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Athens (See also wiki article Athens.)
ATHENS - In the earliest times, Athens, on the Gulf of Aegina, consisted of two settlements, the town on the plain and the citadel on the hill above, the Acropolis, where the population fled from invasion. Its name and the name of its patron-goddess Athene (Athenaia), to whom was dedicated the glorious Parthenon, are inextricably connected. She was the maiden goddess, the warlike defender of her people, the patroness of the arts. The city lies about three miles from the seacoast on a large plain. When Greece was free, Athens was the capital of the district Attica, and developed a unique history in Greece (q.v.). It first gained distinction by the repulse of the Persian invasions in 490 and 480 BC. It was burned by the Persians in the latter year. Themistocles provided it with a new wall embracing a larger area. The city now had a brilliant career of political, commercial, literary, and artistic supremacy. It was in the 5th cent. BC. the greatest of Greek democracies, and produced the greatest sculptures and literary works the world has ever seen. In the same century Socrates lived and taught there, as did later Plato (q.v.) and Aristotle. The conflict with Sparta, the effects of the Macedonian invasion, and ultimately the Roman conquest of Greece (146 B.C.) which became a Roman province under the name 'Achaia' (q.v.), lessened the political importance of Athens, but as a State it received from Rome a position of freedom and consideration worthy of its undying merits. Athens remained supreme in philosophy and the arts, and in St. Paul's time (Ac.17.15-18.1, 1Th.3.1) was still the intellectual centre of the world. It was also noted for its piety (Ac.17.22, Jos. c. Ap. ii. 11 [130]). On the altar to the Unknown God, see UNKNOWN GOD. The market where Paul argued (Ac.17.17) lay north of the Areopagus (q.v.). [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963. - A. So. - E. G.K.]