Those guilty of treason, murder, or parental mistreatment, as well as cowards, were formally barred from the agora, which was understood to be the heart of the community. Although Athena does not figure prominently in the agora, perhaps because her worship dominated the Acropolis above the city, a wide variety of other gods and goddesses were worshipped in the agora, both as patrons of particular groups and as guardians of the entire city.
The Sacred Way entered the agora in the northwest corner, crossing to the southeast before climbing to the acropolis. Nearby, a number of small shrines have come to light. The Altar of the Twelve Gods was located here. All distances from Athens were measured from this point. A small crossroads enclosure nearby has yielded hundreds of minor offerings and dedications. Perhaps those entering the agora made a small offering as they passed by.
An altar of Heavenly Aphrodite has recently been excavated in the same corner of the agora. Apollo was worshipped in the agora. He was believed to have saved Athens from the plague at the time of the Peloponnesian War, although his cult may have preceded that. Zeus was worshipped as Eleutherios, “the Liberator,” and Euboulaios, “Good Counselor.” Later, in Roman times, a temple of Ares was moved from rural Attica to the agora, and a number of other altars and temples were either imported or built anew for the agora. Unfortunately, many of these were placed in what was formerly the open space of the agora. Under the Romans, the heart of the ancient city