Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Attica, the country that for nearly a century held the first place amongst the states of ancient Greece, occupied a triangular promontory south of Boeotia and east of Megaris, having the AEgean Sea to the east and the Saronic Gulf to the south-west. The name is probably connected with acte, shore. The surface is rugged, the ranges of Cithaeron and Parnes making a barrier to the north, whilst Pentelicus, Hymettus, and Laurius, famed for silver mines, spread over a large proportion of the interior. Elatea and Oxea, the highest peaks, attain about 4,600 feet. The intervening plains produce some cereals, but are especially fertile in olives and figs. Much of the soil, however, is thin and poor. Besides affording pasture for sheep, goats, and cattle, the uplands, especially of Hymettus, were famous for honey. The two chief rivers are the Cephissus and the Ilissus, but smaller streams are abundant. The climate is warm, dry, and bright. The manner in which the scattered townships and clans of this peninsula were welded together so as to form a distinctive State must remain a subject of conjecture. The names of Cecrops, Erechtheus, and Theseus are inseparably connected with this period of Attic history, but nothing trustworthy can be ascertained. We find that early in the seventh century B.C. the country was occupied by Ionian Greeks, governed on oligarchical principles by archons, a senate or boule (Areopagus), having Athens for a centre, and organised into four tribes (phylai), each containing three Phratries (phratriai), and ninety Gentes (gene), the Gens consisting of thirty families. Locally the country was divided into townships (demoi), which first obtained political importance under Cleisthenes, and politically (probably at a later date) into Naucraries (naucrariai). The tribes and naucraries had their prytanes or headmen. How this primitive organisation developed into a democracy, how the popular assembly (ecclcsia) gradually acquired supreme control of affairs, and how the constitution was modified by the successive reforms of Draco, Solon, Cleisthenes, Pericles, and Ephialtes, will be found described under the heads of Athens and of the above-named statesmen. Attica in the earliest historical times must have had a population of 10,000. In the height of Athenian prosperity this total probably increased to something approaching half-a-million, the large majority of whom were slaves. Apart from artificial classifications the inhabitants fell naturally under three orders - the Pedieis or wealthy landowners of the plains round Athens, the Parali or dwellers on the southern coast, and the Diacrii or poor mountaineers of the eastern or northern cantons. The interests of these sections were often opposed, and under local leaders such intestine struggles affected the early development of the commonwealth. Attica, on the reassertion of Greek independence in 1821, suffered severely, and in the newly-constituted kingdom was united with Boeotia to form a single monarchy.