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SS.6.G.4.1. The Golden Age of Athens. Athens’ Golden Age. From about 479-431 B.C.E., Athens experienced a period of great peace and wealth. The threat from Persia was over, and Athens became the artistic and cultural center of Greece.

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Ss 6 g 4 1


The Golden Age of Athens

Athens golden age

Athens’ Golden Age

  • From about 479-431 B.C.E., Athens experienced a period of great peace and wealth.

  • The threat from Persia was over, and Athens became the artistic and cultural center of Greece.

  • Educated citizens would help to create new advances in architecture, sculpture, drama, philosophy, and sports.

A city of contrasts

A City of Contrasts

  • Even though the public places in Athens were beautiful and impressive, the people of Athens lived in small, uncomfortable houses that lined narrow streets.

  • People threw their garbage into the streets, so neighborhoods often smelled bad.

  • Even the homes of the rich were plain and often uncomfortable.

The pride of athens

The Pride of Athens

  • To the Athenians, city life was much more important than private life, so their public places were the real pride of the city.

  • On the acropolis, the hill above the city, the Athenians built magnificent temples which were believed to serve as homes for the gods and goddesses.

  • The most famous temple was the Parthenon, built to honor Athena.

The temple at delphi

The Temple at Delphi

  • Another famous temple was located in Delphi and dedicated to the god Apollo.

  • Here, people could ask Apollo questions through a priestess called the oracle.

  • To answer a question, she would go into a trance, and the words she spoke were thought to come from Apollo himself.



  • Temples were built with rows of tall columns.

  • The Greeks used 3 kinds of columns.

  • Doric: the simplest, no base, slimmer toward the top

  • Ionic: thinner, sat on a base, spirals carved into the top

  • Corinthian: most complex, usually had carvings of leaves at the top



  • Creating lifelike statues was one of the greatest achievements of Greek sculptors.

  • Figures held natural poses with much more detailed muscles, hair, and clothing than in earlier Greek or Egyptian sculptures.

  • Greek sculptures were colorful with bronze, wax, or bright paint used to accent hair, lips, and clothes.

  • The colors on surviving statues, of course, have faded.



  • Going to the theater was a regular part of Athenian life.

  • Plays were staged in open-air theaters built into the side of a hill.

  • The theater was shaped like a bowl, and seats rose in a semicircle around the stage at the bottom so everyone could hear and see.

  • The Athenians even had contests for best playwrights and actors, although only men were allowed to perform on stage.



  • The ancient Athenians loved to talk and argue, especially about things they couldn’t see such as the meaning of life, justice, truth, and beauty.

  • They called this kind of thinking philosophy, which means “the love of wisdom.”



  • One of the greatest philosophers in Athens was Socrates who always encouraged people to question the things they thought they knew.

  • He taught others by asking them questions that forced them to think about their beliefs.

  • Socrates once said he was the wisest man in Greece because he knew that he did not know anything!

Trouble for socrates

Trouble for Socrates

  • Many disagreed with Socrates’ methods saying he led young people to disobey their elders by questioning their beliefs.

  • In 399 B.C.E., Socrates stood trial and was found guilty of crimes against Athens.

  • Although his friends urged him to escape, Socrates said he would honor the law and drank the poison hemlock.

  • His message continued, though, with his most famous student, Plato, who would later teach another great philosopher, Aristotle.

Athens athletes get it

Athens…Athletes…Get it??

  • The Greeks’ interest in philosophy shows how much they valued the mind, but their love of sports shows that they also prized a healthy body.

  • The Greeks often held athletic events to honor gods and goddesses.

  • To Athenians, the most important of these competitions was the Panathenaea which honored Athena.

  • The most famous throughout Greece, though, were the Olympics, a set of games played every 4 years at Olympia to honor Zeus.

  • These games were so important, the Greeks would call a truce from all wars so that athletes could travel safely to the games.

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