The Areopagus or Ares' Rock was a rock northwest of the Acropolis that was used as a court of law for trying homicide cases. The etiological myth says that Ares was tried there for the murder of Poseidon's son Halirrhothios.
"Agraulos ... and Ares had a daughter Alkippe. As Halirrhothios, son of Poseidon and a nymphe named Eurtye, was trying to rape Alkippe, Ares caught him at it and slew him. Poseidon had Ares tried on the Areopagos with the twelve gods presiding. Ares was acquitted."
- Apollodorus, The Library 3.180
In another mythological figure, the people of Mycenae sent Orestes to the Areopagus to stand trial for the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra, murderer of his father, Agamemnon.
In historical times, the powers of the archons, the men who presided at the court, waxed and waned. One of the men credited with creating radical democracy in Athens, Ephialtes, was instrumental in removing much of the power the aristocratic archons held.
More on the Areopagus
- Fast Facts About Ancient Greece
- Topography of Ancient Athens
- The Long Walls and the Piraeus
- Fast Facts About the Greek Colonies
Image: CC Flickr User KiltBear (AJ Alfieri-Crispin)