Pythian Games in Delphi - included orating contests as part of the official program.
Until up to 584 - 580 BCE, the Olympic Games were organized by the Oxylides, an aristocratic family from the city of Elis. Over time, however, the family seemingly died out, and the responsibility of organizing the Games passed on to other members of the Elaian aristocracy who were chosen randomtly by lot. The first organizers of the games were originally called agonothetai - literally “those who held the games” - but their name was eventually changed to hellanodikai.
The fifth labor of Herakles consisted of cleaning the stables of Augeas, king of Elis. This was a rather humiliating task, since the cattle that lived in the stables were immortal. Not only that, but they were more than one thousand in number, and produced an enormous amount of dung. The stables had been filthy for thirty years, which made the task nearly impossible. In this case, Herakles used his brain instead of this brawn. He redirected the rivers Alpheus in the Peloponnese and Pineios in Thessaly to the site. The water went through the stables and thoroughly cleaned them. Untike the other labors, it appears that Herakles was paid for the task. He asked for one tenth of the cattle if he managed to clean the stables in one day. However, he killed Augeas when the king didn't honor the deal, and gave the kingdom to Phyleas, Augeas's son.
The Bouleuterion of Olympia was one of the first buildings constructed in the site. The council of Olympia met in the Bouleuterion to discuss matters regarding the sanctuary. They appointed priests, arbitrated conflicts between athletes and hellanodikai (judges), and decided which victors to erect statues for, as well as where to put them. The Bouleuterion also housed archives of records from previous Olympiads, in addition to the statue of Zeus Horkios, in front of which athletes and trainers swore their Olympic oath.
The fourth labor of Herakles was considered very dangerous. Eurystheas asked Herakles to bring to him the boar that lived on the mountain Eurymantos. Centaurs, half horses and half- men renowned for being wise, lived on the same mountain. It was the famous centaur Chiron - who later became the tutor of Achilles - who advised Herakles on how to catch the boar. Herakles drove the boar into the snow, captured it, and carried it back to Eurystheas, who was so afraid of the animal that he hid himself inside a pithos [container].
The sanctuary is very ancient. Its use goes back to the third millennium BCE. At first, it was only a sacred forest. From about 1000 BCE onward, a cult of Zeus developed on the site of Olympia. The traditional date of the first Olympic festival is 776 BCE, which is also the date of the first recorded winner of the Games: Koroibos of Elis, who won the stadion race. The Olympic Games have their origins in ritual funeral games. Funeral games were held to honor the deceased, and might have celebrated civic heroes or private individuals. In “The Iliad”, Homer related that Achilles held games for his friend Patroklos who died in the Trojan War. It is the most ancient mention of this ritual, but they are attested to well into the Hellenistic period. Brasidas, the Spartan general, died in the battle of Amphipolis during the Peloponnesian War. He was honored as the new founder of the city, and funeral games were organized and became an annual event.
The main buildings where athletes trained were the gymnasion and the palaistra. In the gymnasion, athletes trained for races and pentathlon events. In the palaistra, they trained for wrestling and boxing. Wrestlers and boxers could train in the Korykeion room, where a suspended leather bag full of sand [korykos] served as a sort of punching bag. All athletes competed and trained nude. The reason for the introduction of athletic nudity is not immediately clear. The etymology of gymnasion pointed to nudity, as the Greek word gymnos means “nude”. According to Thucydides, this innovation came from Sparta. He says that Lakedaimonians were the first to practice sports naked. Tradition says that Acanthos of Sparta, who won the diaulos and the dolichos races in the Olympic Games of 720 BCE, would have been the first to do this. But Pausanias had another version of the story. He tells that the first to run naked in Olympia was Orhippos of Megaris in 720 BCE. He supposedly did this believing that nudity would help him run faster.
The modern Olympics were inspired by the ancient Games of Olympia. A French nobleman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was convinced of the parallel importance of the development of mind and body, and he saw this ideal in ancient Greek culture. He had the idea to revive the Games, and started to promote this notion. At this time, excavations had begun at the original site of Olympia. The ancient site was rediscovered in 1766 by Richard Chandler, an English antiquarian, but the first excavation was carried out in 1829. The excavation reports inspired de Coubertin, who became obsessed with the athletic ideal of Olympia, which he thought would inspire competitiveness and team spirit amongst nations. The first modern games were held in 1896 in Athens.
Although women were not allowed to compete in the Olympic Games, it was still possible for them to win the equestrian events. This is because horse and chariot races awarded not the jockeys or chariot drivers, but the owner of the horses. The first woman to participate in (and win) one of these races was the Spartan princess Kyniska. She won events both in 396 BCE, and in the following Olympiad, and her victories made her world-famous. She even erected a statue of herself and her horses in Olympia. After her death, she was made a hero in Sparta, and a shrine was builtin her honor. Following Kyniska, other women like Euryleonis of Sparta, Berenike, queen of Egypt, Belistiche of Makedonia, and Timareta of Elis also went on to win equestrian events.
The Boeotian banner naturally depicts the Boeotian shield, which was the main type of coinage of Thebes, and later of the Boeotian confederation. The shield is the most important weapon of defense. Greek soldiers usually used a round-shaped shield, the aspis, but Boeotians eventually developed an oval shield with a semicircular indentation on either side of the middle. This would have reduced its weight, and allowed the bearer to thrust and stab while staying protected. None of these shields have survived, which may suggest they were made from animal hides instead of bronze or wood like other shields.
The main god of the sea was Poseidon. There were temples dedicated to him in many coastal cities, such as Cape Sounion south of Athens. Fish, like other animals, were offered as sacrifices for the gods. A painting described by Athenaios showed Poseidon offering a tuna to Zeus just before he gave birth to Athena. It was believed that in order to get a good tuna harvest, one needed to sacrifice eels to Poseidon. Fish were also used in divination. The Lykians, for example, practiced ichthyomancy. Meat was thrown into a special sinkhole to attract fish, and depending on which species were attracted, the response from the gods was determined.
The city of Orchomenos in Boeotia has origins going back to the Neolithic period. Discovered in the 19th century, it was excavated by Heinrich Schliemann - the same person who discovered and searched for the cities of Troy, Mycenae, and Tiryns. The excavations left few details. Remains of fortifications dated to the 4th century BCE were discovered. A tholos tomb known as the Treasury of Minyas was also uncovered. The possible remains of a Mycenaean palace on the flank of the akropolis would have been found just above the spring of the Charites. Fragments of paintings have also been found in the vast architectural complex between the 9th century church and the theater. Clues suggest that the church, one of the oldest in Greece, was built on the remnants of the Charites temple. The remains of a theater also dating back to the 4th century BCE are still visible today.
(Behind the scenes) In Greek mythology, the Sphinx was a creature with the face of a human, the wings of a bird, and the body of a lion. The Assassin's Creed Odyssey team have melded more than one mythological creature into their Sphinx, adding elements off the mythological Chimera, like the tail ending in a snake head. The Sphinx offers a different challenge to the Hero, explains Thierry Dansereau, “You cannot defeat her by force, instead you must answer her riddle.” In traditional myth, those who cannot answer her riddle suffer a terrible fate: killed and devoured by the beast. “It was challenging to try to create a menacing creature but still have a feeling of beauty to transpire.” - Gabriel Blain
(Behind the scenes) Assassin's Creed Odyssey's focus on the details is what really takes the game to the next Level in terms of immersion. The sheer variety of textures that make up the layered background to the cities and landscapes are what give the locations their character and quality. The art and development team are constantly pushing the boundaries, aiming for bigger, better, and higher quality than ever before. The textures here are a fraction of what appears in the game. Even the simplest white stone blocks are not plain but richly detailed with grains and imperfections. The colorful tiles and murals speak to the craftsmanship of Greece itself, giving history and life to each wall and column.
The Persians' crusshing defeat at the Battle of the Salamis in 480 BCE greatly discouraged King Xerxes from continuing his invasion. However, one of Xerxes' military commanders, Mardonios, convinced the king that their campaign could continue. Mardonios' hopes were dashed the following year at the Battle of Plataia. The Greeks, who were outnumbered by the Persians, held their own in the open countryside. They fought until they were victorious, killing Mardonios in the process and putting an end to the second Persian invasion of Greece.
(Behind the Scenes)Created by Nika Rukavishnikova for each of the twenty-seven regions in Assassin's Creed Odyssey, the flags represent the color and iconography of their region. For example, Athens is easily identifiable as the blue banner with the owl symbol. Krete shows the bull head, and Sparta the rich red with a gold lambda. The flags also denote the export or main industry of that region. A lot of historical research was referenced for these designs, particularly from coins of the period and region.
The banner of Thasos depicts the head of Herakles, inspired by the area's coinage. Herakles had an important sanctuary the city and was the hero-protector of Thasos. He is shown wearing a lion-skin headdress - the scalp of the Nemean lion he killed with his bare hands. The iconography of the coin itself is a precise copy of a relief of the gate of Herakles, one of the entrances to the city. All gates were decorated by reliefs - there was also a gate of Hermes, a gate of Zeus, and a gate of the Silenos, amongst others. The gate of Herakles led to the Herakleion, the sanctuary dedicated to him.
Euripides's “Bacchae” features the tale of how the god Dionysos introduced wine to Attika. The story goes that Dionysos found hospitality in the home of lkarios and his daughter Erigone. During his stay, Dionysos showed his mortal host how to cultivate vine plants and turn their fruit into wine. Later, Ikarios gave his wine to some shepherds. Not used to the feeling of drunkenness, the shepherds thought that lkarios had poisoned them, and killed him in response. Stricken with grief for the death of her father, Erigone hung herself from the branches of the tree that stood where her father was buried.
Thasian wine was very popular in the Greek world, and it was in such high-demand that adulteration and imitation wines became major issues. To combat these issues, a law was established by the citizens and landowners of Thasos that forbid any foreign wine from entering Thasian territory. They also prohibited the selling of wine in jugs or cups, to ensure that wine could only be sold in properly labelled amphoras or pithoi marked with a stamp of authenticity. Below is text from a stele outlining the details of the law: “No Thasian ship shall import foreign wine within Athos and Pacheia; if it does, the owner shall be Liable to the same penalties as for adulterating the wine with water, and the helmsman shall be liable to the same penalty ... Nor shall anyone sell wine by the kotyle either from amphoras or from a cask or from a false [unlabeled] pithos; and whoever sells it, the lawsuits and the deposits and the penalties shall be the same as for adulterating it with water.”
(Behind the scenes) The development team kept the siblings as close as possible in look and feel, with a few distinctions. Alexios has a different body and gait, he's larger and sports dark brown dreadlocks, but they share the same coloring and variations on the same outfits. Alexios and Kassandra fight with a sword, bow, or spear. The development team wanted to show proactive combat, wielding dual weapons with a focus on attack rather than defense. Earty concept sketches of Alexios by Fred Rambaud show different outfits and weapons, from bare-chested brawler, to full Spartan warrior.
Pegasos was the mythical winged-horse bred by the dead Medusa after Perseus killed her. Bellerophon captured the animal while it drank water from a well. Pegasos helped Bellerophon in fighting and killing Chimera in Lycia. Chimera was a monster that had the body of a goat, the head of a lion, and the tail of a snake. Bellerophon attacked her from the sky, and thought of placing a block of lead on the tip of his spear. He threw the spear - aiming for the neck of the fire-breathing monster - and the heat of the fire made the lead melt, asphyxiating her. Bellerophon returned victorious, but several quests followed that would leave him blind and miserable.
Pitch and timber were the main materials used to create triremes. The pitch was produced from various trees and was extracted by heat. The pitch and wax were customarily applied, either successively or as a mixture, to the wetted surface of the ship's hull, giving the vessel its speed potential as well as its watertightness and protection from sea microorganisms. The seams of newly built warships - as well as older ships under maintenance - were caulked with flax soaked in pitch. It seems likely that a new coat of pitch was put on before each new sailing. Although pitch was used generously on the triremes' hulls, they seem to have leaked water into the bilges fairly quickly. This is why ships had to be beached and dried out. The emphasis of lightness for the hull timber was obviously a prime consideration in its overall design. For lightness combined with strength, a trireme's timber was mostly made of soft wood such as pine and fir, but the keel was made of oak for extra strength. Masts were made of fir - one of the tallest and straightest trees - while carefully prepared rough, young fir trees ensured that the grain of the wood was aligned along the shafts, making the oars strong for their weight. For the inner part of the ships, larch (pitys) or plane (platanos) were also used because of their Light weight, while the stem-posts adjoining the breastwork and the bow timbers were made of ash, mulberry, and elm. One result of using softwoods was that the trireme hull tended to soak up water. The hulls not onty became waterlogged and leaky, but they also suffered from the scourge of wooden ships: the marine borer (teredo navalis). Consequently, alltriremes were beached and carried out of the water as often as possible to dry and clean their hulls.
It is archeologically attested that systematic reuse of wood from old ships was practiced throughout antiquity. When triremes were sunk during a sea battle, combatants went to great lengths and took heavy risks to recover the wreck. Sometimes, vessels were towed home as prizes, and after being repaired, equipped, and renamed, they became part of the enemy navy. In addition, older triremes were used as service vessels. One was the “soldier-vessel”, a troop transport. There was also the “horse-transport”, made out of old triremes by removing the two lower levels of seats and converting the space into stalls for thirty horses.
Jason was the rightful king of lolkos in Thessaly, though the position was occupied by King Pelias. When Jason appeared in front of Pelias and asked to return to the throne, Pelias told him that he should bring him the Golden Fleece. This was the fleece of the golden ram held in Kolchis. Jason set out on this quest with his crew, the Argonauts. After several adventures, they arrived in Kolchis to claim the fleece. While there, Jason felLin love with the witch Medea, daughter of Aietes, the king of Kolchis. Medea helped Jason in the quests her father required, and her potion lulled the giant snake that was protecting the Golden Fleece to sleep. Once he held the fleece tightly in hand, Jason began his journey back home, with Medea at his side.
(Behind the scenes) We first meet Kassandra in her home on Kephallonia; she is a mercenary, hardened and scarred by her experiences. When designing her features, the team wanted her to look strong and vibrant. Bringing such a character to life includes the smallest of details. “We had to create a false reflection in her eyes to ensure she looked alive. She needed to Look great in every angle," explains Thierry Dansereau.
On his way back home, Odysseus found himself on the island of the Cyclops - giants that have one single eye in the center of their forehead. Odysseus reached the island and entered a cave with his companions. They were so hungry, they began to drink and eat everything in sight. When a Cyclops named Polyphemos returned to the cave with his flock, he blocked the entrance with an enormous rock, and began to eat the men. Trapped, Odysseus introduced himself as simply “nobody”, and offered wine to the confused Cyclops. Once the giant was drunkenly asleep, Odysseus blinded him with a burning wooden stake. The next day, Odysseus and his men escaped the cave hidden under the bellies of animals, while the blinded Polyphemos shouted to his fellow Cyclopes that he was blinded by "nobody".
The sirens were beautiful but deadly creatures that lived on a rocky island. Their song was so enchanting, sailors who heard their singing fell to the rocks. Sirens were half-women, half-birds - or at least, that was how they were represented in Greek art. They were usually depicted played musical instruments, such as harps. In "The Odyssey”, Odysseus was very curious to listen to them, so Circe the witch told him how he could enjoy their song without danger. Odysseus had his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the pole of his ship. When they passed near the sirens, Odysseus was mesmerized by the song. He begged his sailors to release him, but they couldn't hear him. This trick saved his life and the lives of his companions.
Skylla was a mythological female sea monster that was placed opposite Charybdis in a very narrow passage of water, thought to be the channel of Messina. The mention of Skylla is first seen in “The Odyssey”, when Odysseus and his companions had to travel the channel and found themselves between the two monsters. Circe advised Odysseus to sail at full speed, but closer to Skylla - Charybdis was more dangerous and could sink the entire ship. Odysseus followed this advice, and as they passed by, Skylla devoured six of his men. They quickly escaped, and managed to pass through with no further losses.
Typhon was an extremely dangerous monster in Greek mythology. À giant serpent-like creature with “a hundred heads, fearful eyes, and terrible voices”, Typhon was either the son of Gaia (goddess of the earth] and Tartaros [one of the primordial deities), or of Hera, or of Kronos. At some point, Typhon chalienged Zeus in order to overthrow him and take his place. The battle between them was desperate, but Zeus managed to win with the aid of his powerful thunderbolts. After losing to Zeus, what happened to Typhon differs depending on the account. He was either thrown to Tartaros, the deep abyss, or buried under either Mount Etna, or under the volcanic island Ischia. Zeus, on the other hand, became the legitimate ruler of the gods.
According to the myth told by Ovid, when Aphrodite met the infant Adonis, she was immediately smitten with him. She decided to take care of him by hiding him in a chest, and asked Persephone, the queen of the underworld, to educate him. However, Persephone also fell in Love with Adonis. On the day Aphrodite descended into the underworld to retrieve the young Adonis, Persephone refused to return the boy, who had become her lover. The two women turned to Zeus to judge who should have Adonis, and Zeus asked the muse Kalliope to make the decision. In the end, it was decided that Adonis would spend fourth months with Aphrodite, four with Persephone, and four alone to rest. However, Adonis decided - either on his own or through Aphrodite's magical influence - to spend his four months of “rest” with Aphrodite. Aphrodite and Adonis continued their passionate relationship until one day, Adonis was mortally wounded while hunting a boar. Aphrodite heard her lover's moans of pain from her flying chariot, but by the time she arrived by his side, it was too late to save him. The goddess cried tears of blood that fell onto the ground, and from them sprouted either the purple anemone flower or the rose, depending on the version of the story.
In mythology, Aphrodite was the wife of Hephaistos, the god of metallurgy. However, she also had an affair with Ares, the god of war. One night, after spending too long together, Ares and Aphrodite were caught by Helios, who informed Hephaistos of his wife's infidelity. In a fit of rage, Hephaistos captured Ares and Aphrodite in an unbreakable net, then summoned the rest of the gods to bear witness to his dishonor. Afterwards, Aphrodite went to Paphos to renew her virginity in the sea. This virginity did not last, however, as she later had a relationship with Hermes which resulted in the birth of Hermaphroditos, a being of two sexes.
After a baby was born, it was presented to the father, who would then decide its fate. If the child was a girl or showed signs of a disability, they were occasionally abandoned and left to die.
Wealthier families could hire caretakers or employ their slaves as nurses to look after their children. This was a necessary precaution, as children were very susceptible to diseases and illnesses.Education in Greece was reserved for boys and young men. Rich families could hire tutors to teach their daughters skills like reading, but this was not the norm, and girls were mainly taught how to run the household.
Jason was the legendary Greek hero who led the Argonauts, a group of adventurers named after their ship, the Argo. Together, they set out to steal the magical Golden Fleece, and eventually succeeded with the help of a sorceress named Medea.
Jason married Medea, and the couple eventually settled in the city of Korinth. But the couple's happy ending was short-lived; when Jason met the king of Korinth's daughter, Glauke, he abandoned Medea to seek the princess' hand in marriage.
Enraged, Medea gifted Glauke a dress that was secretly poisoned. Upon wearing the dress, Glauke was burned alive.
The ending of the story varies. Either Medea's children were stoned to death as punishment for her murder of Glauke, or Medea herself killed her children as a way of getting revenge on Jason.The legend of Medea was later told in a tragedy by the famous playwright Euripides.
The banner of Korinthia was inspired by the coinage of Korinth, which depicts Pegasos. Pegasos, the mythical winged horse, was captured in Korinth by Bellerophon near the Peirene fountain. The hero then rode him to defeat the monstrous creature Chimera. When Bellerophon fell from Pegasos while trying to reach Mount Olympos, Zeus gave Pegasos the task of carrying thunderbolts. The god later granted Pegasos the honor of becoming a constellation.
(Behind the scenes) "To produce our Merchant Boat, we were really pleased to be able to use as reference the remains of the very well preserved “Kyrenia Ship” found in 1965. Having this boat replicated with the highest historic fidelity helped us to give life to our beautiful world and to show that there was not only war ships sailing in the great ancient Greek Sea." - David Therrien
Eurystheas asked Herakles to bring him the belt of Hippolyta for the ninth labor; it would be offered to his daughter Admete. The belt was a gift from the god Ares to his daughter Hippolyta, the queen of Amazons - a tribe of women-warriors. With a group of companions, Herakles reached Themiskyra, the city in the Black Sea were Hippolyta lived, and convinced the Amazon to give him the belt. However, Hera had spread rumors amongst the Amazons, so they attacked him. Herakles had no choice but to kill Hippolyta. He then brought the belt back to Eurystheas.
Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was born from salty sea foam, and that is why she is sometimes called Haligeneous ("salt-born"). The myth tells us that this foam came from the genitals of Ouranos (the sky). They fell near the island of Kythera, and this is where and how Aphrodite was born. As you can see, salt and Aphrodite go together. Salt was associated with fertility and reproduction. For instance, Plutarch wrote in his Symposiakon that “salt encourages remarkably generation”, reshaping Aristotle's notes in the “History of Animals” that “if they merely lick salt, mice get pregnant”. Aphrodite is sometimes shown holding a small salt bag in her hand, and those who attended the Aphrodisia - the sacred festivals of Aphrodite - were required to bring and carry a salt bag to honor the salt-born goddess.
Different types of murex secrete different types of purple. The purple is influenced by the chemical composition of their sacs, but also their sex and size. Sunlight, temperature, humidity and salinity can also influence the color's brightness, tone, and intensity. Dyers could obtain a greater variety of color shades by mixing different types of shellfish, controlling the fermentation process, or adding other ingredients such as honey or flour.
Kythera is the name of an island as well as a city. The strategic position of the island - just south of the Peloponnese - made it a target for the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. Athens occupied it during most of the war and used it to support trade and to raid Lakonia. Kythera's banner was inspired by its coinage. Both featured the dove, which is sacred to Aphrodite, who had a sanctuary in Kythera. According to mythology, this island was the goddess's birthplace.
Compared to Athens, Sparta has been subjected to far less archaeological work, and its akropolis and agora have not yet been excavated. As a result, it's difficult to put together a complete picture of ancient Sparta. The Athenian general and historian Thucydides gives the earliest description of Sparta, but it is Pausanias's visit to the city in the 2nd century CE that provides most of the knowledge we have today. The original layout of Sparta is difficult to map because in Thucydides's time, the city did not have any defensive walls. This is partially because Spartans viewed fortifications as frivolous, expensive, and unnecessary - they felt their men could do a better job defending the city than any walls could.
In one of the Athenian general Thucydides's historical writings, he described a debate between the Spartan king Archidamos and one of Sparta's ephors over whether or not the city should engage Athens and the Delian League in what would later become the Peloponnesian War. Surprisingly, Archidamos argued for a more cautious approach, stating that their enemies were numerous, well-funded, and more skilled when it came to naval engagements. He believed that Sparta should not be so hasty in picking a fight until it was more prepared. The ephor, meanwhile, appealed to the city's honor, and said that the only response worthy of strong Spartans was to vote for war. Despite being the king, Archidamos's efforts to postpone the war were eventually overruled.
Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and Apollo's twin sister. A virgin and a huntress, she was one of the most important Olympian deities, and presided over crucial aspects of life: girls' transition to womanhood, childbirth, the rearing of children, but also Spartan boys” rites of transition to manhood, and certain aspects of war. She was most commonly depicted with a bow and arrow, and associated with deer. Artemis had several cults in Sparta, and the most important of them was Artemis Orthia. This cult was closely associated to the Spartan education system, the agoge. Many dedications to Eileithyia - the goddess associated with good deliveries - were found in the sanctuary, showing the two deities' roles were closely related.
Dionysos was the Greek god associated with wine, ritual madness, and theater. This temple was set on a hill opposite the Spartan Akropolis. The site was called Kotona [“the hill”), which gave the god his epithet Kolonatas. The temple seems to have been a place of worship for women. When approaching adulthood, girls may have been initiated into the mysteries of Dionysos linked to this temple. During the god's annual feast, Pausanias tells of a footrace involving eleven girls, the “Dionysiades”; this custom would have come from Delphi.
According to Pausanias, the Dromos was used as a place for footraces, and contained gymnasia as well. It was open to Sparta's citizens, who could also offer sacrifices on the nearby statue of Herakles.
(Behind the scenes) The Spartan army encampment in Megaris sprawls across the landscape. Tents house weary soldiers, shields and spears neatly arranged, to be quickly grabbed if the Athenians should attack. These camps are a maze of tents and low buildings, temples and houses overtaken by war and generals, and are always well guarded. “The layout of the locations needs to feel credible as though it could be lived in and at the same time needs to fit within the game metrics of fight and stealth,” explains world director, Benjamin Hall. “Anywhere in the world where the player finds themselves against enemies are designed to be a homogeneous blend between art and design.”
Kastor and Pollux, the Dioskouroi, were divine twins, sons of Zeus and Leda, and brothers of Helen and Klytemnestra. One of them human and the other divine, they were linked to Sparta, as myth stated they were born on Mount Taygetos. The Dioskouroi were the protectors of the Spartan kings, and took turns in their royal duty. They helped the Spartans in battle, and they were associated with horsemanship as well as with athletic contests. In art, they were often represented with their sister Helen. An important number of marble reliefs of the Dioskouroi have been found in excavations of the Spartan area, and are now kept in the Sparta Museum.
Four Spartan kings played important roles in the Peloponnesian War: Archidamos II, his elder son Agis II, Pleistoanax, and his son Pausanias. In 464 BCE, Archidamos Il managed to quell a helot revolt following an earthquake that shook the city to its core. A few years later in 445 BCE, his double in kingship, Pleistoanax, was exiled for presumably taking a bribe from the Athenian statesman Perikles - someone Archidamos had previously been on friendly terms with. During the first part of the Peloponnesian War, which was named the Archidamian War after Archidamos, the king marched against Attika in 431 BCE, 430 BCE, and 428 BCE. He was succeeded by his son Agis Ilin 427/6 BCE, who was appointed a guardian because of his young of age. Agis did not manage to invade Attika, but together with Pleistoanax, who had returned from exile, they signed a treaty with the Athenians in 421 BCE known as the Peace of Nikias. During the third part of the war, it was Agis's decision to occupy Dekeleia and control Athens's countryside, as well as access to the Laurion mines. This move was crucial, because Athens lost the possibility to mint coins with Laurion silver, restricting the city's ability to finance the war and pay for mercenaries and contributing to Athens's eventual surrender in 404 BCE. Pausanias, meanwhile, was the king of Sparta who laid siege to Athens in collaboration with the admiral Lysander, which culminated in Sparta's decisive victory in Aigos Potamoi in 405 BCE.
The mothakes are one of the less well-known classes of Ancient Spartan society. Most of what is known of them is the stuff of hypotheses and theories: they were either illegitimate children of Spartan fathers and helot or períoikoi mothers, orphans whose training was sponsored by guardians, or poor people whose training was paid for by wealthier Spartan families. Mothakes accompanied Spartan boys in the agoge as their companions, or syntrophoi. Though they did not share the same rights as citizens, they could eventually join the Spartan elite if they completed their training, or if their patron bought them a unit of land known as a kleros. Fulfilling these conditions granted them citizenship, and allowed them to join the Spartan military. Written sources attest that some mothakes, such as Gylippos, became accomplished military leaders during the Peloponnesian War. In fact, it's been suggested that Lysander, the famous Spartan admiral instrumental in winning the aforementioned war, was a mothax as well.
The Lakedaimonian army was not exclusively made up of official Spartan citizens. The army was composed of all male Lakedaimonians aged twenty to sixty [and occasionally even older], regardless of social class. Because of this, Helots and Perioikoi often fought alongside Spartan homoioi (citizens).
The períoikoi were indigenous non-Spartan freemen who lived in the periphery of Sparta, but did not have political rights. They formed autonomous communities and developed local economies because, unlike the Spartans, they engaged in commerce and manufacturing. In other words, while Spartans concentrated on war, the períoikoi focused on everything else. They could be carpenters, merchants, farmers, and fishermen, among many other professions. Their dependency on Sparta did now allow them to develop a proper economy, but at the same time they aided the Spartans by allowing them to concentrate on military matters. It is also believed that the períoikoi procured of the metals and crafted the arms the Spartans used in battle.
When Pausanias visited Sparta's agora, he described the imposing Persian Stoa, a structure built to commemorate the Greeks' decisive victory over the Persians in the Greco-Persian Wars: “The most prominent building in the market place is the Persian Stoa, so called because it was built from the spoils of the Medes. In time they embellished it to the size and ornamentation which It now has. The columns are Persians of white stone, Mardonios son of Gobryas and others.”
(Behind the scenes) “A dedicated river tool has been developed in order to render believable river layouts in a Greek mountainous landscape. Here is an in-game image of a spring river.” - Vincent Lamontagne, assistant art director and lead biome artist.
The Spartan banner bears the letter “lambda”, standing for Lakedaimon, the other name of Sparta. On their coins, the initials were lambda and alpha: “LA”. This emblem is inspired by Spartan shields bearing the lambda. While there's no archaeological evidence of these shields' decoration, they're known from textual evidence. A fragment of a comedy by Eupolis tells that the sight alone of the lambdas on Spartans' shields was enough to frighten Kleon. On other occasions, shields were decorated by varied iconographies, as shown on numerous vases depicting warriors.
(Behind the scenes) Fearsome and formidable, these warriors are unmatched throughout Greece and the known world. These character studies by artist Fred Rambaud show the different types of warriors the Hero will encounter in Sparta, from the heavily armored brute, to the more nimble, spear-wielding fighter, and the brawler, replete in gold armor and a heavy ram's- head hammer.
(Behind the scenes) Storyboards are crucial to mapping out a sequence of events. These storyboards by Miguel Bouchard show the Hero's family sharing some dramatic moments at the top of the treacherous Mount Taygetos. This storyboard demonstrates the terrible decision made by Nikolaos.
The Akropolis of Sparta consisted of several buildings that date from different chronological periods - from the Archaic to the Byzantine era. At the top of the Akropolis was the sanctuary of Athena Chalkioikos, dated to the óth century BCE. It was originally a sanctuary of Pitane, as confirmed by archaeological discoveries dating as early as the Mycenaean period. Near the sanctuary of Athena was the ancient theater of Sparta. The theater seen in-game is based on a structure dated to the Roman period. The theater probably had a wooden stage; a fact supported by several inscriptions from the 2nd century CE. Excavations next to the theater also revealed connected shops. The Akropolis of Sparta also held visible traces of the Skias, the semi-circular building of the archaic-classical periods - but with visible repairs from the Roman period.
According to Pausanias, the two most important Spartan temples were the temple of Artemis Orthia, and the temple of Athena Chalkioikos. Pausanias describes the building of the sanctuary of Athena Chalkioikos in great detail. It was Located on the Akropolis of Sparta, west of the agora. Its construction was started by the mythical king of Sparta, Tyndareos, but was completed by the Spartan sculptor Gitiadas in the 6th century BCE. The epithet Chalkioikos [house from bronze] was attached to this temple due to the bronze and copper decorations on its walls. These embossed sheets depicted mythological scenes like Herakles's labors, achievements of the sons of Tyndareos, the Legend of Perseus and Medusa, and the birth of Athena. The bronze decorations and the bronze statue of Athena were the works of Gitiadas, who also composed a hymn to the goddess.
According to many ancient authors, Spartan women were an exception among other Greek women; authors from Athens were both fascinated and afraid of these figures, and presented them as both powerful and licentious.
In the warfare state of Sparta, girls were educated with a eugenic perspective to become the future wives and mothers of warriors. According to Queen Gorgo, they were the only Greek women who gave birth to real men, and were the only ones who “commanded to men”. This famous sentence showed the authority of Spartan women in their city.
In addition to the desire for strength, gymnastics and sports were also emphasized in education to make the young women attractive enough to marry. This included being well-versed in music, dancing, singing, and poetry. Spartan women dedicated themselves to intensive physical exercise and led very different lives from their Athenian counterparts. They were more autonomous, and more free than many Greek women of ancient times.They also may have trained themselves to wrestle. One purpose of this training could've been for the defense of the city and of their children in the event of an attack on Spartan territory.
Salt harvesting was known to humankind at least from the Neolithic age, on account of the considerable quantities of fragmented ceramic molds accumulated around salt springs. There were two main ways of collecting salt. The first one was to simply harvest it where it was accessible - that is, near salt lakes, marshes, or near the sea. Pans were used to let collected water evaporate in the sun and then harvest the resulting salt. The other method was extracting it from the earth. This was - difficult in mainland Greece since the soil did not provide much yield in this fashion. Collecting salt from water was therefore the more utilized method. We know for sure that salt played a role in magic. For example, eating salty cakes on a special day was thought to allow young girls to dream of their future husbands. It was also used in some religious practices. Even in Homeric times, salt was offered to the gods and used when sacrificing animals and making libations. Furthermore, salt played an important part in some Greek festivals - such as the Eleusinian Mysteries, celebrated in the town of Eleusis in Attika to honor Demeter, the goddess of the crops, and her daughter, Persephone.
The banner of Lokris shows a griffin - a mythological creature with the body, legs, and tail of a lion, and the head and wings of an eagle. The griffin is inspired by the Lokris Opuntii coinage which depicted Ajax, the Lokrian hero of the Trojan War. His shield bore a griffin on the interior side. Griffins were known for guarding treasure - especially if it belonged to the gods - and were a symbol of strength and vigilance.
Makedonia's banner features the head of a horse. In northern Greece—especially in Thessaly and Makedonia—horse breeding was an important activity and a major source of wealth. When Makedonia increased its power under King Phillip II—the father of Alexander the Great—horses played a crucial role in the army. Companion cavalry, the elite cavalry of the Makedonians, has been regarded as the best of the ancient world. The inspiration of the banner came from a coin from Pharsalos in Thessaly depicting an artistic-rendering of a horse's head. Horses are very common in iconography, especially in coinage.
The Peloponnesian War began over two main stories. One is the Athenians having entered into conflict with an ally of Sparta, the great city of Korinth, which had tried to take over one of Athens' allies, the city of Potidaia. The other is the so-called "Megarian decree" which was passed by Athens in order to forbid all trade between Megaris and the Athenian empire. As a result, the Spartans called for a great congress in Sparta where they conferred with their allies. The Megarians were pushing towards war, since they were greatly affected by the decree, and so were the Korinthians. The king of Sparta, Archidamos II, advised for a more cautious policy, trying to prevent the outbreak of the war, or at least to make sure that Sparta was better prepared to face the Athenians who ruled the seas in an open confrontation. The war that would ensue pit two essentially different powers and styles of warfare against each other. Sparta and their allies were based mainly in the Peloponnese, and their force consisted especially of land armies of hoplites—the only maritime power of this League was Korinth. The Athenians, on the other hand, had become a maritime power during the struggle against Persia, and remained so in the aftermath.
In providing for their fleet and for the public building program, the main problem the Athenians faced was finding timber of first-class quality, and particularly timber of long lengths. From the late 5th century BCE at least, and throughout the 4th century BCE, there is ample evidence that Athens relied primarily on Makedonia for her ship-timber. As for the timber needed for housing, the rich, who were more concerned with quality, possibly preferred the greater variety and finer quality materials available from Makedonia, Italy, or Ásia Minor. In addition, what Attika was unabl
The eighth labor of Herakles was to bring back the mares of Diomedes. Diomedes, the king of Thrace and son of Ares and Cyrene, fed his horses human flesh. This drove the horses mad, making them wild. Herakles captured the beasts with the help of his young companion Abderos, and left the horses with him while he chased down Diomedes. In Herakles's absence, the crazed horses ate the young boy. Seeking revenge, Herakles then fed Diomedes to the horses, and founded the city of Abdera nearby in his friend's honor. When Eurystheas received the horses, he dedicated them to Hera.
In the Classical era, metal armor coexisted alongside lighter cuirasses (corselets) called “linothoraxes”. This was because procuring an actual set of bronze armor was beyond the means of many citizens - especially in poorer cities. Linothoraxes were also sometimes preferred in situations where hoplites had to be Lighter and more mobile. The linothorax consisted of a linen breastplate that could be strengthened with shoulder pieces, bronze scales, or bronze-sheeted mantling. To protect the Lower abdomen and the groin, two layers of pteruges - “wings” in ancient Greek — were attached to the bottom edge of the armor. Linen armor was one of the oldest types of armor in Greece. It even appears in “The Iliad" - a story that is believed to have taken place long before the Classical period.
If a hoplite's spear broke or if he had to fight hand to hand - as was the case for the 300 Spartans in the final stages of the battle of Thermopylai - he could always fall back on his sword. In the 4th century BCE, the most common sword had a thick cruciform hilt with a blade that swelled near the tip. Hoplites carried their sword in a sheath under their Left arm, enabling them to quickly seize their weapon with their right hand. Ancient Greeks had specific names to refer to different types of swords, but it's difficult for modern historians to match these names with their corresponding weapon. While “xiphos” was the standard name for swords in ancient Greek, words like “machaira” and “kopis" were also used. It is believed that the previous two words may have referred to recurved swords, while xiphos described straight-bladed weapons.
A hoplite's equipment consisted of a bronze cuirass (or lighter armor], bronze greaves, a spear, and a sword. Although the comic playwright Aristophanes was probably exaggerating when he wrote that crafted armor cost 1,000 drachmae - about ten times the monthly wages of a skilled craftsman - the bronze-muscle cuirass was one of the costliest pieces of a hoplite's equipment. As such, only the wealthiest individuals could afford it. A soldier's body armor could be completed by a pair of greaves to protect their shins. The greaves were made of hammered bronze, and had to be well-adjusted to the hoplite's legs. They also had to be made thin so as not to weigh the soldier down. Since shin greaves were also expensive, many lower-class citizens opted not to buy them, instead purchasing armor that covered more vital parts of their body. Altogether, an entire set of armor was known as a “panoply”.
Hoplites were heavily armored infantrymen. Their most important piece of equipment was arguably the “aspis”, a round shield large enough to protect both its wearer and the man to the left of him. The aspis was light and could effectively parry spear and sword thrusts. However, according to its depiction on ancient vases, it was ineffective against javelins and arrows. Hoplite helmets were similarly designed to be light, but they could endure direct blows and offered a reasonable amount of protection. There were many varieties of helmet, but the most widespread seems to have been the Korinthian helmet. Made of a single sheet of bronze that covered much of the head and neck, the Korinthian helmet offered only a small, t-shaped opening at the front to allow soldiers to see and breathe. Because the helmet was closed in on itself, it most likely impaired the sight and hearing of the soldiers who wore it. Helmets could also be adorned with crests of dyed horsehair to make the hoplites wearing them look more imposing.
Hoplites mainly fought using spears. Called “dory” in ancient Greek, the spear was a wooden shaft with a Length of up to three meters. It was probably made from the wood of ash trees, since the trees provided strong material that was also light enough to be handled with ease. The spear-head and butt were manufactured in metal workshops. The spear-head was usually made of iron - but could also be made of bronze - and was fixed to the slender end of the wooden shaft with pitch or nails. The spear-butt allowed the weapon to be planted in the ground when not being used. It's possible that the spear-butt could also have served as a spare head, but there's little evidence to support this theory. The spear also had a hand grip which may have been made of leather.
Upon the arrival of the Persians, the terrified Delphians consulted the Oracle of Apollo. They were told to address their prayers to the winds, as they would be Greece's most powerful ally in the coming conflict; Xerxes campaign did indeed rely heavily on coordination between land and sea forces advancing in unison. During the Battle of Thermopylai, a storm cost the Persian sea armada many of its ships—over four hundred vessels were destroyed. In calm weather, these ships would likely have forced the Greeks to fight in a tactical retreat, letting Xerxes land troops south of Leonidas' position and bypass Thermopylai entirely. The cooperation of the winds led the Athenians to later construct a temple in honor of Boreas, the wind god.
The Greeks had always distinguished Europe—where they had settled—from Asia. They reckoned it began with the far side of the Aegean Sea and extended well beyond to Persia and India. But, beyond pure geography, the Persian invasion gave a political significance to the distinction between Asia and Europe. Herodotos writes of two worlds: Asia, dominated by the Persian Empire, and Europe, by which he actually means the Greek world. This is particularly notable at the time of the passage of the Dardanelles by the Persian army. While Greece is still a few hundreds of kilometers away, Herodotos quotes Xerxes as saying: "Let us enter into Europe after having prayed to the gods who reign over the land of the Persians". He passes radically from one world to another, from one civilization to the other. Texts describe Asia as a "barbarous country", but we must be careful that the word does not have the meaning of today; it simply means that the spoken language is incomprehensible to the Greeks, without implying a judgement of value.
In "The Iliad", Homer describes the struggles that broke out between friends and foes over who would lay claim to the remains of a fallen warrior. The death of Leonidas at Thermopylai prompted such a fight. Herodotos, who knew "The Iliad" well, was no doubt aware that he was repeating a well-known trope. He says that two sons of Darius fell in fighting over Leonidas' corpse, and that a melee ensued between the Spartans and Persians. Leonidas' conduct at Thermopylai is comparable to the Homeric heroes of legend, as it's often suggested that this conflict is as important as the Trojan War itself.
The Greco-Persian Wars incited the Greek Herotodos from Asia Minor to write the first works of a new literary genre: history. At the beginning of his book, Herodotos writes, "Herodotos exposes here his research, so that what men have accomplished does not fade from memory, those great and wonderful exploits accomplished by both Barbarians and Greeks". The word "research" was previously used only in medicine to describe the search for the causes of a disease. It then came to designate a new intellectual construction, history, in the current sense of the word, highlighting the need for rigor and objectivity. Since the 5th century BCE, it's thanks to the Histories of Herodotos that we're able to understand the deeds of Sparta at Thermopylai.
Xerxes went to spectacular lengths to ensure the passage of his army from Asia Minor into Greece. For example, he made a bridge of boats to cross the straits of Dardanelles, twelve kilometers long. This bridge was barely finished when a storm destroyed it. Furious, Xerxes ordered that the sea be punished with three hundred lashes, and the chains be thrown to the bottom of the ocean to better restrain it. Xerxes also dug a canal at the entrance of the eastern peninsula of Athos, which has a height of more than 2,000 meters, can prove extremely dangerous in the event of a storm, as shown by the catastrophe that struck a Persian fleet in 492 BCE. Xerxes had a channel of some two kilometers long constructed, using "detachments of all the peoples of the army, and by the inhabitants of the region, who dug under the threat of the whip". Herodotos saw it as a manifestation of pride more than a work of public utility. It would've sufficed, he says, to build a kind of wooden rail on which the vessels would have been drawn, as was done for the Isthmus of Korinth.
This banner is inspired by the coins from Halikarnassos. Bandits and pirates have been associated with a ketos—a sea monster associated with Poseidon—which is often depicted on their coins from 500-495 BCE. Bandits and piracy were a harsh realities (sic) in antiquity—so much so, that it wasn't unheard of to be killed or enslaved by them. A ketos looks like a serpent fish with a dragon head. When he needed to send punishment, Poseidon would unleash a ketos. He sent one to Troy to punish King Laomedon, and sent another attack Ethiopia to punish King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. However, the latter ketos was killed by Perseus when he rescued Andromeda.
The region of Megaris is the link between central Greece and the Peloponnese, located on the Isthmus of Korinth. The area was well-suited for agriculture and animal husbandry. The name of the city derived from "megarizein", the appellation of a ritual in honor of Demeter and Kore where piglets and other offerings were thrown into ground cavities (megara). Pigs and boars were often depicted on coins, and one coin of Lyttos in Krete was chosen as the model for the banner. Pigs served as both food and sacrifices, but on some occasions they were used in war. When Megara was besieged by the Makedonian King Antigonos Gonatas, the Megarians sent burning pigs to defeat his elephants.
The area of Messara is the largest plain of the island of Krete. The symbol of the region is inspired by the coins of Knossos, which bear a labyrinth on the reverse, referencing the famous Kretan Minotaur myth. The minotaur was half-human, half-bull. King Minos of Krete made the mistake of sacrificing a bull, and thus angered Poseidon. The god then instilled “passion” for the bull into Minos' wife, who later gave birth to the minotaur. The minotaur was kept in the labyrinth built by Daidalos. On a regular basis, fourteen young men and women were given to the beast in tribute, until the hero Theseus killed him.
The seventh labor of Herakles was to kill a great bull that had destroyed crops and property in Krete. Herakles went to King Minos of Krete, who gave him permission to get rid of the bull. Herakles managed to capture the beast, suppressing it with his hands, but he ultimately didn't kill it. Instead, he shipped the bull to Eurystheas so he could confirm that the labor was successful, and then the animal was released.
Koulourai are large, stone-walled pits that can be found in a number of major sites in Krete, including Knossos, Malia, and Phaistos. All of them were constructed around 1850-1750 BCE. While the exact purpose of the koulourai is still debated, there are three prominent theories as to what they were used for. Arthur Evans believed they functioned as refuse or garbage pits. Conversely, Chapouthier and Pernier theorized that they were used as ancient cisterns. However, this theory is flawed since kouroulai did not have the same waterproofing as other Knossian structures of the time. The most widely accepted theory is that koulourai were used to store grain. This assumption gains even more ground when paired with the theory that Minoan palaces were not palaces at all, but massive agricultural redistribution centers.
In the "History of Animals” by Aristotle, he provides a guide to the species present in the Mediterranean: 105 fish, twenty-four shells, twenty-four marine or crustacean animals, and five cetaceans and amphibious animals. Philosophers and moralists had little regard for fishermen. Plato deemed the activity unworthy of a well-born man. But there was solidarity between sailors, and the specificity of the trade was important enough to even become a Literary theme; it's known that Aischylos had written a piece entitled “Diktyoulkoi” (Net-Haulers), and Menander wrote a piece called “The Fishermen”. These authors were much more interested in the psychology of the fisherman than the real sociology of the profession. A fisherman is often alone, practicing his profession all year long. He has to be intelligent and cunning, but he also must be lucky.
Navigation on the Mediterranean was difficult. Most sailing depended on the winds, and was done in the summer. The storm season started in late September or early October, and ended in late February or early March. During these months, navigation was highly dangerous. In addition, the nature of the currents made certain areas dangerous. The sea monsters Charybdis and Skylla in “The Odyssey” would be the pictorial representation of the strong current of the Strait of Messina that separates the western tip of the south of Magna Graecia with Sicily. There were several methods of fishing in ancient Greece. Plato and Oppian discussed fishing with nets, laces, baskets, hooks or tridents, and angling. t was also possible to fish for mollusks, shellfish, crustaceans, and fish thrown from the sea to the shores. In some cases, the fish was caught by hand, like in octopus fishing. Fishing could also be done with lanterns - as fish were attracted to the light source - or could simply be “picked" during sleep. There were also more unusual methods, such as the smell fishery where fish were attracted with foul food, excrement, or salted octopus. There was also the method of “poisoning fishing”, where plants like hellebore or conia were used to catch fish and octopus.
(Behind the scenes) The seventh biome of the game, the Hero explores the underwater world of the Aegen Sea looking for treasure and artifacts. The sea teems with all manner of life including dangerous sharks and beautiful corals. “By exploring the depths of the ocean the player can choose to take a dive amongst long forgotten ruins. Here they can take on fights with deadly sharks as they search for hidden treasures,” adds Benjamin Hall. Featuring shipwrecks, ruins and remnants of ancient civilizations as shown in these concept arts by Hugo Puzzuoli, this biome is just as diverse and intricate as the rest.
Charcoal is the solid residue that remains when wood - or other organic matter - is “carbonized” under controlled conditions in a closed space. Very Little air is allowed to come into contact with the fuel during the carbonization process. If this condition is not observed, the wood (or other raw material) is simply reduced to ash and its fuel value is lost. This means that transport costs are much lower for locally produced charcoal than for Locally gathered wood - an important consideration for a product whose production cost consists almost exclusively of the labor invested in it. It's also noteworthy that charcoal creates a much hotter, more even, and more easily controlled heat than wood, which means that itis much better suited for domestic cooking and grilling and a virtual “sine qua non” for blacksmithing and particularly ironworking.
Messenia's history was linked closely with Sparta's. The region was long-occupied by the Spartans - its population was enslaved as helots. Independent cities emerged only after the Theban invasion of the Peloponnese in the 4th century BCE. After the defeat of the Spartan army at the battle of Leuktra in 371 BCE, the helots of Messenia revolted against Sparta. Epaminondas, the Theban general, supported the building of the fortified city of Messene. The banner of Messenia is inspired by the coins of Messene, showing Zeus brandishing his thunderbolt. Zeus had an important sanctuary on Mount Ithome, which was included in the walls of Messene.
(Behind the scenes) Waging war in the ocean was a brutal affair in Ancient Greece, The ships, mostly triremes, were simply designed and unstable, especially in high seas and adverse weather. The development team looked at historical accounts of naval warfare from the period to recreate the drama and danger in game. Blue-clad Athenians have their ship cleaved in two in concept art by Hugo Puzzuoli.
Thucydides was an Athenian aristocrat, general, and historian who chronicled the history of the Peloponnesian War. While he does not mention his predecessor Herodotos directly, it is probable that Thucydides was influenced by the so-called “Father of History”. Thucydides's account of history, however, focused less on the mythic origins of the Greeks, and instead provided a perspective on how much the Greek world had evolved since its beginning - and how much it would continue to evolve into the future. His work also provided insight into the educational and cultural development of Athens. Thucydides was a skilled orator trained by some of the best speakers of his time. Because of this, many of the most important moments in his historical writings are presented as speeches.
Several Greek authors have left us works on siege tactics or on how to build war machines. However, artillery such as catapults were not yet invented at the time of the Peloponnesian War - it would take another century for them to appear. The main war machines used at this time, called mechanai, were mostly scaling-ladders, battering rams, and tortoises. There are two known instances of incendiary machines, but we don't know exactly how they worked. The Thebans used one against the Athenians at Delium in 424 BCE, and the Spartans at Torone in 423 BCE.
Woodcutting and charcoal making typically took place in the forest. Charcoals were then bagged and transported to private homes or presumably nearby markets. In wood-rich areas, local production of wood for common use appears to have been either in the hands of individuais, or potentially middlemen who might collect wood from various sources, then reselLit at the local agora. The elite's access to such wood may have been outside the market if their landholdings provided suitable material), except for the purchase of exotic materials. The full range of woodworking tools and techniques employed by wood workers of the ancient Mediterranean and the practical knowledge concerning wood species and their most valuable applications attest to the importance of wood technologies for agriculture and hunting, domestic life, trade, warfare, and leisure activities. It is worth mentioning that the tools and the techniques employed by the end of the Classical and Roman period would show little change until the appearance of the Industrial Revolution fifteen centuries later.
The ancients often made bees and honey into symbols related to the deities. Honey was considered heavenly since it never expired, and was a typical offering placed on altars for the gods. These offerings were given to rustic deities such as Pan and Priape, who were protectors of beekeepers, but also to Chthonian deities worshiped in mystery cults such as Hermes, Dionysos, and Demeter. Honey and bees were also a symbol of resurrection. Honey was considered a gift - a remnant of the Golden Age - that the gods kindly gave to men. It guaranteed long life and good health. In this way, it was connected to nectar and ambrosia - drinks of the immortal gods. In childhood, Zeus was nourished with honey and milk. Mead was seen as a substitute for these divine drinks. Honey's religious symbolism was all the more important since it could be food for newborns - a young Plato was said to be fed with honey - but also for the dead.
Naxos was the largest island in the Kyklades. lts protective deity was Dionysos, god of wine, who was born on the island according to mythology. The money of Naxos served as model for the banner, and is linked with the god as the coins show a kantharos - a wine cup. Naxos produced wine, but was more famous for its marble. It was exported and widely used. For example, it was used in Olympia and on the Akropolis in Athens. Its craftsmen were pioneers in the development of monumental marble sculptures and architecture.
Greek soil contains great geological diversity. Since the beginning of the Early Cycladic period, the Greeks used marble in architecture, sculpture, figurines, and more. The word marble, from the Greek term marmaros, means “resplendent stone”. It quickly became a luxury furniture in Greek cities, and it played a big part in the Greek economy. Some regions stand out for their marble-related wealth, including Naxos, Paros, Thasos, Attika, the Peloponnese, and Euboea Island. Marble is made up of different colors (red, pink, yellow), and each has a different texture (translucent, wavy, streaked, swirly, etc.). For example, Peloponnesian marble was red with touches of black. Pentelic marble, found near Athens, was greenish with a grainy pattern. The most prestigious marble of the time came from Paros, and was greyish white.
In Naxos, ancient quarries were located on the Ágios loannis hill on the north side of the island, with another one in the central region, Melanes. In general, the quarrymen exploited natural fissures and applied pressure to extract massive blocks. They then drilled holes into the marble, drove wooden shafts into the holes, and poured water over the wood so it swelled and split off the desired blocks of stone. In Naxos, whiter parts of the stone were preferred during the quarrying process, which had a direct impact on the price of this marble. Around 5000 m3 of the most prestigious Naxian marble was exported annually. The workers carried the marble with cranes and rails. They moved it around with pullies, cranes, levers, rails, and inclined planes.
The banner of Melos is derived from a coin of the city, depicting the symbol of the triskeles; the name of this symbol literally means "three legs". It was sometimes used on coins, but more often on shields. The larger meaning of this symbol is not clear, but an ancient epigram speaks of a triskeles on a shield that is supposed to frighten opponents—the bearer of this shield supposedly ran very fast. This symbol is still in use today on the Sicilian flag, and that of the Isle of Man.
The eleventh and twelfth labors of Herakles were tacked on at the end, since Eurystheas didn't recognize Herakles killing the Hydra as a labor because Iolaos helped him. Cleaning the stables was also ignored because Herakles was paid, and it was the rivers that did the actual cleaning work. The eleventh labor required Herakles to steal apples from the garden of the Hesperides, the three nymphs of the evening. The garden was situated in the west of the world, in Northern Africa, and produced golden apples. There, Herakles tricked Atlas into retrieving the apples for him. Although he proposed to hold up the heavens for a while in Atlas' stead, Herakles tricked the Titan and walked away with the fruit himself.
The source material concerning weapon manufacturing in Ancient Greece is not prolific. However, we do know that as early as the 7th century BCE, more specialized-production centers emerged in regions already known for their metallurgical activities. Chalkis, in Euboea, specialized in the production of swords, while Korinth was renowned for its bronze helmets - both crucially important elements of hoplite equipment. Sykyon, in the Peloponnese peninsula, provided the iron for the manufacture of Spartan weapons. Athens, famous especially for its cuirass workshops, was also an important location in the world of Greek weapons production. During what's called the “Dark Ages” in Greek history [1200-800 BCE), a transition took place in weaponry. The material used switched from bronze to iron - a substance that was lighter, tougher, and able to take a sharper edge. Swords became shorter and larger than the preceding bronze specimens. Both conical helmets with ornamented crests and all shapes of shields may have also been made of that metal. Around the 7th century BCE, a new tactical formation, the phalanx, gradually made its appearance in Greece. It marked the return of the use of bronze in weaponry. The new infantryman, the hoplite, was required to pay for his panoply, a set of weapons and pieces of equipment including a cuirass, greaves, helmet with cheek plates, shield, spear, and sword. Bronze was used to make all or some parts of the body armor, shield, and helmet, while the sword and spearhead were crafted with iron. The costliness of the panoply made it difficult or altogether impossible for lower-class citizens to purchase one. Therefore, only members of the elite could afford the entire set.
The banner of Lesbos, home of the famous poet Sappho, was inspired by one of the most interesting monetary types in antiquity. Unlike others cities, Lesbos changed monetary types from one issuance to another. This provided great variety - notably this unusual depiction of two female heads overlapping. Lesbos's cities were members of the Delian league from the start. They provided ships to the alliance, but then revolted in 428 BCE and the victorious Athenians sent clerouchs (settlers) to occupy the island.
Field camps were built at the end of a day's march to provide protection in case of a surprise enemy attack. They were widely-used when attacking cities during sieges. The camps are where soldiers would eat, sleep, and store their weapons, food rations and spoils - often for months at a time. It's also where a soldier would take refuge when and if things went badly in battle. Building a good fortified camp or fortifying a village or small city in the enemy's territory may have meant the difference between victory and defeat. As sieges would stretch on, a good fortified camp meant that an army could safely remain in unfriendly lands and exert pressure on the enemy. This could be done by burning or taking their crops, by preventing resupply, or simply by exerting their demoralizing presence. Establishing a fortified position in enemy lands in order to constantly raid it was a common tactic in the Peloponnesian War. Athens employed it at Pylos from 425 to 409 BCE, and so did the Spartans with a more devastating effect over a weakened Athens when they fortified Dekeleia from 413 to 404 BCE.
Soldiers on the move mostly slept under the sky on beds of reeds, for in most cases tent materials were too great a burden. They ate two meals a day - one at mid-day [except when battle was expected), and then dinner. They usually cooked these meatls themselves. In most cases, the meal consisted of maza, a sort of barley porridge. The Spartans did things differently; they had dedicated cooks in their armies. When the soldiers need to relieve themselves, they simply went wherever they could outside of camp, as there was no special location for this act. There was little in the way of entertainment in military camps. The Spartans, however, did have some techniques for avoiding boredom. After their regular practice and exercise, they had a sort of contest of singing songs by the poet Tyrtaios, and the winner received a prize in meat. Even in a war camp, the gods had to be honored. Whenever possible, sacrifices were made and seers were consulted, often about the tides of battle.
(Behind the scenes) Lesbos is an island situated in the north-east of the Aegean Sea. Lesbos rebelled against the Athenians, leading to its eventual surrender to Athens. Lesbos is notable in real life for its 18-million-year-old petrified forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to fossilized remains of a once vast swathe of vegetation and forest. The art team used their artistic license to grow the trees into dense forests of tangled roots and branches, a maze for our hero to navigate. The atmosphere of the forest is oppressive, with temple ruins appearing from the murky background, and a sense of dread lingering behind every corner. Finished concepts by Hugo Puzzuoli show the red and yellow accents in the rock of the petrified trees, caused by intense volcanic activity millions of years ago.
The Medusa has been portrayed in many different ways over the years, from a beautiful young woman, to a monstrous creature with a serpent's body and tail. The art team decided to move away from these depictions, concentrating on the details of her appearance. The snakes are based on actual Greek species found on the islands and mainland Greece. Her dress is made from targe swathes of snake skin, suggesting even bigger serpents once existed. “Medusa is represented in her Greek form, as a humanoid woman, rather than in the Roman version that would follow," explains art director Thierry Dansereau. She is, after all, a woman transformed by an ancient artifact, rather than the will of the gods.
Perseus was the Greek hero who ultimately killed Medusa. He was the son of Zeus and Danai, and he promised to obtain the head of Medusa to King Polydektes. Medusa was a gorgon, a female monster that had living snakes on her head instead of locks of hair. Her gaze petrified all who locked eyes with her, and turned them to stone. Perseus went to the Hesperides to acquire the weapon that would help him defeat Medusa. They also gave him a sack to hold her head (kibisis). He received a sword [harpe) from Zeus, winged sandals from Hermes, a shiny shield from Athena, and the ability to hide from Hades. When Perseus entered Medusa's cave, he used the shield's reflection to avoid eye contact, and successfully decapitated her. Perseus used the head of Medusa as a weapon, but later gave it as a gift to Athena, who placed the head of the gorgon (gorgoneion) on her shield, or the Aegis.
Where better to have the home of the notorious Medusa, famous for turning her victims to stone, than in a petrified forest. As one of the most well-known creatures from Greek myth, featuring in countless books, movies, and historical records, it was a challenge for the development team to strip away the previous incarnations and start fresh. In mythology, Medusa was one of the three Gorgons, sisters with wings and snakes for hair, able to petrify onlookers. The Medusa in Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a woman, transformed by a First Civilization artifact into a creature of great power. As such, her temple features the classic geometry and architecture of First Civilization constructions, and is the only open-air First Civilization temple in game.
Greece is known for its monuments, temples, and statues, some of which still exist today. But even in 431 BCE, Greece had ruins of even older civilizations. In Phokis, thought of as the Land of the Gods and center of the world, stands the Sanctuary of Delphi, sitting on the slopes of Mount Parnassos, along with other temples and structures from the pre-classical Greek age. While drawing on real-life examples, historical research, plus popular culture in the form of movies and comics, the art team also had to construct some monuments from nothing but myth, and to give life to these magnificent structures.
The Apollo of Salamis stood in front of the Temple of Apollo, and was dedicated to Delphi after Themistokles' famous naval victory at Salamis in 480 BCE. The bronze statue was 6 meters tall, and held an aphlaston (a ship's stern ornament) in its hand as a symbol of the battle.
The Athenians dedicated this treasury to Apollo between 490-485 BCE, following their victory over the Persians at Marathon. Built with marble from Paros, the treasury was ornamented with thirty metopes depicting the exploits of Herakles and Theseus. Today it is the best-preserved monument in Delphi, thanks to restoration efforts by French archaeologists between the years 1903 and 1906.
Built between 600-550 BCE, the Bouleuterion of Delphi is one of the oldest monuments in the sanctuary. The building was the seat of the boule, a council that handled judicial and financial matters. The council was composed of randomly appointed citizens, all of whom usually served a one-year term. In Delphi, a total of thirty bouleutes were appointed during a year, with fifteen chosen every six months. Today, the building is in poor condition, but has been identified based on texts and inscriptions discovered in its proximity, including two accounts from the council itself.
To extract oil, olives were soaked and formented in baskets or vats for ten days. This softened their skin and made their oil more fluid, but also more bitter. An alternative was to wash the olives in boiling water before crushing them. The olives were then squashed and ground. Small amounts could be grounded in a stone mortar, but larger quantities had to be trod on in vats by men wearing wooden clogs, or in a rotary mill — a stone bowl in which one or two rotating millstones were activated by human or animal power. The usualy press featured a heavy wooden beam anchored at one end, and stone weights attached at the other end. The beam acted as a lever to increase the pressure exerted on the fruits. The crushed olives were placed in fiber or cloth containers, which were stacked on top of each other on the press bed. After a first pressing, boiling water was poured to ease the flow of oil, and the olives were pressed again. This process was repeated for a third pressing. The resulting product was a mixture of water, olive juice, and oil collected at the press bed. After it had settled in a container, the oil floated on the surface and was separated from the water. This had to be done swiftly to prevent dregs from fermenting and altering the taste of the oil.
Built by the Knidians between 475-450 BCE, the Lesche was a clubhouse renowned for displaying two paintings by Polygnotos of Thasos, one of ancient Greece's most famous artists. According to Pausanias, the paintings depicted the Capture of Troy and a Nekyia (necromantic ritual), respectively.The Lesche was most likely constructed after the battle of Eyrymedon in 467 BCE, which resulted in Knidos' liberation from the Persians.
The city of Argos dedicated several monuments to Delphi, including the Monument of Epigones. The statues depicted the leaders of the mythological expedition against Thebes. This expedition, further explored in one of Aiskhylos' tragedies, revolved around the sons of Oedipus: Eteokles and Polynices. Originally, the two had agreed to rule Thebes on alternating years, but conflict arose when Eteokles refused to give up power to his brother. With the help of Adrastos, the king of Argos, Polynices put together a group of seven attackers to reclaim the city. The Monument of Epigones served as a tribute to Greek soldiers willing to fight and die for what was theirs.
Olive production was an important feature of the ancient Greek agrarian economy. Both olives and olive oil were used on many significant occasions. Olive trees generally only produce a crop every other year, and production is very variable from harvest to harvest. This unpredictability was a reason against farmers becoming exclusive olive producers, so mixed farming remained the norm. Planting olive trees was one of the most important means of increasing the productivity of land and its long-term value. It allowed landowners to create usable farmland from slopes and other marginal land that would otherwise have been left for grazing. While an olive tree might produce a small return after eight to ten years, it may take twenty or thirty years to come into full production. But, olive trees live for a very long time. If a landowner planted olives on his land, it was his children and grandchildren that would harvest the fruit.
In the Phokis region was Delphi, the site of the Panhellenic oracle of Appolo. A prophecy would be given by the Pythia who sat on the Delphic tripod, a three-legged piece of furniture. This tripod, one attribute of Apollo, is depicted on the banner with two dolpins on either side. Dolphins were also dedicated to Apollo, and their name in Greek (delphins) recalled the name of Delphi. Tripods and dolpins appeared on some of the coinage of Delphi, but this composition derived from coinage of Megaris.
Greek Mythology is a fascinating and enduring collection of fantastical stories, ones that the art team had great fun recreating for Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Drawing on the myths, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and representations in classic artwork and popular culture, the mythological world becomes real for the Hero. The myths are instantly recognizable in the artwork on these pages. The Titan Tityos, who attempted to violate Leto, the daughter of Titan Coeus and Phoebe, was punished for his transgression by being tied to a rock in Tartarus. His liver was eaten each day by two vultures, only to regrow overnight to begin the torment again.
A sybil was a prophetess.
Legends say there were ten sibyls in the ancient world, with each one located at different sacred sites. One sybil even called Delphi her home long before the appearance of the Pythia, and allegedly delivered her prophecies from atop a stone.
Ancient Greek treasuries were small temple-like buildings that housed offerings to the gods. They resembled a vestibule with two columns in front. The Sikyonian Treasury dates back to the end of the óth century BCE. It was constructed upon the remains of an older structure, and incorporated pieces from buildings erected during the reign of the tyrant Kleisthenes. The Sikyonians dismantled said buildings after Kleisthenes's death, and reused their pieces in the treasury to mark the beginning of a new era in Sikyonian politics.
Oedipus was son of Laius and lokasta of Thebes. His father was terrified of a prophecy from Delphi predicting that Oedipus would end up killing him and marrying his wife, so he banished his newborn to the mountains to die. The baby was saved by a shepherd, who gave him to King Polybos and Queen Merope of Korinth to raise him as their own. As he grew, Oedipus heard of the Delphic prophecy, and, believing that it was related to Polybos and Merope, fled Korinth and directed himself to Thebes. Laius had died by then - killed by Oedipus, who did not yet know the king was his father - and the city was at the mercy of a monster, the Sphinx, with a human head and a body of a lion. She consumed those who couldn't solve her riddle: “Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?” It was Oedipus who replied that the creature was man: they crawl on all fours as a baby, walk with two feet as they age, and use a cane for support when they grow old. Oedipus solved the riddle, and the defeated Sphinx either fell from a high rock or ate herself and perished, depending on the legend. Oedipus became king of Thebes and married none other than lokasta, his mother. He unknowingly fulfilled the prophecy and became one of the most tragic figures in Greek mythology.
The theater of Delphi was sotiated above the Temple of Apollo. It offered an expansive view of sanctuary and the valley below, and could accomodate around 5000 spectators in its seats. The theater hosted different artistic contests, especially during competitions like the Pythian Games. These contests included plays, poetry readings, and musical performances, and were held not only for the audience, but also for Apollo, the god of arts - among other things.
Four methods were used to harvest olives. Picking the fallen fruits on the ground was the easiest, and could be sufficient to meet the needs of a small household. Another method was to have men shake the branches, while others collected the olives in wide baskets. Handpicking was preferable for preserves since it does not damage the fruits, but it was a long process. A less labor-intensive method was to beat the branches with long sticks to make the olives fall on the ground or onto pieces of cloth. However, this method damaged the branches and a rough beating could hinder the following year's production. Olives were a widespread and traditional food staple, often consumed with bread and onions. They could be bought in almost every city from street peddlers.
Tripods were pieces of furniture used during offerings and rituals. They were most associated with the god Apollo, and the Pythia sat on a sacred Delphic Tripod when delivering her prophecies.
The golden Tripod of Plataia was dedicated after a victory over the Persians at Plataia in 479 BCE. The tripod rested atop a twisted 8-meter tall bronze clumn that ended in snake heads. The column stood in Delphi until 324 CE, when the Roman Emperor Constantine relocated it to what is now known as Istanbul.Next to the tripod was the bronze Palm Tree of Eurymedon, which was dedicated by Athenians after Kimon's defat of the Persians at the Eurymedon river.
The banner of Delos is inspired by the coins of the island. According to mythology, Delos was the birthplace of Apollo, and along with Delphi, it was a major center of his cult. Apollo is a multi-faceted god; he is the god of music, poetry, arts, oracles, light, knowledge, and more. He's often represented on coins with musical instruments, such as the kithara on this bronze coin from Delos. The Pythian Games of Delphi also included musical events in honor of Apollo.
Farms aimed to be self-sufficient - a goal that was not always easy. Crop management required various strategies to alleviate the risk of crop failure and ensure the long-term productivity of arable land. Wheat crops failed due to insufficient rainfall every one in four years, while barley crops failed every one in ten. To mitigate crop failure, farmers planted small plots to exploit climate variations. In addition to cereals, they also cultivated vines for wine and olives for oil, and planted fruit trees and vegetables. Herms (rectangular pillar with head) were commonty placed as protectors of sanctuaries, crossroads, and public areas
Hippokrates is the most famous physician of antiquity, and is often called the father of medicine. He was born in the island of Kos in 460 BCE, and was a member of the Asklepiads, an aristocratic family that passed their medical techniques from generation to generation. He had two sons named Thessalos and Drakon.
Hippokrates left Kos early in his career to become a traveling physician. According to his biographers, he once went to the city of Abdere to cure the philosopher Demokritos of madness. Another anecdote says he was asked by the Persian king Artaxerxes to cure a plague decimating his army. Unfortunately for the king, Hippokrates refused to help an enemy of Greece, no matter how much gold he was offered.Hippokrates died in Thessaly at around the age of 85. He enjoyed a great reputation among his contemporaries, and Plato even credit him with inventing the scientific method.
The Greeks created a bodily hygiene and beauty culture in which the use of fragrances was very important. Both men and women used perfumes in their bathing rituals, and good hosts always made sure they treated their guests to a bath and perfume session. Men also anointed their bodies after exercising, and it was unheard of for a man to go to the gymnasium without bringing his flasks of perfume. The art of making perfume was part of the field of medicine in Antiquity. Certain resins and odorous substances were believed to have therapeutic effects, and the same ointments used in body care could also be used for healing purposes. In the 1st century CE, the famous pharmacologist Dioskourides even began his treatise De materia medica with a list of aromatic plants, perfumed oils, and unguents.
Perfume was often considered to be manifestations of the gods' divine presence, and using or offering incense and perfume was believed to be a way of communicating with the Gods. The Athenian Assembly burned aromatics at the start of each session to invoke deities, in the hopes they would inspire citizens to speak. Perfumes was also burned on the altars that populated various sanctuaries, and statues of the Gods were anointed with perfumed oils. But perfume wasn't the only scented substance with sacred uses. Gardens, as well as crowns of flowers and garlands, ensured that temples always smelled exceptional. Gods were also associated with specific flowers and plants. For example, Apollo was honored with olive branches, and Aphrodite was linked with Palm Tree of Eurymedon.
|Alexios – Achilles||Armor inspired by the myth of Achilles||60 Discovery Sites Found|
|Alexios – Hunter||Armor inspired by the Daughters of Artemis from the main game.||6 Discovery Sites found|
|Alexios – Immortal||Inspired by Persian armor.||15 Regions completed|
|Alexios – Mercenary||Interpretation of mercenary armor.||Default|
|Alexios – Spartan War Hero||Inspired by the Spartan armor.||120 Discovery Sites Found|
|Alkibiades||Athenian statesman and military commander. Has a cunning mind behind his golden locks.||Complete 1 Politics and Philosophy tour|
|Anthousa||Courtesan and friend to Alkibiades. Ambitious and calculating.||Default|
|Archidamos II||Spartan King, helped reach agreement with Perikles to end the First Peloponnesian War||Complete all Battles and Wars tours|
|Athenian Man||Average Athenian man. Wishes he were at a symposium right now.||15 Tours completed|
|Athenian Soldier||Light infantryman. Fights for Athens. Loves how strong his armor makes him feel.||3 Tours completed|
|Athenian Woman||Average Athenian woman. Excels at weaving. Longs to get out of the house more often.||10 Tours completed|
|Blacksmith||Greek metalworker. Does his best to live up to Hephaistos||Complete 1 Daily Life tour|
|Brasidas||Spartan General during the Peloponnesian War. A brave and intelligent fighter.||Complete 1 Battles and Wars tour|
|Cult of Kosmos Member||Operates secretly from upper echelons of society. Wears modified Greek theater mask.||25 Tours completed|
|Deimos (Kassandra)||In the main game your sibling becomes Deimos, a weapon raised by the Cult of Kosmos.||140 Discovery Sites Found|
|Greek Tough Guy||Brawny bruiser who idolizes Herakles. Has a passion for poetry, but hides it from his friends.||Default|
|Kassandra – Artemis||Armor inspired by the Daughters of Artemis from the main game.||15 Discovery Sites Found|
|Kassandra – Athenian War Hero||Inspired by the Athenian armor.||110 Discovery Sites Found.|
|Kassandra – Greek Hero||Inspired by the Greek armor.||8 Regions completed|
|Kassandra – Pirate||Interpretation of Pirate regalia.||Default|
|Kyra||Leader of a rebellion and proficient huntress, she is always ready to fight for her people||70 Discovery Sites Found|
|Layla Hassan||Talented and rebellious technical engineer. Former employee of Abstergo Industries.||20 Discovery Sites Found|
|Minotaur Fraud||Not a real Minotaur. Don't be fooled by his elaborate mask and imposing moo.|
|Myrrine||Kassandra and Alexios' mother. Also known as the pirate "Phoenix".||Complete all Daily Life tours|
|Perikles||Elected leader of Athens, a great political mind, and beloved by his people.||Complete all Famous Cities tours|
|Phoibe||Athenian orphan. Strong-willed and independent, she's always wanted her own eagle.||Find a Discovery Site|
|Praxilla||Well known poet who wrote many varied works, from drinking songs to festival hymns.||Complete 1 Art, Religion, and Myths tour|
|Pythagoras||Philosopher, scientist, and mathematician. Big into triangles.||Complete 1 Famous Cities tour|
|Sokrates||Athenian philosopher, creator of the Socratic method. Known to be quite the conversationist.||Complete all Politics and Philosophy tours|
|Sophokles||Famous Athenian playwright. Though very prolific, few of his works have survived to now.||Complete all Art, Religion, and Myths tours|
|Spartan Soldier||Spartan hoplite. Fights for the glory of his city. Never skips a leg day.||5 Tours Completed|
|Victoria Bibeau||Former Abstergo psychiatrist, she supervises Layla's health as she uses the Animus||90 Discovery Sites Found|
|Xenia||Fierce pirate leader. Adores searching for hidden treasure||5 Regions completed|
|Young Boy||Fun-loving and playful young boy. Wants to be a politician when he grows up. Or a soldier. Or both.||Default|
|Young Girl||Spirited young girl. Wants to grow up to be a huntress like Artemis.||Default|
|Abraxas||This fiery steed comes straight from the Underworld.|
|Aegean Atoll||This mount somehow enjoys being on rocking boats as much as running on dry land.|
|Brown Horse||A strong horse that won't hesitate to charge through battle.|
|Egyptian Horse||Horses from Egypt can endure the most hostile climates.|
|Fangs||This horse comes from generations who served silent and deadly warriors.|
|Hourglass||Adorned with the symbols of the Titan Kronos, this mount will serve faithfully until the end of time.|
|Mycenaean Steed||Often used for trading gold, copper, glass, and ivory, these horses are also found use pulling chariots in battle. (sic)|
|Pale Horse||Healthy and enduring, this horse can accomplish any task.|
|Pegasos||Born when Perseus decapitated Medusa, Pegasos was asked by Zeus to bring lightning and thunder to him from Olympos.|
|Racing Horse||These horse are bred for speed and like to carry as little as possible.|
|Traveler's Horse||There is no better horse for embarking on an epic journey.|
|Unicorn||This fabulous animal of legend is a loyal companion.|
- This Month in Assassin's Creed – June 2019 Update. Ubisoft. Accessed 18 June 2019