Dishing Out Television!

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It’s almost the beginning of July 2006. The Direct to Home (DTH) scene in India is getting ready for the mother-of-all battles. The Subhash Chandra owned Dish TV is going to have a competitor in the Rupert Murdoch backed TATASKY DTH platform soon. Though TATA owns seventy odd percent in the venture we all know where the technical expertise is going to come from.

Newscorp via STAR TV will no doubt be building a strong product for Indian households. Let us not forget that they own and operate BSKYB in the United Kingdom where they are almost considered untouchable in both quality of service and reach. DISH TV too is not sitting still. Only a few months from their launch, they started offering services like Movie On Demand and of course the more recent announcement of the inclusion of extra channels including SONY on their DTH platform.

STAR having stayed off the DISH TV platform with only STAR UTSAV making a token appearance, have made their intentions clear. This year promises to be an all out exciting one for television viewers in the country. Both the players are known to be aggressive. They are not going to pull any punches and surely aren’t taking any prisoners. When BSKYB launched to a lukewarm reception in the UK, SKY started giving the set top boxes free, they also bought all the exclusive football rights for an astronomical amount to bring in the viewers. Free set top boxes plus the only place to watch their football the Brits bought into BSKYB big time making it a thundering success. ZEE on the other hand back home is constantly updating their services portfolio. The latest addition to their list is Mobile DISH TV. Yes, that’s right you will be able to watch all their channels on the move in a car or a bus. They have a year’s head start over TATASKY and are looking to consolidate their lead.

TATASKY on the other hand has deep pockets and a vast library of content to dish out on their platform. It’s too early to tell who will win this fight but signals are out there that the fight will be long and fought hard. Especially now since SONY has joined DISH TV the lines are drawn. Like I mentioned some time back, people do want all the goodies that a DTH service brings but how many will want two different boxes at home is the question? Maybe it will lead to the mother-of-all mergers…the TATASKYDISH TV Network!

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Athens – Greece

Few cities in the world can compare to the historical significance of Athens. This city is not only the site of the first democracy in history; it has also been populated for over seven thousand years! When Ancient Greece started to rise in the fifth century B.C., it was Athens that sprang up as its capital and epicenter for the government. Athens is still the capital of Greece to this day but much has changed in the many thousands of years since it became the precursor to all of western civilization.

Despite its age, Athens still manages to be a very important and culturally relevant city in the 21st Century. It ranks among the top forty richest cities in the world and is also in the top thirty most expensive cities to live in. This owes much to the fact that Athens is and always has had a central role not only in the economic and political sphere of Greece but of the whole of Europe. Back when it was called “Classical Athens” and was considered one of many “city-states”, it was the educational capital of the world. The fathers of philosophy and modern thinking called Athens their home and the city fostered the growth of the mind, a concept relatively untouched by other countries at the time. Athens was the site of Socrates’ famous dialogues while Plato and Aristotle both used Athens as their headquarters for furthering the Socratic Method with the former’s Academy and the latter’s Lyceum still standing to this day within the city limits.

These days, Athens still boasts a remarkable beauty thanks to the combination of the ancient Greco-Roman architecture mixed with the Neo-Classical and Modern styles that stand side by side and, in some cases like Omonoia Square, are mixed together to create strikingly beautiful buildings. Though the city has withstood attacks from Persians, Romans, Germans, and many more in its thousands of years of existence, the beautiful art and architecture of Athens was nearly decimated by a very unlikely foe in the 1970s: Pollution. The vast amount of air pollution around Greece was taking its toll on the statues and sculptures until the Minister of Culture stepped in and completely revamped Athens’ energy policy. Thanks to his efforts visitors today can stroll around the Acropolis and the Parthenon without breathing in smog and the gorgeous caryatids and sculptures now seem poised to withstand yet another millennium.

Tourists still flock to Athens on a large scale each year and it isn’t hard to see why. Whether it is the history buff reveling in the leftovers of the first democracy or the partygoers who worship Athens’ beautiful beaches and nightlife, there is truly something for everybody in this remarkable city. Few ancient towns possess the immediacy of modern day Athens and it is a testament to the city’s unerring dedication to furthering the mind with intellectual pursuits rather than warmongering that this gorgeous area still stands proudly as a shining beacon to the brilliance of Ancient Greece.

Characteristics of Modern Media Technology

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Media has evolved a lot. Modern media depends on Technology to send information or gather them at a faster speed. The following are the characteristics:  

Speed: The information reaches at a faster speed.     

Reach: The information must have mass reach.  

Preventing Calamities: Modern media broadcasts 24 hours. So high technology is used to beat natural calamities.     

Constant Transmission: Technology is used for constant transmission.  

The following tools of technology is used to achieve the aforesaid targets:  

 

Use of Satellites: Satellite Technology is used to ensure constant transmission. A satellite hardly  gets affected by climatic conditions.     

Use of Video Conferencing: It is used to get live and personalized feedback without physical presence.  

Use of Television Conferencing: It is used to get audio inputs from far off places.  

Use of Internet: Internet is being relied upon for information.  

Use of high end Computer Technology: Computing and high speed processors are used for fast and able data processing.  

Use of Mobile Satellite Vans for News Coverage: Satellite vans are used for high mobility and anytime coverage.    

Use of high end Audio visual equipments: Use of high end audio visual equipments have emerged that leads to clear sound and picture. Tape recorders and high end video cameras are used by media persons to take interviews fast and transmit news ina proper and efficient manner.    

Thus these are the characteristics of Modern Media Technology that has made media more fast, accurate and improved and has made it an indispensable tool for protecting the  largest democracy of the world named India by making it more transparent and accountable to people. Hence these are the characteristics of modern media technology.  

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Athens Holiday – The Greek Capital

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This metropolitan capital is also the largest and one of the oldest cities in Greece.  Athens  is rich with ancient history, myths and a contemporary touch of bars, café and restaurants.  Athens  is also the  city  of Olympics, architecture and holiday in  Athens  is nevertheless a complete adventure in itself, with  Athens  offering breathtaking archaeological rich places, beaches and crowded shopping areas.

Following are some of the tourist spots or attractions one must visit when holidaying in  Athens :

Acropolis

Acropolis is one of the major tourist spots as it stands high up on the hills, giving a spectacular view of the Greek capital. The structure is loaded with archaeological values and its origin goes back to 510 BC. The attraction is also worth paying a visit when holidaying in  Athens , due to the amazing temples surrounding it. Every year huge crowd of tourists and visitors come to acropolis when on a holiday in  Athens . Never miss acropolis when in  Athens .

Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon

This tourist spot is a great way to enjoy holiday in  Athens  by viewing sunset, also you get to experience archaeological rich monuments surrounded with striking sea view. The place is a quite a hit among foreign tourist and local visitors.

National Archaeological Museum

This popular tourist spot was structured in year 1889 and is home to some of the most amazing ancient artifacts and proof of really old civilizations. The museum is loved by many who plan a holiday in  Athens  just for its history and archeological richness. The museum has mask of Agamemnon that goes 3,600 years back. Greek sculptures, Cycladic idols, pottery and ancient jewelry, coins as well as a 2000 years old finding of a computer.

The Plaka

Plaka is loved by tourist and visitors and is a major way to wind down when holidaying in  Athens  and experiencing the thick and thin of  Athens’s  archeology. This 19th century narrow streets going down the acropolis is filled with shops, cafes, boutiques and local building. This tourist spot is round the clock surrounded with tourist and local visitors. You can always found good souvenir to take back to your country from souvenir shops on Plaka.

Piraeus

This attraction is found at the suburbs of  Athens  and has tourist and local visitors of  Athens  all dinning at best and sophisticated dine outs, taverns and sea food restaurants. Piraeus is not exactly a part of  Athens , but can be reached by ferries and is worth paying a visit, when relishing an exotic holiday in  Athens .

Kessariani

Maintained and run by a group of monks, the monastery is a regularly visited by tourist holidaying in  Athens , due to its historic and amazing built and background. The building built in 11 century got its mosaics in 16th or 17th century. This orthodox monastery is surrounded with pleasing scenery, flourishing gardens and enjoyable views.

Time to visit or holiday in  Athens 

The best time to holiday in  Athens  would be anytime other than months of summers, which are hot and humid enough to make the holiday a disappointment. Thus, it is better to visit  Athens , for that fun and enjoyment, in the months of March and October. Spring and autumn is always good time to tour  Athens .

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What Satellite TV Programming Do I Need?

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Because there are typically a number of package choices it may be a good idea to have a good guesstimate of what a person is looking for before making the decision. There are so many combinations that customers can purchase and even add on additional channels to their likening. Programming generally depends on the amount of monthly costs that a subscriber is willing to pay. The more the package the larger number of channels, even additional movie, adult and sports channels. These may include premium packages that are not a part of the regular or lower package deals provided by the satellite company.

The type of programming that is needed is solely dependent on a couple of factors. First, the types of shows, movies and events that are desired will help the consumer make the determination of which to pick from. There are the most basic packages that simply give subscribers channels such as local, regular programming and the bare necessities. Then there are those that have premium channels and allow the ordering of movie events, NFL Sunday tickets and much more. The nice thing about the choices is the fact that there are so many different needs and desires when it comes to television programming. These vast packages allow everyone from single individuals to families with children to decide the type of package that they will have.

Members can also choose between the different pay-per-view and subscription features that are offered by most satellite providers. The pay-per-view is generally those that are ordered on a one time basis. It may be a particular movie or sporting event that the viewer wishes to see, but there is just the onetime fee, not an ongoing one. This pay as you go is very popular because it doesn’t lock the viewer into any recurring monthly charges and gives them the freedom to choose which programs that they want to see for additional costs. If there is a particular channel or programming that the subscriber watches often, then they may consider a monthly subscription. This allows them to watch that channel on an ongoing basis without incurring any additional costs. Sports channels, adult channels and movie channels are all examples of this type of subscription services.

For most satellite providers there is some necessary equipment that allows their customers to choose the type of programming that they receive. Just like the ordering of movies or other paid events must have a box or other equipment to send the signal and purchase the event. It is important for the member to ensure that they have a package that allows for the viewing or paid services so that they can order when they wish. Nothing is more aggravating than preparing to watch an event or movie and find out that it is not allowed because the appropriate programming or equipment doesn’t exist. Prepare early to ensure that the best programming and services are available before being disappointed. There are many programming choices to view and sign up for, the best way to determine the best for you is to review the choices and find the best fit!

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A Guide to Athens City

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Why go to  Athens 

 Athens , the capital of Greece, is often referred to as the cradle of Western Civilization. Despite the recent economic downturn, tourism in Greece continues to grow and the 2500 old  Athens   City  remains one of the main draws.

The archaeological promenade, a 2.5 miles long, treeline walkway now connects the Acropolis to the city’s major ancient sites making the visit to these places infinitely a much more pleasant experience.

While for most visitors  Athens  may be about its historical monuments the  city  has much more to offer.  Athens  promises one of the most happening nightlife options in Europe with everything on offer from the modern tavernas in the former district of Gazi to the sophisticated lounge-bars and eateries of Kolonaki.

 Athens  is well connected by Europe’s largest passenger port, Piraeus. The port serves more than one million of visitors who have the option of taking ferries, catamarans and hydrofoils to the various Greek islands. Piraeus is the gateway for short cruises around the Greek Islands and many companies stop here en route to their Mediterranean and world cruises. Visitors can disembark and explore the hilltop Acropolis, the Parthenon and Delphi.

When to go to  Athens 

 Athens  invites visitors all year round. For sightseeing, the best time to visit is during spring and autumn when the days are warm and sunny. The temperatures sore from mid-June to late August, while the whether remains unpredictable November and February ranging from bright to rainy to occasional snow.

How to reach

Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines operate direct flights from several countries. The cost of flights to Greece is highest from July and August when most Europeans take their holidays. For the rest of the year, prices vary according to demand.

Cruises

Cruise ships disembark passengers at the  city’s  port, Piraeus, which is about 8miles from  Athens   city   centre . Shuttle buses ferry passengers from the port to the city centre. Their frequency and cost depends on the cruise ship company involved. The metro (green line) also runs from Piraeus to Monastiraki, below the Acropolis and taxis are also available.

Transfers

 Athens  International Airport is about 17 miles north-east of the  city . The metro connects to Syntagma and Monastiraki in the city centre. Besides there are airport buses, operated by  Athens  Urban Transport Organisation that run to and from the  city . Taxi services are also available.

Getting around

 Athens  is best explored on foot, however, public transport system is both efficient and cheap. It includes buses, trolley buses and the metro. You can also hire a car in  Athens   city   centre . However, roads are congested and parking is difficult and expensive.

Accommodation

There are several options available including Greece villas, hotels and guesthouses. The peak months are July and August and so if you are visiting during this period, it is advisable to book accommodation in advance.

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Breathtaking Historical Athens

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The history of  Athens  dates back over five millennia and one can therefore imagine the rich culture, art and civilization that it must possess. Tourists like to visit  Athens  for its range of absorbing museums, to explore ruined temples and relish the exquisite Greek cuisine.

On an  Athens  tour one must explore the splendid Parthenon, considered perhaps, to be the finest of all Greek temples. The adjoining area too has a collection of temples which can be explored. Another captivating temple is the Temple of Olympian Zeus built by the Romans.

Being an ancient  city ,  Athens  naturally is home to a number of renowned museums. You would require almost a day to view the famous collection of ancient Greek artifacts on a visit to the National Archaeological Museum. The Theatre Museum and the Numismatic Museum are worth a shot for their fascinating displays.

You will be surprised by the rich cultural life that  Athens  is proud of. You must on a visit to  Athens  see productions of ancient plays in their original settings. It is an experience by itself to explore the many shops and classy restaurants of Kolonaki. A taste of Greek coffee on the streets of Plaka will impress you. One historical site which one must not miss is ‘The Acropolis Hill’ or also called the ‘Sacred Rock’. The area is home to three important temples: the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the temple of Nike in honor of the goddess Athena. These and many other  Athens  sites you can take pleasure in while enjoying the hospitality of  Athens  hotels.

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Increase Online Video Marketing Reach Through Social Media

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Online video marketing is increasingly the chosen option of businesses to establish their online presence. One of the most effective video marketing strategies is the use of social media to widen and diversify audience reach. There are many ways to create a social media presence but statistics show that the use of video is the most popular way. There is no question about video’s popularity by now as its claim to popularity is fully backed by impressive statistics.

Another important thing to remember about videos is that it can work well with various forms of social media. For example, a YouTube video that viewer like can be shared with other Facebook accounts, blogs as well as other social media sites. It will be the viewers themselves who will make the video go viral for the following reasons:

1. Easy to Share

If you have a fun, exciting and informative video, viewers will not only ‘like” or click a thumbs sign, they will share it with other people so that they can talk about it later. It’s a natural tendency to share something that makes one excited, sad, happy or inspired. The same thing will happen to those who were affected by the shared video because it only takes a click to share.

Even news videos now have links to share with various social media platforms. Viewers usually want to share videos with controversial topics. Eventually, if more sharing recipients like the video, it will go viral. Videos are not only easy to share, they are the type of content people would like to share. Generally, videos are easier to understand than text.

2. Billions of Potential Video Viewers

You can’t share if there’s nobody to share with, right? But there are hundreds of millions of users in the top social media sites. Facebook alone has over 1 billion users. In 2013, eMarketer forecasts social networking users to reach 1.43 billion, an increase of 19.2% from 2012.

Targeting social media users is like targeting a captive audience for your videos. That’s why it’s one of the most considered video marketing tactics to promote brand awareness.

3. Extended Accessibility

TV commercials are played only based on how much air time you bought. It’s not something that’s available if you want to see it. For example, a friend can only tell you about an impressive TV commercial. You have to watch TV and hope it will be shown. On the other hand, online videos are continuously available unless you delete them.

For instance, Justin Bieber’s music video “Baby” with over 756.4 million views has been continuously available at YouTube since April 25 2010. Until now there are still viewers without the need to buy more air time. It’s the same with the popular Volkswagen advertisement with over 53 million hits and counting. If the Justin Beiber video was shown only on a music site like MTV, it would have been taken off after a few months to give way to newer releases. It couldn’t have been viewed at least 756.4 million times.

If you are not using online video marketing strategies to establish your social media presence, you could be limiting the reach of your online marketing efforts.

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7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting A Social Media Campaign

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Starting a social media campaign for your business is like entering into a relationship. For it to succeed over the long term you must be committed to it and have realistic expectations as to what you’ll get out of it.

Current statistics show that that 73% of Twitter registrants have posted fewer than 10 messages and one third have posted none at all.

The majority of Facebook fan pages give visitors no incentive to “like” the page. As well, they rarely develop ongoing communication campaigns catered to their fans.

These trends are a clear indication that both people and businesses are participating in social media with either no plan, no goals, or no idea why.

So before you make your first tweet, create a Facebook fan page, or start searching for Linked In connections, ask yourself these questions. The answers may help you better focus your time, resources, and better understand how to include social media into your company’s marketing program.

Why do I want to participate in social media?

With social media “experts” declaring that any business not tweeting or without a Facebook fan page is losing business to competitors, many entrepreneurs feel compelled to participate out of fear. This just leads to frustration when time and money is spent on setting up accounts and custom pages, only to not see any measurable results. The fact is that social media is like any other marketing tool and may not be right for every business. Even so, it must still be used effectively, perhaps as part of a bigger campaign, for any benefits to be seen.

Do I have the time and resources?

Unlike conventional marketing such as ads in a newspaper, direct mail, or even a web site, social media requires continuous attention. Depending on your business, this could range from a few minutes a day to over an hour. Do you have the time, desire and patience to make regular and relevant tweets or update your Facebook page? And while you could have a staff member or virtual assistant do this for you, that means allocating resources and money that you may or may not be able to afford, or could better be used elsewhere.

Can I continuously come up with great content?

Unlike a blog where you can post content on your own schedule, making social media work means posting interesting and relevant content on an ongoing basis. Depending on which guru you listen to, this can mean a few tweets a day to more than 10 per hour. Can you keep up this pace? And do you really have enough to say? Even sharing a mix of personal anecdotes, relevant links, retweets, and business information can only go so far before you start getting mentally exhausted – and frustrated.

What are my goals?

Unless you’re involved in social media for purely social purposes, it’s likely that you are hoping to get some form of financial return out of it. The goals of attracting more clients and more sales is what drives most businesses to social media in the first place. So let’s be realistic – from a business perspective, followers, friends, fans and connections are really nothing more than lists. And if the names on those lists are not the kinds of clients you would like to attract, then you may be preaching to the wrong crowd. The best thing to do is decide what your goals are from the start. For many businesses, clients can come from any geographic area or be any demographic, so social media may be ideal. Think about if you’re trying to create awareness for your company, product, or just you

What are my alternatives?

Social media is just one of hundreds of ways to reach people. Depending on your goals you may find some old fashioned methods produce better results with less resources. Trade shows, direct mail, email, seminars, networking events, newspaper ads, or publicity stunts can still garner the kinds of result you may be looking for. Many companies have successfully used social media to build word-of-mouth “momentum” that originally started from a conventional marketing campaign. Remember the old spice guy? That campaign started as just a television commercial and went on to become the most successful social media campaign ever.

Do people really care?

The open forum concept of Twitter, Facebook and Linked In groups allows for huge numbers of people to talk about common interests. But let’s be honest here. Is your business worthy of discussion? A client of mine who is a self employed dental hygienist was disappointed when her tweets and Facebook postings garnered little response. While they were quality posts, it seemed teeth cleaning was just not a big draw for online discussion. It can be tough to hear, but sometimes the world does not share your passion about your product or service.

How do I measure success?

While many web designers and consultants will point to Google Analytics when asked about return on investment, the fact is that ROI can only be measured in dollars and cents. Your time and resources are worth something, so you must put a value to them and factor that in when developing your social media campaign. If you make $80.00 an hour doing what your core service is, then investing 10 hours in social media will cost you $800.00. If you don’t make that money back in a reasonable period of time, then you will have a negative return. Factor in other costs such as a graphic designer or marketing consultant, and your costs will be even higher. Success should be defined by a set of criteria before you begin your campaign – social media or otherwise.

Think of social media as just one tool in your marketing toolbox. And the most effective marketing campaigns come from knowing what tools to use and when to use them, either alone or in combination.

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The East Side Of Athens Ancient Agora

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During the rule of Solon the Lawgiver, when the  Athens  Agora was taking shape, its eastern side was entirely free of buildings. The Dromos cut across the area diagonally, serving as a boundary. But since the city was growing, the need for public buildings was also increasing, especially after the Persian wars. Then it was that a great rectangular colonnade was built around structures that very likely belonged to one of the  Athens  courthouses, as indicated by a ballot box with judges’ votes found there. During the Hellenistic period, Attalos of Pergamum donated to the city of Pallas Athena a magnificent, two-storey stoa, squaring off the Agora site and extending the business centre of the city east of the main road. These buildings were destroyed when the city was sacked by Sulla; but immediately afterwards, the Romans began a rapid reconstruction, an unerring measure taken by conquerors throughout history. On this side of the Agora, a library was built and then another stoa, beside that of Attalos. These and other structures were seen by Pausanias and Strabo when they came to  Athens  in the 2nd century AD.

Of the first long narrow stoa on the southeastern corner of the site, just a few vestiges remained because of the many changes the building underwent during the years after it was first built. Initially, the Stoa was on two levels along the Panathenaic Way, in order to compensate for the natural slope of the ground. It had eleven spaces for shops and a row of columns with Ionic capitals. It must have been a very busy spot, as shown by the figures of Herms, animals, and sundials carved on the first of the columns. The layabouts of antiquity also carved youthful profiles, some with lovely classical features and others created with the intent to ridicule.

The colonnade must have extended in front of the library beside it, of which nothing remains, because it was totally destroyed during the Herulian raid, but also because the wall put up afterward was built on top of the structures on this side of the Agora. Evidence of the inhabitants’ anxiety after the sack of the city are the pieces of columns lying like wounded giants, in the hurriedly built wall.

This was the 3rd century AD, when the Roman Empire was confronting the threat of fierce Germanic tribes such as the Goths, Vandals and others, who had set out in the north, followed the river roads of eastern Europe and joined together with the nomadic tribes of the Caucasus. From there they spilled over into the Roman possessions around the Black Sea and Asia Minor. The Goths, together with their cousins, the Herulians, built a powerful fleet and sailed down into the Aegean sowing devastation. They captured Lemnos and Skyros, and destroyed Corinth and Argos while other cities were desperately and vainly building fortifications. In the sack of  Athens , the Herulians destroyed everything except for the temple of Hephaistos and the sanctuaries on the Acropolis. The entire Agora was covered with a layer of ash from the buildings burned at that time. Many keys have been found which had been thrown into wells at that period, an indication of the despair felt by the frantic inhabitants. But the barbarian occupation did not last long. Encouraged by the fiery speeches of the orator Dexippus, the residents of  Athens  remembered how their ancestors had dealt with the Persians, and as one man, two thousand Athenians managed to expel the invaders.

Immediately afterward, they built a wall using rubble from the ruined buildings. The perimeter of this wall greatly reduced the area which the Athenians would have to protect in any future attack. The fortifications started under the Propylaea, from the position of the present Beule gate, descended to the east side of the Panathenaic Way, crossed the southeastern stoa and the library, reached as far as the back wall of the Stoa of Attalos, turned east for some meters and then turned south again, to touch the Acropolis rock. The extent of this fortification shows that the number of residents had already – dropped sharply. The wall was 11-1/2 meters high and 3-1/2 m. wide, it had two faces and the space in between was filled with column drums, inscriptions, pedestals of votive statues and sculptures of all kinds. Traces of one fortress tower and parts of a water mill have been preserved. Three gates have been identified with certainty on the west side, along the Panathenaic Way. But the most impressive part of the remaining wall, with the built-in column drums and the pieces of marble from earlier buildings, is on the site where the library of Pantainos once stood.

This was the intellectual heart of  Athens , built around the end of the lst century AD. A long inscription has been found informing us that Titus Flavius Pantainos dedicated the entire structure with all its buildings and library with all its books to Athena Polias and the emperor Trajan. This same inscription enabled scholars to conclude that the building had a courtyard with rooms and roofed areas, as well as some outdoor stow. Another inscription demonstrated the strict operating regulations of the institution, which forbade the borrowing of the books on oath. Strangely enough Pausanias did not mention this library at all, ever partial to the sanctuaries of the gods and to more ancient structures. He treated the huge building next door, the Stoa of Attalos, with the same indifference.

Attalos of Pergamum, who built this magnificent Stoa, came from an adventurous dynasty which, although its roots were of Asia Minor extraction, had become fully Hellenized. Its founder was a certain Philetairos from the Pontus in whom the Macedonian Lycimachos had such confidence as to entrust his treasury to him to be kept in the fortress at Pergamum. The person who gained most from the disputes between Lysimachos and Seleucos over the division of Alexander the Great’s enormous empire was this flexible Philetairos who found himself owner of all the goods entrusted to him. He founded the Attalid state which, between 283 and 129 BC developed into a centre of commerce and letters, largely due to the use of a new writing material derived from animal skins. It was, of course, not so new; from very ancient times, highly significant writings were recorded on a piece of thin leather called a diphthera. The Persians took this word and adapted it to their own language as defter, from which comes a Greek word meaning notebook. When, under the rule of the Ptolemies, Egypt prohibited the export of papyrus, the kingdom of Pergamum perfected the technique of making diphthera, to give it a finer texture, whiter colour and the possibility of writing on both sides. It also acquired a new name, pergamini or parchment.

The kings of Pergamum were great lovers of beauty. They adorned their capital with wonderful monuments, and superb sculptures. The “Dying Gaul” in the Capitol Museum in Rome, but above all the Altar of Pergamum in the Berlin Museum, bear witness to the high artistic standards of the period. The library of Pergamum, which was said to contain some 20,000 volumes, later was given by Mark Antony to the lovely Cleopatra to enrich the library at Alexandria. Finally, Attalos III, the last of his line, bequeathed this wealthy kingdom to the people of Rome by virtue of a controversial will, thus consolidating the Roman presence in Asia.

Two of the most significant scions of the Attalids, who alternated their rule of Pergamum, had studied in  Athens . Each one, at the height of his glory, donated magnificent buildings to the city of their youth: the Stoa beside the Theatre of Dionysus, called Eumenes II, and the large Stoa in the Agora, Attalos II. Built in 150 BC at right angles to the slightly earlier Middle Stoa, the Hellenistic Stoa of Attalos became the new commercial  centre  of  Athens  for the next four centuries.

To construct the enormous base, or crepidoma, on which the stoa rested, the remains of an older peristyle which may have belonged to one of the 5th century courthouses, had to be covered. The Stoa was built in two tiers; it was about 117 metres long and 20 m. wide. Its facade, which faced west. was adorned by 45 Doric columns, unfluted at the bottom, as was the custom in the Hellenistic years, while in the interior, covered area there were 22 columns supporting a roof, all of which were unfluted with Ionic capitals. The facade of the upper floor also had 45 little Ionic columns which were joined together with decorated marble slabs: parapets to protect the people. There was an inner colonnade on the upper floor, as well, corresponding to the one on the ground floor. On each of the two levels, there were 22 square rooms suitable for use as shops. Initially the stairs leading up to the second level were outside, on the two narrow sides of the Stoa, as we can see traces of them on the northern edge of the ground floor roofed area, where the vestiges of a large marble fountain were also found. The outer, southern stairway was replaced by an interior one when the library of Pantainos was built to create more space between the two buildings. It has been restored and is used today. Later, a road passed over the south side of the Stoa of Attalos leading to the  Athens  gate at the boundary of the Roman Agora, where the commercial  centre  of the  city  continued to be during the centuries that followed. But even when the ancient Agora was no longer regarded as the business centre, it never ceased to be the main meeting place for the residents. Strabo, who came to  Athens  in the 2nd century AD, called the Roman market “Eretria”, referring to the more ancient one by the same name his contemporary, Pausanias, used: “Kerameikos”.

During the barbarian invasion, the Stoa was burned as seen from marks on the south inner wall. During the subsequent fortification, the solid structure built by Attalos was deemed suitable for a city wall. Then the shop facades were built, rows of columns were torn down and fortification towers were added all along the former stoa, leaving the Agora outside the protected district. One part of the back wall was dug up in the 19th century, and after the regular excavations in 1953, the Stoa of Attalos was fully restored by the American School of Classical Studies. Today it houses a museum on its ground floor, and in the roofed outdoor area there are statues, votive sculptures, inscriptions and stelae which bring to life many details of the past life of the City.

In front of the outer colonnade of the Stoa of Attalos, in the middle of the facade, a large square base was erected for a monument depicting the king of Pergamum in a chariot. Some years after the Stoa was built, a bema (raised platform) was also put up, from which orators and Roman generals could address the citizens of  Athens , another indication of how much traffic there was in the area. The large number of bases of honorary monuments on the opposite side of the Panathenaic Way proves the same thing. Right behind these monuments are the ruins of the Odeion, one of the most greatly altered buildings in the Agora, owing to the many reconstructions and additions.

From various sources in antiquity, we know that the open, triangular space in the Agora next to the Dromos, was the venue for rituals and presentations, before the theatre of Dionysus was built. There were ikria here, wooden platforms from which the spectators watched the action unfolding. A brief reference even exists to the fact that one could see by climbing up on the branches of a poplar tree growing nearby. Perhaps this previous usage, together with the existence of a playing area and a large open space, was the reason why Agrippa built the Odeion on this precise spot.

Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was Augustus’ son-in-law and governor of the Eastern provinces of the Empire. Late in the 1st century BC, he offered the Athenians a magnificent building for performances or even for philosophical discussions, thus winning the coveted title of benefactor of the city together with an honorary monument at the entrance to the Acropolis. The design of the Odeion reflected the Roman taste for the grandiose; it utilised the natural incline of the ground in the best possible way, giving it plenty of space on the ground, with stoae, multiple levels and two entrances. The most impressive of these must have been in the south, right in front of the Middle Stoa.

Persons entering the Odeion from this side passed under two rows of Corinthian columns, then proceeded into the main hall with its very high ceiling projecting up above the building. From this point, one descended to the 1000-seat audience area, and from there to the semi-circular marble-tiled orchestra. Above the orchestra was the stage, behind which was the other, northern entrance with a small exterior gate.

The large dimensions of this hall must have been the reason why the roof collapsed a century after it was built. In the restoration which followed, a good many rows of benches were removed from the upper section, and the hall acquired perceptibly smaller dimensions. Now it had but one entrance, that of the north side, embellished with the statues of Giants and Tritons. After the barbarian raids, the building underwent another radical change of form, to house a gymnasium. Of its old facade, only four of the gigantic statues were kept, while behind it, a large flat area was levelled off to be used as a porticoed courtyard. Even farther back, rooms and more courtyards were built and equipped with bath facilities. The large number of these disparate areas can be explained by the custom of the ancients to have classrooms in their gymnasia. This custom provided the root for the modern Greek word gymnasio meaning secondary school.

Even though the Odeion was completely destroyed, the monumental 2nd century AD entrance remained, of which we can still see the bases and the statues of two proud representatives of the world of myth. One is a Giant with a snakish form and the other is a mature, strongly-built Triton with a fishtail instead of legs.

It has been ascertained that myths were generated at the dawn of human thought. Beginning with the superstitions of the early peoples up to the symbolism of the Platonists that expressed primitive totemism and interpreted metaphysical concerns, myth passed through various stages of evolution. But it always presupposed the distant past, because only then did events take on the dimension of hyperbole. A typical example was provided by the Romans whose own mythology was comparatively poor. In addition, they were practical and victorious army commanders and administrators who had no need of heroic models, nor were they generally renowned as being lovers of speech and poetry. But they adopted the Greek religion and liked to present mythological beings in their art.

Giants and Tritons were the remnants of Greek prehistory. The former were vanquished by the gods in a decisive battle for peace, because as children of the Earth – shown by their snakish tails – they represented natural phenomena such as storms, floods and disasters. One of these was Enceladus, who was buried under the island of Sicily and every time he moved, he created earthquakes. The Tritons were considered to be marine spirits and had a dual substance of both destruction and restitution; rather like a storm followed by calm. Although Triton appears as the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite in Greek mythology, he may very possibly be of foreign origin.

A gold Mycenean ring shows some creatures wearing a strange, scaly garment. There are Babylonian ring stones and Assyrian seal stones in the British Museum, depicting forms that are half human and half fish, while at Pasargadae in Persia, a gate has been found on the jamb of which there is a relief representation of such a dual-form being. Eusebius, a 4th century Christian chronicler, mentioned similar creatures who appeared, he said, during the years of the Babylonians. Eusebius found this information in the texts of Apollodoros, a 2nd century BC historian and philosopher who was interested in the genealogy of the gods before the Flood. Apollodoros’ main source was a “Babylonian History” written in Greek in the 4th century by a priest named Berosos from Bithynia. Having access to the cuneiform texts of the Chaldeans, Berosus learned that in the very ancient times, an amphibian creature named Oannes had arisen from the sea. This strange being civilized humanity with its superior wisdom. Other Oannes also appeared from time to time, always bearers of abundance and knowledge. The Sumerians worshipped this figure as a god named Enki, while the Babylonians called the same divinity Ea, i.e. god of the waters, and believed that his palace was in the city of Eridu on the Persian Gulf. It is strange to consider the fact that in western Africa there is a tribe called the Dongons, who believe that knowledge about the movement of the stars was imparted to them by wise amphibian creatures. Then of course there is the Gorgon or mermaid of more recent Greek folklore. So it would appear that the Triton of the ancients is a timeless being, with distant alien ancestors as well as more recent local descendants.

In Pausanias’ book Boeotica, there is a very interesting reference to Tanagra. The men of the region, he said, managed to catch a Triton by trickery and beheaded it because it was annoying their wives. The traveller described the headless body, which he claimed to have seen displayed in the city, and, in fact, described an amphibian, unpleasantly anthropomorphic being. The Triton of the Odeion was a beautified version of this mythic creature which has so captured the human imagination.

In front of the gigantic statues at the entrance to the Odeion there was a large temple of Ares. Today nothing of this building has been preserved other than its outline – distinguishable from the rest of the site because it is covered with gravel – a few slabs with relief shields, and some scattered parts of columns and capitals. Many of the latter bear the characteristic notches made by Roman masons, even though the rock was cut in the 5th century, showing once more that the temple had been initially built somewhere else, and was brought here bit by bit and rebuilt together with its later altar during Roman rule. The citizens of classical  Athens  were not particularly interested in erecting a temple to Ares, the violent, strongly built, and not exceptionally intelligent, god of war; especially when their  city  was protected by Promachos Athena, she of organised defence and cool strategy. But the Romans held Ares (Mars) in high esteem as the divine leader of their legions. The prevailing opinion of scholars as to the initial position of the temple of Ares in the  Athens  Agora is that it was originally situated in Acharnes, where there is known to have been a sanctuary of the god. A cult of this kind would have been absolutely logical there, given that this Attic Deme was situated at the border which had to be guarded against enemy raids, and the war-loving Ares, pugnacious and always ready for a fight, was the most appropriate protector of the borders. One should also point out the mingling of two extreme states in the erotic relationship between warlike Ares and the tender goddess Aphrodite. The union of these two totally different divinities generated the all-powerful Eros, who could calm even his fierce father, and Harmony who brought the equilibrium into this contradictory world.

Pausanias gives us only one fleeting mention of the temple of Ares, because, when he passed by the site, he was mainly interested in the statues in and around it. Some of these statues have been identified in the truncated sculptures found nearby and now exhibited in the Agora Museum. Others have been lost forever: such as the 6th century statues of the tyrannicides Harmodios and Aristogeiton. These statues were booty which Xerxes took to Persia where they remained until Alexander the Great regained them and sent them back to  Athens . The tyrannicides were considered worthy of respect as symbols of Democracy; they were also the first mortals to be honoured by having statues erected to them, a privilege hitherto reserved only for gods and demigods. The statues had been placed on this side of the Agora because this was probably where Hipparchos was killed. His death was decisive in bringing down the tyranny instituted by his father, Peisistratos. Thucydides told us that this bold action took place on the day of the Panathenaia, when the tyrant was supervising the preparations for the procession. We also know that the celebrants’ point of departure was the Altar of the Twelve Gods, the city’s main crossroads.

This significant Altar had been built in about 520 BC on the northern edge of the Agora, the apex of the imaginary triangle which constitutes its area. Within a walled enclosure, it had become established as the place where the underprivileged, the persecuted and even badly treated slaves sought sanctuary. Perhaps this was why Pausanias wrote that he saw an Altar of Mercy: an obvious reference to sanctuary, which led -most archaeologists to conclude that these two names referred to the same altar. Of the structure itself there are no significant traces, because the train line passed right over it. This railroad line is for visitors the northernmost boundary of the Agora, even though there were in antiquity, important buildings on the other side, which have not yet been fully excavated and studied.

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