Athens, anciently capital of the Greek state of Attica and centre of Greek culture, now capital of the modern kingdom of Greece, 4 1/2 miles from its harbour of Pirceus, on the Gulf of Aegina. The city, which takes its name from Athena, ' goddess of science, arts, and arms,' and its own patron divinity, was originally built on the Acropolis, a conspicuous limestone rock rising 500 feet above the Attic plain, and afterwards spread out on the plain below; while the Acropolis became the citadel and subsequently the site of a group of beautiful temples of the time of Pericles (5th century, B.C.). The ruins of the Parthenon, the Erechtheum, the temple of Nike Apteros (' Wingless Victory'), and the Propylaea, still remain to testify to the former glory of the Acropolis. Of the other ancient buildings the most notable are the Theseum (also of the Periclean period, and still almost perfect), and the fragments of the vast temple of Zeus (begun in 530 B.C. and finished by the Roman Emperor Hadrian), with the theatre of Dionysus, etc. Not far from the Acropolis rose the hill Lycabettus (911 feet), and the hillocks or ridges of the Pnyx and the Areopagus or Mars Hill. At a greater distance the plain is bounded by Hymettus (3368 feet), Pentelicus (3641), and other ranges. Athens was fabled to have been founded by the hero Cecrops. The most brilliant period of its history was when, after the Persian wars (5th century, b.c), Athens took the lead amongst the Greek states, became powerful by land and sea, was adorned by Pericles with her most glorious buildings, and brought Greek literature and Greek philosophy to their highest development. Its decline dates from the disastrous conclusion of the Peloponnesian war (403 b.c). It was plundered and ruined by Sulla in 87 B.C.; and neither under Byzantine nor Turkish rule ever attained any prosperity. In the days of her glory Athens had some 100,000 free inhabitants and twice as many slaves; when after the liberation of Greece Athens was made the capital of the new kingdom (1834), it was a wretched village of a few hundred houses. Since then it has had a prosperous growth, looks like a well-built German town, and had in 1904 a pop. of 115,000, with a fine royal palace, many handsome private residences, a university with 50 professors and more than 1000 students, and a good deal of miscellaneous trade by way of the Piraeus. It is connected by rail also with Corinth, and the Athens-Larissa line is to bring Greece into railway communication with the rest of Europe. See, besides works on Greece, ancient and modern, Dyer's Ancient Athens (1873).
Athens, a name applied to more than twenty places in the United States. (1) In Georgia, 92 miles WNW. of Augusta. It contains several cotton factories, and is the seat of the university of Georgia (1801). Population, above 11,000. - (2) In the south of Ohio, on the Hocking River, is the seat of the Ohio University (1804). Pop. 3200.