Mars Hill

In classical times, the Areopagus 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. Another legend states that the hill was the site of the trial of Orestes for killing his stepmother and her lover, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. In pre-classical times (before the 5th century BC), the Areopagus was the council of elders of the city, like the Roman Senate. Like the Senate, its membership derived from 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. Approach to Mars Hill. © Howard Chalkley At the foot of the Areopagus was 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. [images] [Archaeology]

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