Cut into the Hill of the Muses, you can find the Prison of Socrates. It was here that the great Socrates, father of the dialectic method, was imprisoned and later executed. After being defeated by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War, the people of Athens clung to their beauty, wealth, and past glories, all values that Socrates attacked. By defending the importance of the mind, Socrates was convicted of corrupting the Athenian youth, and sentenced to death. While waiting for his execution by poison, Socrates stayed in the prison that you can still visit on the slopes of the Filopappou Hill.
As a student of Socrates, Plato painted, composed music, and wrote tragedies. After Socrates’ execution in 399 BC, he abandoned his dream oh pursuing a career in politics, and instead became a teacher. He founded the Academy where he followed the teachings of Socrates by using the question-and-answer method for instruction purposes. At the time, the Academy was not open to the public, however membership was free, and open to women as well. Aristotle was sent to study there, and later on, became Alexander the Great’s tutor.
Once Alexander the Great left the Academy, Aristotle returned to Athens and founded the Lyceum. He was an advocate for realistic thinking. This school, also known as the Peripatetic Achool, because students would discourse while walking with their teachers, was a school for philosophers. At the time that the school was in session, both philosophy and rhetoric were taught to students. Located amongst the Byzantine and Christian Museum and the Athens Conservatoire, the Lyceum is mostly an archaeological site today. You can still see the baths, the Teaching Room, different athletic rooms, and the Library while visiting.
Pericles, the great Athenian politician, sponsored the construction of the Hephaestus Temple whose construction was completed in 415 BC. Overlooking the Ancient Agora, the temple was dedicated to the Greek god of volcanoes and metalworking. Hephaestus was the only Olympian god to perform manual labor, so many potters’ and metalworking shops were established near the temple. At the time of its construction, the Parthenon was also being constructed because of Pericles’ vision to transform Athens into the center of Greek power and culture. Located atop the Agoraios Kolonos hill, the temple has been well preserved throughout history.
Eresos is the birthplace of so many Greek philosophers. Not only were Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle born there, but so were Pythagoras, the founder of the Pythagorean theorem, and Epicurus, a philosopher who focused on happiness. Located on the island of Lesbos, this volcanic beach village was also highly involved in the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. The Greek philosopher, Theophrastus of Eresos, was known for being the father of Botany and Ecology around 320 BC. Theophrastus was a student of Aristotle and succeeded him as a director of the Lyceum in Athens. He was known for being well spoken and having attended Plato’s Academy.
As the son of an Athenian sculptor, Socrates became famous for his philosophy based upon self-questioning. The Agora was an open place of assembly, and was originally located near the Acropolis, nearby the present-day Thesion. The Agora is where Socrates would question the market-goers on the meaning of life, which would attract much of Greece’s youth. This method was known as the Socratic method. It is there where Plato heard Socrates, and inspired his own philosophy off of the Socratic method. One of his contemporaries, Dogenes of Sinope, was known for searching for an honest man by holding light up to the faces of the people in the Agora.
Just north of the Acropolis and east of the Ancient Agora, you can find remains of the Roman Agora built in Athens during the Roman period. Built as a succession to the Ancient Agora, construction for the Roman Agora began during the 1st century BC. Funded by Julius Caesar and Augustus, the Roman Agora replaced the Greek Agora when it was transformed into a museum. Each side of the Agora represents a direction on a compass, and was also used as a sundial, weather vane, and water clock. Presently, you can visit both the Roman Agora and The Tower of the Winds in Athens.