In the late fifth century BC, Athens' prosperity was a magnet for ambitious teachers, and increasingly for students also. They came to experience and acquire the Athenian culture, the mark of "civilised" humanity. At Athens they could sample many teachers: experts in history, poetry, cosmology, persuasive speech, mathematical sciences and theology, and in the fiercely contested fields of statecraft and philosophy. But the city offered more than this. Besides its great works of visual art and architecture, its gynasia and other meeting places, and a cosmopolitan international port, there were regular public fesitvals involving artistic display and competition. The unique democratic governance of the city meant a daily diet of political questions and arguments in the courts, council and assembly: for foreign visitors, constant materal for discussion: for the Athenian citizens themselves, a participatory forum of "hands-on" learning.
Athens has been synonymous with the life of the intellect, and Athens: A University City tells you just why. It is more than a history of education in terms of cirriculum and shows the position of education and ideas in ancient Athens as a whole, providing an understanding of Athenian intellectual culture across the whole social range, and within its socio-political context.