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In Classical Athens, what did the portico of the archon basileus look like?

In Classical Athens, what did the portico of the archon basileus look like?

In Plato's Euthyphro, Socrates and his titular interlocutor meet at the portico of the archon basileus - or chief archon. I've been looking for an image of the portico but had no luck so far, and am not entirely sure how else to proceed.

Has the portico been preserved, and are there images of it? If not, are there credible descriptions of it or inferences we can make from similar buildings that have survived? I'm trying to get a mental (or even better, literal) picture of the setting of the dialogue.


There's a model of the Stoa Basileios (or Royal Stoa), seat of the archon basileus, at the end of 5th century BC on the site of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). This is close to the date (399 BC) that Plato's Euthyphro took place.

"Model of the Royal Stoa at the end of 5th c. B.C. with the addition of the annexes. Model realised by Petros Demetriades and Kostas Papoulias. Agora Museum, Athens." Image & text source: American School of Classical Studies

There is also a description and some photos of the ruins at Agora Monument: Royal Stoa.

The building is small for a stoa, only 18 meters long, with eight Doric columns across the front and four down the middle (Fig. 64) [see photo below]. It should date originally to the years around 500 B.C., but was extensively rebuilt in the 5th century. Two projecting wings were added between 410 and 400 to display new copies of the law code of the city.

Image source: American School of Classical Studies agora.ascsa.net

Unlike many public buildings, the Royal Stoa "had simple floors of packed clay".

The map below shows the location of the Royal Stoa in relation to other buildings at the end of the 5th century BC (top centre-left, between the Stoa of Zeus and the Poikile Stoa.

Image source: American School of Classical Studies agora.ascsa.net

The 3D image below shows an earlier time, before the wings were added, but gives an idea of what Socrates and Euthyphro might have seen (minus all the people who would have been going about their business). The Royal or Basileios Stoa is centre far-right (1).

"The Agora during the 5th century BCE: 1. Basileios Stoa, 2.Stoa of Zeus Eleutherios, 3. Temple of Hephaestus, 4. New Bouleuterion, 5. Old Bouleuterion, 6. Tholos, 7. Eponymous Heroes monument, 8. Aiakeion, 9. South Stoa I, 10. Southeast fountain house, 11. The Mint, 12. Courts, 13. Stoa Poikile." Number 14 is the Altar of the Twelve Gods. Image source and quoted text: Ancient Athens 3D


The 1986 article in The Classical Journal, Vol. 81, No. 2, The Portico of the Archon Basileus: On the Significance of the Setting of Plato's "Euthyphro" should also be of interest.