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10 Fun Facts You Need to Know About Ancient Athens

Updated: Mar 6

Ready for rapid-fire machine-gun-like blasts of historical trivia right to your brain box? You are?

Then buckle your seatbelt, put on your sunglasses, and chew some gum, as we drive you headlong into 10 Fun Facts You Need to Know About Ancient Athens.

Statue of Athena.
Athena! Athens got its name from her.

1) Athens was a democracy. Kind of. Unlike today in the UK where everyone gets to vote on who the leader is, in Athens only rich and powerful dudes got to vote. But hey, you’ve got to start somewhere! And Ancient Athens is where democracy began.

2) Athens was named after Athena, the Greek Goddess of War and Wisdom. You see, Athena and Poseidon were arguing over who would get to be the head god honcho of the would-be city of Athens. Poseidon offered the people a fountain of salty water as a gift. Athena granted them an olive tree. No contest really, Athena won and so Athens was called Athens; not Poseidonville.

Because that would be a frankly terrible name.

3) Fashion in Ancient Athens was nice and simple, everyone – male and female - wore a Chiton. A Chiton was like a long T-shirt. A really long T-shirt, one so lengthy that it drags along on the floor as you walk. That’s why Athenians wore belts, called Zosters, to hoist the excess material up off the ground.

4) Usually Athenians ate figs, olives, legumes; stuff like that. But when they did eat meat they ate a lot more of the animal than we do today, including the inner organs. Paunches (bits of the stomach) were a big hit and a taste sensation!

Images of Athens
Athens in all its wonderment.

5) Socrates, the famous philosopher, came from Athens. He loved asking questions, like, “What is justice?”

6) Theseus - the famous mythological hero and slayer of the Minotaur - founded Athens. Though that didn’t stop the Athenians from kicking the demi-god out of the city for being a bit of a berk.

Theseus versus the Minotaur.
Theseus, when he found time with his busy schedule of monster slaying, founded Athens.

7) Athenian soldiers were called Hoplites. These warriors carried loads of weapons, armour, and equipment. In total, Hoplites would carry some 20kg of gear, that’s like carrying a bag filled with 6,400 t-bags!

8) Aristotle, another famous philosopher, came from Athens. One of his many claims to fame is tutoring Alexander the Great on how to be awesome and conquer the world. Alexander did pretty much just that, conquering the Persian Empire and naming 70 cities after himself.

9) Ancient Athens was at its most fantastic during the Age of Pericles. Pericles was an important fella all about building lots of buildings, like the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

10) Athens is old. Really old, people have been living there for over 5000 years!


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