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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book II   


The Athenians listened to his advice, and began to carry in their
wives and children from the country, and all their household
furniture, even to the woodwork of their houses which they took
down. Their sheep and cattle they sent over to Euboea and the adjacent
islands. But they found it hard to move, as most of them had been
always used to live in the country.
From very early times this had been more the case with the Athenians
than with others. Under Cecrops and the first kings, down to the reign
of Theseus, Attica had always consisted of a number of independent
townships, each with its own town hall and magistrates. Except in
times of danger the king at Athens was not consulted; in ordinary
seasons they carried on their government and settled their affairs
without his interference; sometimes even they waged war against him,
as in the case of the Eleusinians with Eumolpus against Erechtheus. In
Theseus, however, they had a king of equal intelligence and power; and
one of the chief features in his organization of the country was to
abolish the council-chambers and magistrates of the petty cities,
and to merge them in the single council-chamber and town hall of the
present capital. Individuals might still enjoy their private
property just as before, but they were henceforth compelled to have
only one political centre, viz., Athens; which thus counted all the
inhabitants of Attica among her citizens, so that when Theseus died he
left a great state behind him. Indeed, from him dates the Synoecia, or
Feast of Union; which is paid for by the state, and which the
Athenians still keep in honour of the goddess. Before this the city
consisted of the present citadel and the district beneath it looking
rather towards the south. This is shown by the fact that the temples
of the other deities, besides that of Athene, are in the citadel;
and even those that are outside it are mostly situated in this quarter
of the city, as that of the Olympian Zeus, of the Pythian Apollo, of
Earth, and of Dionysus in the Marshes, the same in whose honour the
older Dionysia are to this day celebrated in the month of Anthesterion
not only by the Athenians but also by their Ionian descendants.
There are also other ancient temples in this quarter. The fountain
too, which, since the alteration made by the tyrants, has been
called Enneacrounos, or Nine Pipes, but which, when the spring was
open, went by the name of Callirhoe, or Fairwater, was in those
days, from being so near, used for the most important offices. Indeed,
the old fashion of using the water before marriage and for other
sacred purposes is still kept up. Again, from their old residence in
that quarter, the citadel is still known among Athenians as the city.

The Athenians thus long lived scattered over Attica in independent
townships. Even after the centralization of Theseus, old habit still
prevailed; and from the early times down to the present war most
Athenians still lived in the country with their families and
households, and were consequently not at all inclined to move now,
especially as they had only just restored their establishments after
the Median invasion. Deep was their trouble and discontent at
abandoning their houses and the hereditary temples of the ancient
constitution, and at having to change their habits of life and to
bid farewell to what each regarded as his native city.
When they arrived at Athens, though a few had houses of their own to
go to, or could find an asylum with friends or relatives, by far the
greater number had to take up their dwelling in the parts of the
city that were not built over and in the temples and chapels of the
heroes, except the Acropolis and the temple of the Eleusinian
Demeter and such other Places as were always kept closed. The
occupation of the plot of ground lying below the citadel called the
Pelasgian had been forbidden by a curse; and there was also an ominous
fragment of a Pythian oracle which said:

Leave the Pelasgian parcel desolate,
Woe worth the day that men inhabit it!

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