Location: In front of the Bouleuterion, on the opposite side of the street leading to the Tholos. No 9 in the Agora plan of the Guide: Μc Camp II, J., The Athenian Agora, A Short Guide to the Excavations, Excavations of the Athenian Agora, Picture Book no 16, American School of Classical Studies (Princeton 2003), p. 2 and pp. 24-25.
Date of construction: 3rd quarter of the 4th cent. BC.
Periods of Use: Classical, Hellenistic, Roman
The Monument of the Eponymous Heroes of the Athenian tribes was relocated from its original place, probably under the Middle Stoa, during the 3rd quarter of the 4th cent. BC. It was central to Athenian political life, as this is where decrees and other announcements concerning the tribes were posted.
In 508-507 BC, Cleisthenes reorganized the political system of the city by dividing the citizens into ten groups (tribes). The ten Eponymous Heroes of Athens (one from each tribe) were selected by the Oracle at Delphi among the numerous mythical figures of Attica. The Monument of the Eponymous Heroes is first mentioned in Aristophanes’ Peace (421 BC). This is roughly the date (430 BC) accepted by the excavators as the construction date of the monument discovered under the east part of the Middle Stoa which is considered the predecessor of the monument known to us today.
The Monument of the Eponymous Heroes was excavated by the American School of Classical Studies in 1931 and 1932. In 1951 its peribolos was partially reconstructed. New investigations were conducted in 1967. The monument comprises a fence enclosing an elongated pedestal. Five building phases have been detected in the excavations.
1st Phase

The crepidoma consists of a layer of hard, light grey poros stones arranged so as to form a rectangular measuring 18.40 x 3.68m. The northern narrow side is wider than the southern: 3.68m as compared to 3.56m at the level of the crepidoma. There is also a ground level differential: the absolute height of the crepidoma is 56.350m in the SE, 56.282m in the SE and 56.157m in the SW corner. Only the northwest corner rests on a foundation of pebbles. It remained unchanged throughout the 500 years of the monument’s history. The majority of the crepidoma stones remain in situ. Two stones are missing from the west side, two from the east, and one is missing in the area close to southwest corner. Only the north end of the crepidoma has been destroyed, with two of its three stones smashed.
The blocks have identical dimensions: 1.265-1.286m in length – just one measures 1.317m. Only the three corner blocks are rather smaller, measuring 0.976m, 1.042m and 1.086m. Their width ranges from 0.31 to 0.53m, with their size becoming gradually larger in the north section. These blocks are not connected with clamps, they are just set very close to each other. This feature, and the absence of foundations, brings to mind the Altar of the Twelve Gods.
Square cuttings exist in regular intervals on these blocks, two of which preserve traces of lead used for affixing the marble pilasters. The distance between the centres of the pilasters is 1.27m, which is roughly the length of most of the blocks. Fifteen pilasters were used in the long sides and four in the narrow ones (if we count the corner ones twice). These were made up of poros and bore a deep V-shaped groove running their entire length on their faces. They are slightly tapering and lean gently towards the inside. The corner pilasters were L-shaped, as indicated by the cuttings for setting them on the crepidoma. On their sides there are holes for affixing three wooden parapets which formed a continuous fence without openings.
In total, 15 parts from the pilasters and the coping/crowning survive, which was uninterrupted over the whole length of the peribolos. Pilaster Α 38 has a length of 0.97m, a width 0.289m at its base and 0.298m at its top. Its thickness is 0.21m at its base and 0.205m at its top. Pilaster Α 1377 survives to a lesser height (0.67m). The dimensions of the pilasters are as follows: 1.005m in height, 0.285m in width (at the top) and 0.30m (at the base), with a thickness of 0.205m at the top and 0.21m at the base. The pilasters lean gently towards the inside.
Three parts of the coping/crowning survive in a good condition: Α 3663, Α 194a and Α 2234. At their cross-section, the blocks of the crowning/coping are triangular with vertical extremities (apexes) and were made up of hard poros, like the orthostatai. The height and width of these blocks is 0.24m, and the length of the best preserved is 1.015m. The total height of the fence will have amounted to 1.25m approximately, low enough to allow passers by to lean on the parapet and read the announcements posted on the base of the monument.
Inside the peribolos, at a distance of approximately 0.41m, lies the monument itself. It is symmetrically placed at the centre of the fenced area. It measures 16.64 x 1.87 μ. at its foundation (in all parts of the narrow sides). Along its sides, the distance between the fence’s crepidoma and the monument’s euthenteria is 0.47m. At the south end of the euthenteria, however, the distance is 0.377m, it is shorter by 0.068m.
The foundation comprises two parallel lines of blocks, at a distance of 0.93 from each other, closed up and the edges by a block so as to form a rectangle, the inside of which is filled with earth and stones. The pedestal’s foundations were more carefully crafted than those of the fence.
Of the foundation of the eastern side, five blocks of hard poros survive in situ; they are joined with T-shaped clamps. The blocks measure 1.65m in length, 0.47-0.54m in width and 0.45m in height. Their top is slightly higher than the uppermost layer of the fence’s crepidoma. Over this layer of blocks and sunk by 0.09m (as betokened by wear signs indicating that this section was exposed) was another layer of blocks made up of marble, two blocks of which have survived (Α 3634 and Α 3635). The dimensions of the blocks of the steps were 1.56, 1.68 and 1.70m south to north. The total width of the first step was 1.69m. The blocks were set in their places with joints, with the exception of the central one, which was wedged in between its flanking blocks.
Block Α 3637 survives from the second step. It protrudes by 0.028 over the base of the orthostatai at each side (0.056 in total). The total width of the second step was 0.927m, matching the length of the orthostatai. The width of the step at its first layer was 0.36m and 0.28m at its second one. The rest of the monument has to be inferred: on the abovementioned steps rested orthostatai forming the upper base of the monument. These orthostatai were covered with a white coat of paint on which the announcements concerning the tribes were written with varnish (lists containing the names of men called up for military service, honorary commendations etc.) Each tribe had its own space for the announcements concerning its members under the statue of its Eponymous Hero. Drafts for proposed laws were also posted here, so that citizens could be timely informed of their content before these were brought up for consideration.
Over the orthostatai lay the slabs of the crowning, made up of Pentelic marble, which were used as plinths for the statues of the Eponymous Heroes. Two of these survive. The first one Α 66, of Pentelic marble, (1.05m in length, 1.263m in width and 0.204m in height) was found reused as the cover of a duct. A wide band (14.8m) slightly curves and forms the crowning. It is decorated with a cyma resembling an Ionic one and has an exact parallel in the monument of Lysicrates. The second block, Α 61, has a width of 1.21m and a height of 0.208m, and survives to a length of 0.751m. The crowning, which protruded by 0.168m, was no doubt added to protect the notices written on the orthostatai from the weather.
Block Α 66 bears the letter Κ, i.e. it was the last one of the northern side. Block Α 61 bears the letter Β, i.e. it was the second one from the south. In all there were 20 blocks. The total length of the upper part will have been 15.70m. The crowning will have stood much higher than the eye level of a standing man, as the clamps are visible.
The two corner blocks were larger in length (1.05m), as they carried tripods. A tripod rested on blocks Α and Κ, while the remaining 18 supported the statues of the heroes. Their average length is 0.768m, and Α 61 is shorter by 0.017m (0.751m). During its first phase, which dates roughly to 350 BC, as can be gathered by its comparison with the Altar of the Twelve Gods and other monuments (mainly the Monument of Lysicrates and the Temple of Apollo Patroos), the monument of the Eponymous Heroes featured 10 statues flanked by tripods. The statues indubitably faced the centre of the Agora square and were arranged in regular distances from each other.
According to Pausanias’ testimony, the ten heroes were: Hippothoon, Antiochos, Ajax of Salamis, Leon, Erechtheus, Aigeus, Oineus, Akamas, Cecrops and Pandion. The block Α 61 will probably have supported the statue of Erechtheus or Antiochos. The statues most likely depicted clad, static figures in the posture exhibited in the Doryphoros of Polycleitus. These were probably slightly larger than life-sized statues.
2nd Phase

During this phase the crepidoma of the fence was hewn off, to a length of 0.125m, so as to be flattened in order to accommodate the expansion of the pedestal north and south. Towards the south, the euthenteria of the pedestal was extended by 0.502m. The top of the pedestal was moved towards the fence by 0,9565m in the south and by 1.0245m in the north. The steps, however, were not affected by this expansion and retained their original length. The plinth slabs for the statues were not moved, save for the corner ones, which were shifted outwards by one position. Different, regularly shaped slabs were set in their place, on which the two statues of the new Eponymous Heroes were set: these portrayed the Macedonian kings Antigonus and his son Demetrius Poliorketes.
3rd Phase

The main modification, as indicated by slab Α 66, consists in the removal of the tripod from this spot (Κ) and the addition of a statue of one more Eponymous Hero, that of Ptolemy, king of Egypt (c.220 BC).
4th Phase

Following the destruction of the structure by Sulla’s troops in 86 BC, the city rebuilt the peribolos, albeit in a makeshift way. Only the eastern side retained most of the original poros pilasters. The western section of the monument received new marble orthostatai replacing the ruined ones. These, however, were mostly placed in new positions, at irregular intervals. Only the fourth and the ninth pilaster of the northwest corner were set in the same place as the originals. The reason for this is that some parts of the crowning had been hewn off, and the monument’s architects decided not to leave them unexploited, thus sacrificing the regularity of the distances between the pilasters. The corner pilasters are no longer L-shaped, but rectangular in plan.
Another important alteration during this phase is the abandonment of the continuous corners: the corner pilaster in the southeast was moved back by 0.24m and the northwest one by 0.247m, so that the parapets now rested on the orthostatai and not on other pilasters. This was avoided only in the southwest corner, where the pilaster was moved by 0.132m towards the edge of the crepidoma. No parapet was placed there, and the space was left open to create an entrance. The pilaster next to the southeast corner was moved by 0.242m to the north. The distance between the second and the third pilasters now measured 1.064m. The length of the section removed from the fence now roughly equals the width of the crowning. A door opening was added close to the centre of the east side.
5th Phase

The peribolos is expanded to the south, in order to incorporate a new monument, a pedestal the foundation of which survives; this undoubtedly supported the statue of Emperor Hadrian, who in c.125 AD was proclaimed an Eponymous Hero of the Athenians. This extension measures 2.75m. During the same period, a large section of the east side of the fence is rebuilt, with pilasters and a copping/crowning of Pentelic marble. This is the only part of the peribolos, at its façade, to have been altered substantially. Three marble pilasters survive in situ. Pilaster Α 3633 survives to a height of 1.185m, a width of 0.287m at its base and 0.283m at its top, and has a thickness of 0.24m.
When the south extension is constructed, the corners of the fence remain discontinuous. The height of the fence to the east is greater than that of the poros pilasters in the west. In the first case the height is 1.15m, plus the copping/crowning. The average distance between the centres of the pilasters is 1.27m, but it fluctuates between 1.063 and 1.692m. In general the craftsmanship is rather poor. The groove in the centre of the pilasters is not retained.
The expansion does not affect the pedestal and its crepidoma. It ends at the side of a pedestal, of which only the lower foundation remains, and is composed of two earlier statue bases. The new pilasters had their own foundation, made up of reworked material (a stele and a statue base of 50/49 BC – this used to support the statue of the eponymous archon Demetrios). The pilasters situated in the northwest and northeast corners are moved slightly towards the south, closer to the new monument.

Mc CAMP II, J., The Athenian Agora: A Guide to the Excavation and Museum 4 (Athens 1990)
Μc CAMP II, J., The Athenian Agora, A Short Guide to the Excavations, Excavations of the Athenian Agora, Picture Book no 16, American School of Classical Studies (Princeton 2003), p. 16.
Mc CAMP II, J., Η Αρχαία Αγορά της Αθήνας. Οι Ανασκαφές στην καρδιά της κλασικής πόλης 2 (Αθήνα 2004), pp. 123-127.
ROTROFF, S., ‘An Anonymous Hero in the Athenian Agora’, Hesperia 47 (1978), pp. 196-209.
SHEAR, T.L., ‘The Monument of the Eponymous Heroes in the Athenian Agora’, Hesperia 39 (1970), pp. 145-222, plates 41-58.
THOMPSON, H.A. – WYCHERLEY, R., The Agora of Athens.The American Excavations in the Athenian Agora, vol.XIV, American School of Classical Studies at Athens (Princeton 1972), p. 80ff.
TRAVLOS, J., Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens (Princeton 1971).

Monument of the Eponymous Heroes, Representation in VR environment, Hellenistic period

Monument of the Eponymous Heroes, Representation in VR environment, Roman period

The project "Virtual Reality Digital Collection 'The Ancient Agora of Athens'" has been co-funded in a percentage of 80% by the European Regional Development Fund and in a percentage of 20% by state funds in the framework of the Operational Programme "Information Society" of the 3rd Community Support Framework.

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