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Benefactions by Cimon and his family

Cimon,1 an aristocratic and wealthy man, gained great fame for his costly benefactions to his fellow citizens. He was renowned, for example, for opening his orchards to let others pick whatever they wanted,2 but his most famous benefactions were architectural. He paid to have landscaping with shade trees and running tracks installed in open areas of Athens, and he also footed the enormous bill for the construction of footings for defensive walls3 to link the urban center of Athens and the harbor at Piraeus4 some seven kilometers away. Cimon's brother-in-law also participated in the family tradition of benefiting Athens by paying for highly-visible public building projects. He had built as a gift to the city the renowned Painted Stoa. 5 Stoas were narrow, colonnaded buildings open along one side, whose purpose was to provide shelter from sun or rain for these conversations. The Painted Stoa stood on the edge of the central open area, 6 the agora, at the center of the city. The agora served both as a market area where merchants could set up small stalls and as a gathering place for Athenian men to discuss politics and every other issue affecting their lives in the city-state. It was the commercial and social heart of Athens. The crowds of men who came to the agora daily for conversation would cluster inside the Painted Stoa7, whose walls were decorated with paintings of great moments in Greek history commissioned from the most famous painters of the time, Polygnotus and Mikon. That one of the stoa's paintings portrayed the battle of Marathon in which Cimon's father, Miltiades, had won glory was only appropriate, since the building had been paid for by the husband of Cimon's sister, probably with financial assistance from Cimon himself.

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