Areopagus Hill is a historic hunk of rock found in Athens near the entrance to the Acropolis and just above the site of the Ancient
Agora. Aereopagus in Athens was once a classical
homicide court, a pre-classical meeting ground for city
elders and the site where the Apostle Paul delivered his
famous speech to the Athenians. The name of the
rock remains unclear, but "pagos" in Greek
refers to a big rock, and it is thought that "Areo"
was derived from either Ares or the Erinyes.
Allegedly, the Erinyes existed in Greek Mythology to exact punishment on those who broke any of the "natural laws" that man was otherwise unfit to appropriately punish. The Erinyes are tied to Areopagus Hill through their persecution of Orestes, who killed his mother. His mother had killed his father and Orestes was then persuaded by both his sister and the god Apollo to avenge his his father's death. He would be called to trial at Areopagus in Athens. The Erinyes, who continued to assail his conscience as punishment for his act, had driven Orestes somewhat mad. However, the court at Areopagus Hill would acquit him, and the Erinyes would be converted to the kinder Eumenides. Athena relegated them to a cave on the rock. The name Areopagus may refer to the Erinyes, and mean "Hill of Curses".
The Areopagus Athens rock is often referred to as the Hill of Ares, as it was the Greek god of war who is believed to have been the first tried at Aereopagus Hill. Ares was put on trial for killing the son of Poseidon, who had attacked and violated his sister. Poseidon, obviously angered at the murder of his son, called for a murder trial for Ares at Areopagus in Athens. A tribunal was formed by fellow Olympian gods who eventually would rule in favor of Ares. Thus the name, Hill of Ares. Regardless of legends and tall tales, there was an actual court held at Areopagus Hill that lasted from around the 7th century BC until Roman times. Primarily, those who were put on trial on the hill had been convicted of murder.
The Hill of Areopagus is then often associated with St. Paul, who in 52 AD supposedly preached the Christian message to the Athenians from atop the rock. Upon arriving in Athens, Paul had noticed that the Athenian people seemed to have an array of gods, and that they worshipped false idols. The Athenians had even erected an altar to an Unknown God, just in case they had left the possible true god out. St. Paul, having witnessed this altar, referenced it as a false god in his speech. His attempt to convert the masses to Christianity that day predominantly failed. But, St. Paul did manage to convert two souls that day, one being a woman by the name of Damaris, the other being Dionysios Aereopagitis. Dionysios Aereopagitis would eventually be named the patron saint of Athens, and his name could well be the origin of the rock's name.
It is often popular among couples to climb the rock
of Areopagus in Athens right around sunset to cuddle and
perhaps share a bottle of wine. During the day people
can be found climbing all over the rock, perhaps imitating
Paul as he delivered his religious message. There
are metal steps built on Areopagus Hill to help you get
up and down, and there is a plaque commemorating part
of Paul's speech. Take time to visit this
rock as you explore nearby sites, such as the Tower
of the Winds and the Odeon
of Herodes Atticus. The whole Acropolis area
and nearby Plaka neighborhood make for many satisfying
days of sightseeing
in Athens. You will find plenty of ancient sites
in the area, as well as some of the best Athens
shopping nearby at the Plaka
market and Ermou Street. Heading east on Ermou
will take you right to Syntagma
Square, from which you can continue to access some
of the city's best attractions.