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This article concerns the Classical judicial body. For the 16th century literary movement, see Areopagus (poetry).

The Areopagus or Areios Pagos (Greek Ἄρειος Πᾶγος) is the 'Hill of Ares', north-west of the Acropolis, which in classical times functioned as the chief homicide court of Athens. Ares was supposed to have been tried here by the Gods for the murder of Poseidon's son Alirrothios (a typical example of an aetiological myth). In The Eumenides of Aeschylus (458), the Areopagus is the site of the trial of Orestes for killing his mother (Clytemnestra) and her lover (Aegisthus).

The origin of its name is not clear. In Greek pagos means big piece of rock. Areios could have come from Ares or from the Erinyes, as on its foot was erected a temple dedicated to the Erinyes where murderers used to find shelter so as not to face the consequences of their actions.

Near the Areopagus was also constructed the basilica of Dionysius Areopagites.

In pre-classical times (before the 5th century BC), the Areopagus was the council of elders of the city, similar to the Roman Senate. Like the Senate, its membership was restricted to those who had held high public office, in this case that of Archon. In 462 BC, Ephialtes put through reforms which deprived the Areopagus of almost all its functions except that of a murder tribunal in favor of Heliaia.

In an unusual development, the Areopagus acquired a new function in the 4th century BC, investigating corruption, although conviction powers remained with the Ecclesia.

The Areopagus, like most city-state institutions, continued to function in Roman times, and it was at that location that the Apostle Paul delivered the famous 'What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you' speech, after seeing an altar 'to the Unknown God'.

The term "Areopagus" also refers to the judicial body of aristocratic origin, the power of which was enhanced by Solon, or the higher court of Greece.

[edit] External links

  • Acts 17:16-34 A Biblical account of St. Paul discussing with the Areopagus the nature of the Christian God. Also referred to is the story concerning the altar to "The Unknown God." See also:

el:Άρειος Πάγος es:Areópago fr:Aréopage nl:Areopaag ja:アレオパゴス会議 no:Areopagus pl:Areopag pt:Areópago ru:Ареопаг fi:Areiopagi sv:Areopagen


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