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William Davis, A Day in Old Athens

 

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Page 6

Notes

[1] The "Boule," the great standing committee of the Athenian people to aid the magistrates in the government.

[2] In which case, of course, the regular courts and the Council would hardly meet.

[3] The most fearful thereof was the great plague of 430 B.C. (during the Peloponnesian War), which nearly ruined Athens.

[4] Every guess at the population of Athens rests on mere conjecture; yet, using the scanty data which we possess, it seems possible that the population of all Attica at the height of its prosperity was about 200,000 free persons (including the metics—resident foreigners without citizenship); and a rather smaller number of slaves—say 150,000 or less. Of this total of some 350,000, probably something under one half resided in the city of Athens during times of peace, the rest in the outlying farms and villages. Athens may be imagined as a city of about 150,000—possibly a trifle more. During serious wars there would be of course a general removal into the city.

[5] See the very significant comment on the physical limitations of the old Athenian life in Zimmern's "The Greek Commonwealth," p. 209.

[6] Zimmern, ibid.

[7] The mere matter of climate would of course have to come in as a serious factor. The Athenian would have found his life becoming infinitely more complex along the material side when he tried to live like a "kalos-k'agathos"—i.e. a "noble and good man," or a "gentleman,"—in a land where the thermometer might sink to 15° below zero Fahrenheit (or even lower) from time to time during the winter.

A Day in Old Athens

Cf. Mark Twain, Approaching the most renowned of cities

 

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