(Ar·e·opʹa·gus) [Hill of Ares; Mars’ Hill].
A hill to the NW of the towering Athenian Acropolis, separated from it by a shallow valley. This rather narrow, barren ridge of limestone is 113 m (370 ft) high, and the Acropolis to its SE rises another 43 m (141 ft) higher. The approach to Mars’ Hill is gentle from the N; on the S it is abrupt. Crowning this hill at one time were Grecian altars, temple sanctuaries, statues, and the open-air supreme court of the Areopagus. Today all of this is gone, and only a few of the benchlike seats carved in the rock remain.
On one of the apostle Paul’s visits to Athens, certain Athenians laid hold of him and led him to the Areopagus, saying: “Can we get to know what this new teaching is which is spoken by you? For you are introducing some things that are strange to our ears.” (Ac 17:19, 20) In reply Paul carefully laid one solid fact upon another, building up as he went along, a logical, persuasive, and convincing argument. Paul did not complete his speech, for “when they heard of a resurrection of the dead” mockers began to jeer. However, by the time this interruption came, the apostle had succeeded in splitting his audience three ways in their opinions. While some mocked, and some said they would hear more later, others “became believers, among whom also were Dionysius, a judge of the court of the Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, and others besides them.” (Ac 17:22-34) Today a bronze plaque on Mars’ Hill commemorating the event contains this speech of the apostle Paul. It cannot be stated for a certainty that Paul spoke on that occasion before the court of the Areopagus, but he did have at least one member of that noted court in his audience.—PICTURE, Vol. 2, p. 746.
[Picture on page 162]
Greek plaque memorializing Paul’s speech on the Areopagus (Ac 17:22-31)