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The Council of the Areopagus 

Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of January 26, 2003

page 5 of 21

· Meeting Places in the 4th c. ·

Read about the evidence
Demosthenes (Dem. 23).
Isocrates (Isoc. 7).
Demosthenes (Dem. 25).

The Council of the Areopagus met generally on the Areopagus, the Hill of Ares (Dem. 23.65-66; Isoc. 7.38). Demosthenes mentions the body also meeting in the Stoa Basileus in the Agora, which was roped off for the occasion, so the court would not be disturbed (Dem. 25.23).

Read about the evidence
Aristotle (Aristot. Ath. Pol.).

But the Hill of Ares was its proper meeting place, and that location was rich in symbolic importance. A 4th century inscription records a law that seems aimed at preventing the overthrow of the Athenian democracy. It says that, “If the People or the democracy at Athens are overthrown, no member of the Council of the Areopagus shall go up to the Areopagus or meet in the Council or discuss any single thing” (SEG 12 87). This suggests two things. First, the site of the Hill of Ares lent legitimacy to whatever went on there—and so the authors of this law wanted to deny that meeting place to any government that followed the overthrow of the democracy. Second, the law suggests that the members of the Council of the Areopagus were assumed to be people of great authority—and so the authors of this law wanted to prevent them from exercising that authority after the overthrow of the democracy. Aristotle says that, at least when the Areopagus was acting in its role as a murder court, it met “in the sacred precinct, in the open air” (ἐν ἱερῷ καὶ ὑπαίθριοι) (Aristot. Ath. Pol. 57.4).

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page 5 of 21