(ἀγορά). (1) A word that properly means an assembly of any nature, and is usually employed by Homer for the general assembly of the people. The ἀγορά seems to have been considered an essential part in the constitution of the early Grecian states, since the barbarity and uncivilized condition of the Cyclopes is characterized by their wanting such an assembly. The ἀγορά, though usually convoked by the kingas, for instance, by Telemachus in the absence of his fatherappears to have been also summoned at times by some distinguished chieftain, as, for example, by Achilles before Troy. The king occupied the most important seat in these assemblies, and near him sat the nobles, while the people sat or stood in a circle around them. The power and rights of the people in these assemblies have been the subject of much dispute. Platner, Tittmann, and Nitzsch maintain that the people were allowed to speak and vote; while Heeren and Mller think that the nobles were the only persons who proposed measures, deliberated, and voted, and that the people were only present to hear the debate, and to express their feeling as a body, which expressions might then be noticed by a prince of a mild disposition. The latter view of the question is confirmed by the fact that in no passage in the Odyssey is any one of the people represented as taking part in the discussion; while, in the Iliad, Odysseus inflicts personal chastisement upon Thersites for presuming [figure in text: Plan of a Greek Agora, according to Vitruvius. A, the open court, surrounded by double colonnades and shops; B, the curia; C, the chief temple, also used as a treasury; D, the basilica, or court of justice; E, the tholus, in connection with the other rooms of the prytaneum, c, d.] [p. 44]
to attack the nobles in the ἀγορά. The people appear to have been only called together to hear what had been already agreed upon in the council of the nobles, which is called βουλή and θόωκος, and sometimes even ἀγορά.
Among the Athenians, the proper name for the assembly of the people was ἐκκλησία, and among the Dorians ἁλία. The term ἀγορά was confined at Athens to the assemblies of the phylae and demi. In Crete the original name ἀγορά continued to be applied to the popular assemblies till a late period.
(2) The name ἀγορά was early transferred from the assembly itself to the place in which the assembly was held; and thus it came to be used for the market-place, where goods of all descriptions were bought and sold. The expression ἀγορὰ πλήθουσα, full market, was used to signify the time from morning to noon, that is, from about nine to twelve o'clock.
The agora in Greek cities corresponds to the Roman forum (q.v.). The chief authorities on the subject are Pausanias and Vitruvius. The accompanying plan (after Vitruvius), taken from Hirt's Geschichte der Baukunst (xxi., fig. 1), represents the later form of the agora.
See Boeckh, Econ. of Athens; Leake, Topography of Athens; Krause, Hellas, vol. ii.; Hirt, Lehre d. Gebude d. Griechen und Rmer, chap. v.; Wachsmuth, Hellenische Alterthumskunde; and BeckerGll, Charikles, 4th scene, ii. pp. 177-212.