The analysis to follow attempts to draw from the design of squares inferences about their role. This approach is open to objection. People do not always behave as architects and planners would have them. Thus on the planned high-rise estates of the 1960s (AD) spaces envisaged by their architects as friendly, communal, social areas, are today said to be stalked by crime and violence, and shunned by residents. In a similar vein note that important assemblies can gather in any open space, it need not be enclosed by walls or clearly demarcated within a town (though the Homeric agora, as it happens, was quite formalized, see Wees 1992: 29, and agoras of the 8'*' century BC have been recognised at Megara Hyblaia and Dreros, see Vallet 1973 and de Polignac 1995: 8-11). In response I would say that here the theme is not the everyday interaction of individuals, but the meeting of ruler and ruled, always a formal occasion, and usually one that is stage-managed. To anticipate, the Mycenaean courts were the result of an evolution, which shaped them to their end, and they were an expression of a self-conscious idiom aimed at providing an architectural set for the exercise of power.
As a means of broaching the question it is proposed to look at the following characteristics:
These terms are jargon and require some attempt to turn them into English. Access raises the question of how easy or difficult it might be for an individual fo enter the court. Thus Wright (1994; cf. Kilian 1987a, 28 'Megaron als Endglied einer architektonis-chen Steigerungskette') has emphasized 'centredness' as an organising principle in Mycenaean settlement form, and the importance of monumental entrances marking a progress through a series of boundaries to the innermost seat of authority. Size can set a limit to the capacity of a square and reflects its monumentality. Orientation and focus are characteristics of the shape and sense of direction given to the space. Is it broad, or long and narrow? Is it directed towards an obvious focal point? Visibility and perspective mean, in the first place, is someone standing in the space easily seen by others, and in the second, does someone standing in the space have a clear view of their surroundings. Appointment can include furnishings, such as an altar or a podium, and decoration, such as painted plaster. Frontage refers to the buildings which look onto the space.