Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
A Summary of: The Council of the Areopagus
Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of January 26, 2003
Plot on a Map
The Areopagus, or “Hill of Ares” (Ἀρεῖος πάγος), in Athens was the site of a council that served as an important legal institution under the Athenian democracy. This body, called the “Council of the Areopagus,” or simply the “Areopagus,” existed long before the democracy, and its powers and composition changed many times over the centuries. Originally, it was the central governing body of Athens, but under the democracy, it was a primarily the court with jurisdiction over cases of homicide and certain other serious crimes. After an Athenian had served as one of the nine archons, his conduct in office was investigated, and if he passed that investigation he became a member of the Areopagus. Tenure was for life.