The Stoa

The Stoa Poecile or “Painted Stoa” to be a building in Athens where Zeno of Citium met his followers and taught. Later adherents that this philosophical heritage were offered the name “Stoic” from their association v this place.

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1. General definition of Stoas and the place of the Stoa Poecile

Stoas were a usual feature in Greek cities and sanctuaries. Open up at the front v a façade of columns, a stoa detailed an open, however protected, space. In enhancement to providing a location for the tasks of civil magistrates, shopkeepers, and others, stoas frequently served together galleries for art and public monuments, were offered for spiritual purposes, and also delineated windy space. In the fifth century BCE the Athenian Agora had actually four, probably five, stoas the lined the southern, western, and northern sides of the public area.

During excavations in the northern component of the Athenian Agora in the 1980s, excavators uncovered the southwestern corner of a structure that is currently identified as the Stoa Poecile (for a fuller conversation of the archaeological evidence, watch Camp, Archaeology the Athens, 68-69 and figures 64 and 65).

2. Background of the use of the Stoa Poecile

Originally named for Peisianax, brother-in-law of the Athenian politician Cimon, the Stoa Poecile was developed at the northern end of the Athenian Agora in the 460s BCE. Made of limestone, the Stoa had a façade that Doric columns and a heat of Ionic columns running under the middle to assistance the roof. It soon happened popularly known as “poecile” or “painted” top top account that the remarkable painted panels that adorned its back wall.

Soon ~ the Stoa Poecile to be built, a series of panel paints by top artists the the day were installed. The Roman take trip writer Pausanias (1.15) offers a vivid description of the figure of these paintings in his very own day, part six century later. Among the mythological and also historical topics shown were Theseus battling the Amazons, the Greeks fighting in ~ Troy, the Athenian success over Sparta at Oenoe near Argos (date unknown) and also the battle of Marathon (480 BCE). There were additionally portraits of the heroes Marathon, Theseus, Hercules, and the goddess Athena. Success souvenirs native Athenian battles, such together the shields taken from caught Spartans at the battle of Pylos in 425 BC, additionally adorned the Stoa. However, the damaging invasions that the Herulians (CE 267) and the Visigoths (CE 396), together with the depradations of a greedy roman proconsul, stripped the Stoa Poecile of its arts (Synesius, Letters 54 and 135).

Scattered bits of information from classical times testify come the selection of public supplies of the Stoa Poecile. For example, juries sometimes conducted their business in the Stoa (IG II2 1641 and 1670), and public announcements were made there, together as throughout one that the yearly celebrations that the Eleusinian Mysteries (Scholiast ~ above Aristophanes’ Frogs 369). However, the Stoa Poecile was generally the meeting location of ordinary people, beggars, fishmongers, entertainers, and others offering their wares or just escaping the warm of a summer’s day. (Camp, Archaeology that Athens, 68-69).

When Zeno that Citium come in Athens roughly 313 BCE, he regularly met his followers in the Stoa Poecile and taught there. Zeno’s reasons for utilizing the Stoa Poecile are unknown, but one might speculate the the depictions the virtue – so important in Stoic principles – in plenty of of the paintings that adorned the building may have had actually some part in his decision. Zeno likewise appears to have taught in the Academy and Lyceum gymnasiums (Diogenes Laertius 7.1.11) and also perhaps in various other venues in Athens – but the surname of that first meeting place ended up being synonymous through Zeno’s followers. The institution itself never had a addressed locale, and also later Stoic theorists taught in gymnasia and also music halls transparent Athens (Wycherley, Stones the Athens 231-233).

3. References and also Further Reading

John M. Camp, The Archaeology that Athens (New Haven and London 2001)Camp, man M. The Athenian Agora (London 1986)Travalos, J. Pictorial dictionary of ancient Athens. Athens 1971.Wycherley, R.E. The Stones the Athens. Princeton 1978.

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