The Myth of the Ionian Agora: Investigating the Enclosure of Greek Public Space through Archaeological and Historical Sources

by Christopher P. Dickenson

Hesperia, Volume 88, Issue 3
Page(s): 557-593
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2972/hesperia.88.3.0557
Year: 2019


Pausanias famously compared the loose arrangement of stoas in the agora of Elis to the more formalized plan that he associated with Ionia. Modern scholars have assumed that the “Ionian agora” was therefore a specific type of public square. Classifying agoras by type has supported the interpretation that the enclosure of agoras by stoas in Hellenistic and Roman times is symptomatic of civic decline. This article argues that the Ionian agora is a modern construction and makes the case for a new approach to agora enclosure that takes more account of how the Greeks used and experienced their public squares over time.