Choose other city guides
Famous People from Athens
(469 BC - 399 BC )
O my friend why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honour and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all?
Among the three major Athenian thinkers, Socrates was the first, being followed by Plato and Aristotle. Socrates would discuss philosophical questions with anyone who was willing. He often asked the question: “How should men live their lives,” with the purpose of teaching people to consider the answer for themselves, rather than instructing them how to think. This is now called the Socratic Method. Before long he assembled a group of young disciples. Convicted of corrupting the youth and impiety, Socrates was sentenced to death and he was executed. Though he never wrote down any of his thoughts, his pupil, Plato, recorded some of what his master said in ‘The Apology’, ‘The Euthyphro’, ‘The Crito’ and ‘The Phaedo’.
(427 BC - 347 BC )
This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are.
Plato was one of the most famous Athenian philosophers and a pupil of Socrates; it is only through Plato’s writings that we know the thoughts and ideas of Socrates. He remains famous as an author of numerous dialogues and for his analogy of ‘the cave’. Most likely born to a family of Athenian nobles, he served in the army and fought in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta. Afterwards, before he met Socrates, he received an education in grammar, music, gymnastics and above all, philosophy. Later in life, he enjoyed accompanying Socrates in excursions to the city's public places to lead discussions with randomly met people. When Socrates was executed in 399 B.C., Plato decided to write down his master’s philosophical beliefs. He travelled around the Mediterranean, visiting Italy and Egypt. Upon his return to Athens in 388 B.C., he founded his own Academy. Plato's most significant ideas on power hierarchy and the state are represented in such works as ‘The Republic’ and ‘Laws’. In his ‘Theory of Forms’, Plato formulated his solution to the problem of universals.
(384 BC - 322 BC )
The complete account of Aristotle's work in the fields of science and philosophy is nearly impossible to summarise. He was the first thinker whose philosophy centred around the idea that everything that changes or moves is forced to change or move by another thing, and he is believed to have authored as many as 150 philosophical papers. Out of these, only 30 survive to this day. They cover a vast range of philosophical issues such as biology, poetics, physics, rhetoric, morals, mathematics, aesthetics, logic, politics and dreams. Aristotle's treatises on animals, in which he examines more than 500 species, are abundant with perceptions that were verified only many centuries later – for instance, he separated dolphins and whales from fish and characterized the social organisation of bees as well as the embryological development of a chick.
(480/485 BC - 406 BC )
Euripides was the youngest of the three leading Greek tragedians (followed by Aeschylus and Sophocles), and although a brilliant dramatist, it was only after his death that his greatness was fully realised. A supreme observer of human character, Euripides is hailed as the father of psychological drama. Unfortunately, only eighteen of his ninety tragedies survive in full form and they include: ‘The Bacchae’, ‘Medea’, ‘Electra’, ‘Orestes’, ‘Hippolytus’ and ‘The Trojan Women’. ‘The Bacchae’, in particular, is Euripides at the height of his creativity. Powerful, petrifying and tangled, the play leaves the spectator with an abundance of disturbing and unanswered questions.
Hippocrates of Chios
(470 BC - 410 BC )
Regarded by many as the most prominent mathematician of the 5th Century B.C., Hippocrates of Chios worked towards solving the noticeable geometrical problems of his time such as duplicating the cube and squaring the circle. In addition to his fame for the arrangement of theorems in a logical manner and squaring three of the four lunes, he also gave us the first known construction for the trisection of an angle. He was able to prove that the ratio of the areas of two circles was equal to the ratio of the squares of their radii. Hippocrates of Chios included much of his geometrical knowledge in the first maths textbook titled ‘Elements of Geometry’ (it is no longer in existence). Euclid is thought to have used it as a basis for his ‘Books I’ and ‘II’ over a hundred years later.
(1920-10-18 - 1994-03-06 )
In many ways Athens is like an ugly woman but like so many ugly women she has lots of charm.
Born in Athens, Melina Mercouri became famous as a singer and actress. Her career as a film star was launched with her role in the 1955 film ‘Stella’, and she later appeared in ‘Never on Sunday’ (1960), ‘Phadra’ (1962), ‘Topkapi’ (1964) and ‘Summer’ (1966), to name just a few. In 1971, she wrote her autobiography, ‘I Was Born Greek’. Mercouri voiced her opposition against the dictatorship in Greece and was exiled, but after democracy was established, she returned and was elected to the Greek Parliament in 1977. She became the first woman to be appointed Minister of Culture in the history of Greece and she held the position for ten years. When she died of lung cancer in 1994, the entire nation grieved.
(1955-12-12 - )
Billions of people are finally beginning to learn what Greeks already know – that we are a modern, dynamic, efficient nation, ready for any challenge, and able to play a larger role in our region and in the world.
This Greek politician and businesswoman has gained international recognition as the president of the committee for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. According to 'Forbes' magazine, she is among the 50 Most Powerful Women in the World. Born in Heraklion, Crete to a work-class family, she motivated herself and went to study law at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. From the late 1980s, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was involved in the politics in Athens and performed the duties of a municipal councillor, and later became a Member of Parliament. After she married in 1990 to the shipping magnate, Theodore Angelopoulos, she started to work in the shipping business. Chosen as president of the Bidding Committee, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was successful in bringing the Olympics to Athens. Subsequently, she was also responsible for completing all preparations prior to the opening ceremony. Being popular in her country, she also faces some criticism. In 1998, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was appointed Ambassador at Large by the Greek government.
George I of Greece
(1845-12-24 - 1913-03-18 )
Born as a Danish prince in Copenhagen, George I served in the Royal Danish Navy until, at age 17, he was elected King of Greece (1863 –1913). He was the second son of King Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel and was originally known as Prince Vilhelm (Prince William). On March 18, 1863, following the deposition of King Otto, George was elected by the Greek National Assembly as a new monarch. Young George I of the Hellenes quickly learned Greek, and he was frequently seen in the streets of Athens. During his reign a constitutional monarchy was established, while Greece significantly expanded its territory. In 1867, in St Petersburg, he married Olga Konstantinovna of Russia. The royal couple had eight children, with first-born Constantine I being the successor. King George's 50-year reign ended with an assassination in Thessaloniki during the First Balkan War.