What Would Your Job Be in Ancient Athens?

By: Zoe Samuel

What Would Your Job Be in Ancient Athens?
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Ancient Athens was the crucible out of which western democracy, western philosophy, and the foundations of mythological story structure came from. Ancient Greece gave us the myths of Homer, the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, the generals Alexander and Ptolemy, and the system we call direct democracy. Athens sat in the center of all of this, shaping the destiny of Greece, and civilizing their culture, making it more like modern Brussels, and less like ancient Sparta.

The ancient Greeks had many jobs we would recognize today, as well as some we would be horrified by. Due to the lack of mechanization in the ancient world, the ancient Greeks kept slaves, relied on human power for their construction projects, and lost many men and women in war. 

Athens was the most cosmopolitan of all the Greek city-states, and while it was militarily powerful, that was mostly due to its excellent navy. The most famous Greek warriors like Alexander of Macedonia and Leonidas of Sparta were not Athenian. The one military force known to be Athenian was the Athenian Navy, which was as much responsible for repelling Xerxes as King Leonidas and his 300 Spartan soldiers.

We have a few questions for you, and when you finish it, we'll inscribe your curriculum vitae (sorry for the Latin) in clay and hand deliver it to the Athenian ancient employment bureau to see where you'll fit in.

How organized are you?
Extremely.
Not at all.
Very organized.
More or less.

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How good is your reading comprehension?
Not great.
Excellent.
Terrible.
Above average.

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Do you work well in challenging environments?
Sometimes.
Not at all.
Yes! I love a challenge.
Only if the challenges are of a social nature.

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Do you have the gift of gab?
Not really.
Yes, but it's not my strong suit.
Nope.
Why as a matter of fact, I do!

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Do you work well as part of a team?
Yes! There's an I in 'team,' and it's me!
No, I need to be alone.
Yes, so long as we're all singing from the same hymnal.
You mean like a party? Sure.

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Are you good at communicating complex ideas?
Not even a little.
That's my forte.
Only if it's technical.
Yes, especially when they are not true.

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Can you sing?
A little.
Singing is for fools.
Sure can!
Not really.

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How ruthless are you?
Not even a little.
A man is as ruthless as needs must.
About average.
Totally, like a shark.

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Are you a good manager?
Yep.
No, I can barely dress myself.
If I have to.
I'm an even better ruler.

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Do you mind living in poverty?
I'd like to at least own a house.
Oooh! That sounds so... Bohemian!
Nah, I need three square a day.
Yes. Give me wealth or give me death.

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How are you with languages?
Not good.
Fairly proficient.
About average.
Excellent.

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How well-informed are you?
I know the local news.
I read a lot about the goings-on in the world.
Not well. I only read the sports section.
I'm on top of everything.

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Do you mind having to pay your dues for a long time?
Nope, I will work like a dog!
I've paid my dues. I just want to be able to do my thing.
We all pay our dues, so I'm up for it.
No, I prefer nepotism.

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How good are you with children?
I'm friendly with them when I need to be.
I'm a good teacher.
Life is hard and childhood should be short.
I'm no good with them.

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Are you good at memorizing technical things?
Not really.
Only if I have time to really work them out on paper.
Yes, absolutely.
Only the law.

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Do you cut an imposing profile?
Not at all.
I'm a bit of a Hobbit.
I'm in decent shape, but I'm not pretty.
I look like a leader.

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How well can you cope with long hours?
I love long hours.
I spend all hours in contemplation.
Sometimes you just have to keep your nose to the grindstone I guess.
Work? That's for the little grubby people.

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Do you mind if you get blamed for all of society's ills?
Aren't I already?
I don't mind.
Yeah, I'd need to get out of town.
I mind very much, and would rather it be someone else.

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How athletic are you?
I'm pretty mobile.
I'm woefully out of shape.
I'm in great shape.
I look stronger than I am.

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How well-connected are you?
I am not connected at all.
I know a couple of people.
I know people in low places.
I know people in high places.

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How friendly are you?
Very!
I'm taciturn and rude.
I'm a little brusque.
When I talk to you, you feel like you're the only person in the world.

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How stoic are you?
I guess as much as I have to be?
Trick question! The Stoics didn't exist yet!
Stoicism is at the heart of hard work.
I can be as stoic as the people think I should be.

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How brave are you?
Oh, gods! Not in the face!
I'm pretty brave since bravery is all about facing a fear.
I have no fear.
I'm a total coward.

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How ambitious are you?
I have no ambition.
I have crushed down my ambition into oblivion. I am nothing, and I am everything.
I just want to have a regular income.
I have a towering ambition.

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How likely are you to learn new skills in order to stay in a job?
I'll do whatever I need to to keep my job. I need my job!
No, I have no need of skills.
In my line of work, you're always learning new knots.
Who needs skills when you've got me?

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How open-minded are you?
I don't know what that means.
I'm nothing if not open-minded.
I've seen all types of people, so I expect anything.
Open-minded? Do I look like a sucker to you?

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How tough are you?
I can take some punishment.
I've lived a rough life.
I can stand harsh conditions.
Sticks and stones will break my bones so don't hit me with any of those! Please!

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Are you in it for the long haul?
I guess...
We are all specks of dust in the eye of oblivion.
Hey, I'm just saving up for a few years and then I'm gonna retire.
I will be buried with all my wealth and power!

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How exciting do you want your life to be?
Not at all exciting.
Life is always exciting.
I want it to be predictable.
I only want my pleasures to be exciting.

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If things went badly, how would you think about it?
I guess things just happen sometimes.
I'd be philosophical about it.
I'd be fairly upset.
I'd probably be killed.

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