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The Classical Age
Guide: Athens

This collection of resources provides an overview of the ancient Greek society of Athens. Primary and secondary sources provide students with a springboard to study the development of democracy in Athens and to compare this system with democracies today. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Time Period Key Understandings

  • Geography impacts a civilization's ability to communicate and unify
  • Centralization allows for culture to flourish and disseminate
  • Oral history and tradition perpetuate cultural norms and religion
  • Societal celebrations and norms can glorify and support warfare
  • Political structure influences the economic stratification of a society
  • Democratic systems value the rights and opinions of citizens
  • Internal rivalry leads to competitive rather than collaborative systems
  • Art and architecture depict society's values and histories
  • Philosophy, or the love of wisdom, contributes to the betterment of society through academic research, reasoning, and discovery
  • Strong leadership leads to success of political and military campaigns
  • Cultural diffusion can lead to romanticism of past civilizations and culture

Key Questions

  • How did Solon contribute to the development of Athenian democracy? How did that system differ from the earlier oligarchic government of Athens?
  • How did the Athenians view the rights and responsibilities of citizenship? In what sense was Athenian citizenship more limited than citizenship in modern democracies? How did the lives of non-citizens differ from those of citizens?
  • How were places such as the Acropolis and the agora important to public life in Athens?


  1. Overview: Athens
  2. Outline: Outline
  3. Transcript: Transcript
  4. Lesson: Introduction
  5. Lesson: 1-Athenian Democracy and Citizenship
  6. Lesson: 2-Acropolis and Agora
  7. Lesson: 3-Daily Life and Culture in Ancient Athens
  8. Lesson: Closing
  9. Glossary Terms: agora
  10. Photos & Illustrations: Acropolis of Athens
  11. Photos & Illustrations: Athens: Pnyx, site for public assemblies
  12. Reference Articles: Athenian Democracy
  13. Reference Articles: Greek Slavery
  14. Reference Articles: Acropolis
  15. Reference Articles: Athens
  16. Reference Articles: Greek Citizenship
  17. Biographies: Solon
  18. Letters & Narratives: Plutarch: Solon reforms the domestic laws of Athens (ca. 100 CE)
  19. Letters & Narratives: Xenophon: a critic's view of the Athenian democracy
  20. Speeches: Pericles: Funeral Oration (ca. 430 BCE)

MLA Citation

"Athens." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2158310?cid=256. Accessed 21 Jan. 2020.

Entry ID: 2158310

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