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Named for a goddess, epicenter of the first democracy, birthplace of tragic and comic theatre, locus of the major philosophical schools, artistically in the vanguard for centuries, ancient Athens looms large in contemporary study of the ancient world. This Companion is a comprehensive introduction the city, its topography and monuments, inhabitants and cultural institutions, religious rituals and politics. Chapters link the religious, cultural, and political institutions of Athens to the physical locales in which they took place. Discussion of the urban plan, with its streets, gates, walls, and public and private buildings, provides readers with a thorough understanding of how the city operated and what people saw, heard, smelled, and tasted as they flowed through it. Drawing on the latest scholarship, as well as excavation discoveries at the Agora, sanctuaries, and cemeteries, the Companion explores how the city was planned, how it functioned, and how it was transformed from a democratic polis into a Roman city.
In the shadows of its Classical past, Athens during the Roman period saw a number of changes at the hands of imperial or local individuals, particularly for political and ideological, religious, and cultural and educational motivations. This chapter explores how the city grew and developed under the Romans, creating a unique urban space that expressed a multifaceted identity.