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The Pnyx

perikles speech at the pnyka


The Pnyx from its position, and its openness, supplied the Athenian Orator with sources of eloquence influencing himself, and with objects of appeal acting on his audience, which no other place of a similar import, not even the Roman Forum, has ever paralleled in number or interest. First, the Athenian Orator standing on the Bema of the Pnyx had the Natural Elements at his service. The Sky of Attica was over his head, the Soil of Attica beneath his feet, and the Sea of Attica behind him. Appeals to the Ruling Powers of these elements in other places might be vague and unmeaning, but here they were almost endued with life. Here, without any unnatural constraint, he could fetch the Deities from those elements, and place them on the platform before him. They would appear to answer his call, not like stage-deities, let down ex machinâ, but as stepping spontaneously from the place in which they were believed to dwell. There must have been something inexpressibly solemn in the ejaculation Ω Γη και Θεοι! O Earth and Gods! uttered in his most sublime periods by Demosthenes in this place.

— Christopher Wordsworth in Athens and Attica: Notes of a Tour, 3rd Ed p. 55