published 3.21.2019

Simon Critchley’s Athens in Pieces: We Know Socrates’ Fate. What’s Ours? in The New York Times

by Simon Critchley

This is the sixth installment in an eight-part philosophical tour of the ancient city by the author. The entire series can be found here.

ATHENS — Since we began our little tour I have tried to take you to some of the less obvious sites around the ancient city, often at the periphery. But now I want to head right to the center of it: the Agora. This was a large public square, humming with human activity — shopping, gossip, dramatic performances, military and religious processions — and surrounded on all sides by buildings, including many of the key institutions of Athenian democracy.

Excavations since the 1930s have uncovered the Agora, an open green area, about 30 acres sloping down northwest from the rock of the Acropolis. What I most like about it is its feeling of space, the sense of absence that triggers the imagination and allows one to conjure the ruined city in the mind’s eye.

The reason for coming here on this particular day was entirely selfish: It was my birthday and I wanted to return to my favorite site in Athens and visit the ruins of the house of the source of my name: Simon the Cobbler. He also pretended to be a philosopher of sorts.

Read the full article here