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English Bible Dictionary

Mars Hill

 

The hill of Mars or Ares, better known by the name of Areopagus, of which hill of Mars or Ares is a translation. The Areopagus was a rocky height in Athens, opposite the western end of the Acropolis. It rises gradually from the northern end, and terminates abruptly on the south, over against the Acropolis, at which point it is about fifty or sixty feet above the valley. The spot is memorable as the place of meeting of the Council of Areopagus. This body existed as a criminal tribunal before the time of Solon, and was the most ancient and venerable of all the Athenian courts. It consisted of all persons who had held the office of archon, and who were members of the council for life unless expelled for misconduct, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. Before the time of Solon the court tried only cases of willful murder, wounding, poison, and arson: but he gave it extensive powers of a censorial and political nature. The council continued to exist even under the Roman emperors. Its meetings were held on the southeastern summit of the rock. The Areopagus possesses peculiar interest to the Christian as the spot from which St. Paul delivered his memorable address to the men of Athens. (Acts 17:22-31) St. Paul "disputed daily" in the "market" or agora, (Acts 17:17) which was situated south of the Areopagus in the valley lying between this and the hills of the Acropolis, the Pnyx and the Museum. Attracting more and more attention, "certain philosophers of the Epicureans and Stoics" brought him up from the valley, probably by the stone steps, to the Areopagus above, that they might listen to him more conveniently.

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