The Stoa

The Stoa Poecile or “Painted Stoa” was a structure in Athens where Zeno that Citium met his followers and taught. Later adherents of this philosophical legacy were offered the name “Stoic” from their association with this place.

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1. General definition of Stoas and also the ar of the Stoa Poecile

Stoas were a typical feature in Greek cities and also sanctuaries. Open at the front through a façade that columns, a stoa noted an open, but protected, space. In enhancement to giving a place for the activities of polite magistrates, shopkeepers, and also others, stoas regularly served as galleries for art and public monuments, were provided for spiritual purposes, and also delineated public space. In the fifth century BCE the Athenian Agora had four, maybe five, stoas that lined the southern, western, and northern sides of the public area.

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

2. Background of the usage of the Stoa Poecile

Originally called for Peisianax, brother-in-law of the Athenian politician Cimon, the Stoa Poecile was constructed at the northern finish of the Athenian Agora in the 460s BCE. Make of limestone, the Stoa had a façade that Doric columns and a row of Ionic columns running down the center to support the roof. It soon became popularly well-known as “poecile” or “painted” top top account of the amazing painted panels that adorned its back wall.

Soon after the Stoa Poecile was built, a collection of panel paints by top artists the the day were installed. The Roman take trip writer Pausanias (1.15) provides a vivid description of the illustration of these paints in his own day, part six century later. Amongst the mythological and historical topics illustrated were Theseus battling the Amazons, the Greeks fighting at Troy, the Athenian success over Sparta at Oenoe near Argos (date unknown) and also the battle of Marathon (480 BCE). Over there were also portraits the the heroes Marathon, Theseus, Hercules, and the goddess Athena. Success souvenirs from Athenian battles, such as the shields bring away from captured Spartans in ~ the fight of Pylos in 425 BC, also adorned the Stoa. However, the terrible invasions the the Herulians (CE 267) and the Visigoths (CE 396), along with the depradations the a greedy roman inn proconsul, stripped the Stoa Poecile of its arts (Synesius, Letters 54 and 135).

Scattered bits of details from antiquity testify to the selection of public offers of the Stoa Poecile. Because that example, juries sometimes carried out their company in the Stoa (IG II2 1641 and 1670), and also public announcements were made there, together as during one of the yearly celebrations that the Eleusinian Mysteries (Scholiast on Aristophanes’ Frogs 369). However, the Stoa Poecile was mostly the meeting ar of simple people, beggars, fishmongers, entertainers, and others offering their wares or simply escaping the heat of a summer’s day. (Camp, Archaeology the Athens, 68-69).

When Zeno the Citium come in Athens roughly 313 BCE, he frequently met his pendant in the Stoa Poecile and taught there. Zeno’s factors for making use of the Stoa Poecile room unknown, but one might speculate that the depictions the virtue – so important in Stoic values – in many of the paintings that adorned the structure may have had some part in his decision. Zeno also appears to have taught in the Academy and Lyceum gymnasiums (Diogenes Laertius 7.1.11) and perhaps in other venues in Athens – yet the name of that an initial meeting place ended up being synonymous v Zeno’s followers. The institution itself never had a resolved locale, and also later Stoic thinkers taught in gymnasia and music halls transparent Athens (Wycherley, Stones that Athens 231-233).

3. References and Further Reading

John M. Camp, The Archaeology of Athens (New Haven and also London 2001)Camp, john M. The Athenian Agora (London 1986)Travalos, J. Pictorial thesaurus of old Athens. Athens 1971.Wycherley, R.E. The Stones that Athens. Princeton 1978.

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