A day in the life of an ancient Athenian

The timeline goes back to 427BCE. The Peloponnesian war has occurred between Athens and Sparta as well as their allies. The Athenians can’t possibly match the Spartan army on land, therefore they moved inside the walls surrounding their city, abandoning the countryside. A massive superior fleet and an extensive maritime army surrounds them and provisioned them. Although a plague took away a third of population.

Archias and Dexileia are two citizen of the city who live in the center of Athens.

Archias was a high-class pottery painter and participates in city affairs. His wife, Dexileia can neither participate in politics nor own property. They had four children, however only three children, two daughter and a son, survived past infancy. Daughters were considered as liabilities, since a huge amount is required as dowry to marry them off. Dexileia had to remain at home all day and teach her daughters all the domestic household chores. Archias was confident that with his wealth he would be able to find his daughter good matches. Athenians families generally own slaves who were captured during war from Thrace. This family had one too, Thratta. She had to do most of the household chores and helped in raising the children. There was also Philon, a paidagogos, who basically supervises the son’s education.

Archias usually got up early in the meeting during the meeting days.  The meeting of Ekklesia or the assembly of citizens take place at dawn. Before setting out the session, Archias burned incenses and pours a libation at the small shrine in the courtyard on behalf of his entire household.

Archias on arriving at the commercial heart of the city, witnessed a large crowd of people. There were adult native men with military guidance all over the place. A noticeboard with the meeting’s agenda was attached to the central monument. The agenda was: What to do with the people of Mytilene? Mytilene is a city on the island of Lesbos where a rising revolt against Athenian rule was recently put down. The meeting is usually held at a Prynx, place on a hill west of acropolis. A crowd of around 5000citizens was seen. The hill was purified by heralds, who sprinkle the boundary frame with pig’s blood.

The presiding officer responsibly opened the meeting and asked: “Who wishes to address the assembly”. Soon after that, the willing speakers shed light on the issue. Some adviced on giving mercy, and some keep on fixating at vengeance.

The verdict that was announce for the Mytilene people was to execute the men and enslave the women and children. When Archias told this decision to his wife, she remarked this as cruel and harsh. Therefore, Archias reported this concern to other men of the assembly. Soon a second assembly was called and the verdict changed to execution of the leaders only.

However, a military ship had already left to execute the first decision and are aware of the changes. Therefore, to inform them, another ship was sent.

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