The Romans and Athens
The Roman's occupation of Athens by the general Sulla in 86 B.C. resulted in the city's steady decline, which started with the transportation of art treasures to decorate Rome. The Roman's treatment of the Athenian heritage incorporated the elements of acquisition and of mimesis, through which many important Greek statues (later destroyed) have survived in memory. The Acropolis Hill was altered with the construction of a small temple, eastwards of the Parthenon, dedicated to Roma and Augustus.
An elegant monopteral, circular temple, with a diameter of 25 feet had no cella and the nine columns that supported the roof were Ionic imitations of the Erechtheion. Emperor Claudius showed his admiration of the Acropolis by erecting the grandiose stairway leading to the Propylaia, thus providing a formal and symmetrical approach to the sacred hill. Of all the Roman Emperors, only Hadrian showed his love and admiration for the city and its heritage, as he not only introduced and incorporated the Greeks to the Roman laws and gave them the rights of Roman citizenship, but he also repaired the Parthenon of earlier fire damages and built the Library, to the east of the Agora (a peristyle court, with a columnar facade on the west, three exedras on the north and the south, as well as a large room for storing the books with adjoining lecture and reading rooms).
He also solved the crucial problem of the city's water supply by building a great reservoir on the slopes of the Lycabettus hill, which collected water brought there by channels from Mt. Parnes. His impressive architectural work included the continuation and completion in 131/2 A.C. of the unfinished grandiose Peisistratid temple of Olympian Zeus and the erection of a massive gateway leading to the peribolos of the temple, the Arch of Hadrian. The eastern part of the city received this exquisite ornament with the inscription over the monumental entrance reading "This is the Athens of Theseus, the old city" on one side and on the opposite "This is the city of Hadrian, not of Theseus". In the middle of the second century, the wealthy Herodus Atticus, built an impressive Odeion at the west end of the south slope of the Acropolis, dedicated to his wife Regilli. By reshaping the natural slope (unlike the roman theaters with the strong substructure) he built an otherwise typical roman imperial theater, with an auditorium which could seat 50,000, and an ornate scene backed by a three-storey facade of arches. To this day, the Odeion of Herodus Atticus hosts important cultural events.
During the reign of Valerian (253-260 A.C.) the walls of Athens were rebuilt. In 267 A.C., when the Heruli, Germanic people, attacked the city, the walls were not strong enough to keep them from sacking it. The Athenians moved to a small area to the north of the Acropolis, which they fortified with new walls consisted of marble from the ruined buildings. During the 4th and 5th century, Athens experienced a brief regeneration with its philosophical schools attracting important students from all over the known world (Julian the Apostate, Basil and Gregory) only to fall into oblivion after Emperor Justinian closed them in 529 A.C.
More Hellinistic & Roman Period
Alexander the Great
Philippos II: Alexander's father
Roman Legions Conquer Greece Greek Culture Conquers Rome
Oblivion for 18 Centuries
The first contact of Rome with the Greeks took place in the area of southern Italy. The Greek cities underestimated the Roman power and their first attempt to stop them from expanding to the south ended in the glorious fiasco of Pyrrus.
St.Paul in Athens introducing the humanism of the monotheistic religion
The first stroke against Athens was dealt by the Herulians, barbarian invaders of Germanic speech who sacked the city in AD 267 and left it in ruins.
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It was on the Areopagos, the hill of god Ares-place of his trial for the murder of the son of Poseidon who had violated his daughter-that St. Paul preached the gospels to the Athenians.