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On this page: Agones – Agonothetae – Agora – Agora


The etymology of the name was also a subject of much dispute among the ancients ; and the va­rious etymologies that were proposed are given at length by Ovid. (Fast. i. 319—332.) None of these, however, are at all satisfactory ; and we would therefore suggest another. It is well known that the Quirinal hill was originally called Agomis, and the Colline gate Agonensis. (Fest. s. vv. Ago-nium, Quirinalis; comp. Dionys. ii. 37.) What is then more likely than that this sacrifice should have been originally offered on this hill, and should thence have received the name of Agonalia ? It is expressly stated that the sacrifice was offered in the regia, or the domus regis, which in the historical times was situated at the top of the sacra via, near the arch of Titus (Becker, Handbuch d. Rom. Al-terth. vol. i. pp. 237, 238)-; but in the earliest times the regia is stated by an ancient writer to have been upon the Quirinal (Solin. i. 21), and this statement seems to render our supposition almost 'certain. (Classical Museum, vol. iv. pp. 154—


The Circus Agonensis, as it is called, is sup­posed by many modern writers .to have occupied the place of the present Piazza Navona, and to have been built by the emperor Alexander Severus on the spot where the victims were sacrificed at the Agonalia. Becker (Ibid. pp. 668—670) has 'however brought forward good reasons for question­ing whether this was a circus at all, and has shown that there is no authority whatever for giving it the name of circus Agonensis.

AGONES (ay&ves), the general term among the Greeks for the contests at their great national games. [certamina.] The word was also used to signify law-suits, and was especially employed in the phrase uywwcS ri^roi and aTifjLijToi. [Ti-


AGONOTHETAE (aywo9€Tai), were per­sons, in the Grecian games, who decided disputes

'and adjudged the prizes to the victors. Originally, the person who instituted the contest and offered the prize was the agonothetes, and this continued

"to be the practice in those games which were in­stituted by kings or private persons. But in the

'great public games, such as the Isthmian, Pythian, &c., the agonothetae were either the representatives of different states, as the Amphictyons at the Pythian games, or were chosen from the people in whose country the games were celebrated. During the flourishing times of the Grecian republics, the Eleians were the agonothetae in the Olympic games, the Corinthians in the Isthmian games, the Am­phictyons in the Pythian games, and the Corin­thians, Argives, and inhabitants of Cleonae in the Nemaean games. The aytivoQeTai were also called aicrvfAvriTai, aycjvdpxat, aycavofiiKai, aOXoderai, pa§SoS%oi or pa£o!ov6/jiOi (from the staff they carried as an emblem of authority),

AGORA (ayopa), properly means an assembly of any nature, and is usually employed by Homer for the general assembly of the people. The agora seems to have been considered an essential part in the constitution of the early Grecian states, since the barbarity and uncivilised condition of the Cy­clops is characterised by their wanting such an assembly. (Horn. OcL ix. 112.) The agora, though usually convoked by the king, appears to have been also summoned at times by some distinguished chieftain, as for example, by Achilles before Troy.


(Horn. II. i. 54.) The king occupied the most important seat in these assemblies, and near him sat the nobles, while the people sat in a circle around them. The power and rights of the people in these assemblies have been the subject of much dispute. Platner, Tittman, and more recently Nitzsch in his commentary on the Odyssey, main­tain that the people was allowed to speak and vote ; while Muller (Dor. iii. 1. § 3), who is followed by Grote (Hist, of Greece, vol. ii. p. 91), maintains that the nobles were the only persons who proposed measures, deliberated, and voted, and that the people was only present to hear the debate, and to express its feeling as a body ; which expressions might then be noticed by a prince of a mild dis­position. The latter view of the question is con­firmed by the fact, that in no passage in the Odyssey is any of the people represented as taking part in the discussion ; while, in the Iliad, Ulysses inflicts personal chastisement upon Thersites, for presuming to attack the nobles in the agora. (II. ii. 211—277.) The people appear to have been only called together to hear what had been already agreed upon in the council of the nobles^ which is called fiovX-Ji (II. ii. 53, vi. 114, yepovres /SoyAeurai), and &ocokos (Od. ii. 26), and some­times even ayopa. (Od. ix. 112 ; ayopal fiovX?)-<f>6poi). Justice was administered in the agora by the king or chiefs (Hes. TJieog. 85 ; Horn. //. xviii. 497, &c. Od. xii. 439), but the people had no share in its administration, and the agora served merely the purpose of publicity. The common phrases used in reference to the agora are els ayopfyv Ka\eew • ayopijj/ iroi€i(r6ai, riOecrOai • els t^z/ ayo-ptjv elffLevai, ayeipeo-dcu, &c. (Wachsmuth, Hellen. Altertlmmsk. vol. i. p. 346, 2d ed. ; Hermann, Lehrbuch. d. Griecli. Staatsalt. § 55 ; Grote, Hist, of Greece, vol. ii. pp. 91—101.)

Among the Athenians, the proper name for the assembly of the people was e/c/cA^crta, and among the Dorians aXia. The term agora was confined at Athens to the assemblies of the phylae and demi. (Aesch. c. Ctes. § 27. p. 50. 37 ; Schomann, De Comiiiis At/ten, p. 27, Antig. Jur. Publ. Grace. pp. 203, 205 ; Bockh, Corp. Inscrip. vol. i. p. 125.) In Crete the original name ayopa. continued to be applied to the popular assemblies till a late period. (Bekker, Anecdot. vol. i. p. 210.)

AGORA (ayopa), was the place of public as­sembly in a Greek city, both for traffic, and for the transaction of all public business. It answers to the Roman forum ; and, in fact, it is impossible to keep these two subjects entirely separate.

In the earliest times, the Agora was merely an open piece of ground, which was generally in front of the royal palace, and, in sea-port towns, close to the harbour. The Agora of Troy was in the cita­del. Here, the chiefs met in council, and sat in judgment, and the people assembled to witness athletic games. It was evidently also the place of traffic and of general intercourse : in one passage of Homer, we have a lively picture of the idlers who frequented it. It was enclosed with large stones sunk into the earth, and seats of marble, were placed in it for the chiefs to sit in judgment, and it was hallowed by the shrine of one or more divinities. In the Agora which Homer particularly describes, — that of the Phaeacians, — there was a temple of Poseidon. (Horn. II. ii. 788, vii. 345, 346, xviii. 497—506, Od. vi. 263—285, viii. 16, 109, xvi. 361.)

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