December 11, 2007

Stoa poikile

The Stoa poikile or Painted Porch was erected during the 5th century BC and was located on the north side of the Ancient Agora of Athens. The Stoa was the location from which Zeno of Citium taught Stoicism. The philosophical school of Stoicism takes its name having first been expounded here, having derived from the word "stoa". Most of his teachings and lectures to his followers were made from this porch.

The Stoa Poikile was decorated by fresco painter and sculptor Micon of Athens in collaboration with Polygnotos of Thasos such as the celebrated Battle of Marathon. Both artists worked around the mid-5th Century BC.

What is striking about the Stoa Poikile is the contrast between the mythical and historical events portrayed. Depictions of Theseus' victory over the Amazonians and the Fall of Troy contrast sharply with the portrayal of the Battle of Oinoe - the first important Athenian victory over Sparta- and the Battle of Marathon. The Battle of Marathon features most predominantly and as such, displays the confidence and identity of the Athenians in the wake of the Persian Wars, particularly when compared to the two great mythical victories identified above.

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