The Philopappos Monument, Athens, Greece

August 30, 2019

In Acts 17, when Paul preached at Athens, he was taken to the Areopagus where he was invited to explain what the Athenians called “this new teaching” (Acts 17:16-19). We have previously posted on Paul’s sermon at the Areopagus here and here.

In this post we want to notice one of the many sites you can see while standing atop the Areopagus. Here is the view looking to the southwest.

Hill of Philopappus, Athens Greece. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The Hill of Philopappus is also called Mouseion Hill. Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappus (AD 65-116) was a prince from the Kingdom of Commagene (northern Syria), and a Roman consul and senator, as well as grandson of Antiochos IV. At his death a white Pentelic marble tomb monument was dedicated to him by his sister Julia Babilla and the citizens of Athens. Here is a closer view:

Funerary Monument of Philopappus. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

This of course is just one of many major landmarks in Athens. Near the monument are the remains of a prison where it is claimed that Socrates was imprisoned and died.

Lonely Planet makes this observation regarding this hill:

Inhabited from prehistoric times to the post-Byzantine era, the area was, according to Plutarch, the area where Theseus and the Amazons did battle. In the 4th and 5th centuries BC, defensive fortifications – such as the Themistoclean wall and the Diateichisma – extended over the hill, and some of their remains are still visible. (Lonelyplanet.com).

Click images for larger view.


Emperor Antoninus Pius (r. A.D. 138-161)

August 27, 2019

In going through some of my photos of Athens, Greece, I came across a shot I had taken of a bust of Antoninus Pius.

Antoninus Pius. Reigned A.D. 138-161. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

My priority in the limited writing I’ve done on Roman Emperors has been to deal with those who reigned during A.D. 1st century, i.e., those that intersect with biblical history. For example, click here (“Roman Emperors During the Gospels and Acts) and here (“Emperor Galba: the Year of Four Emperors). But here we offer at least a brief introduction to the life and reign of this 2nd century emperor, Antoninus.

Antoninus Pius was born in A.D. 86 at Lanuvium in Latium. He spent his youth at Lorium, not far from Rome. He married Annia Galeria Faustina. When Lucius Aelius Caesar, Emperor Hadrian’s (r. A.D. 117-138) adoptive son and heir died in January 138, Hadrian then adopted Antoninus, February 25. Antoninus ascended the throne upon Hadrian’s death, July 138.

Michael Grant states that Antoninus’s “deferential attitude” to the Roman senators “prompted them to confer on him the unusual title of ‘Pius’, honouring (sic) his religious and patriotic dutifulness” (The Roman Emperors, 83).

Antoninus Pius. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Regarding the land and people of Judea, Grant writes:

There Antoninus Pius soon modified, without completely abandoning, his predecessor’s [Hadrian] veto on circumcision; that is to say he allowed Jews to circumcise their sons but forbade them to admit converts to the rite, thus weakening Jewish competition with the actively proselytizing Christians. Moreover, the ban debarring Jews from entry into Jerusalem was maintained, and indeed enforced by the construction of a ring of military posts round the city (86).

However, Grant’s last statement above is contradicted by Nigel Rodgers, who stated, “Later, Antoninus Pius (reigned AD138-161) quietly revoked his predecessor’s decree and allowed any Jews, who wished to, to return to the now utterly desolate site of Jerusalem” (Roman Empire, 219).

Interestingly, as emperor, Antoninus never left Italy (Rodger, 35); “Antoninus himself never once left Italy throughout the course of his reign” (Grant.86).

At his death, his adoptive son Marcus Aurelius said, “Remember his qualities so that when your last hour comes your conscience may be as clear as his” (Grant, 88).

Gibbons lavished much praise on the period which included the reign of Antoninus:

If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus. The vast extent of the Roman empire was governed by absolute power, under the guidance of virtue and wisdom. The armies were restrained by the firm but gentle hand of four successive emperors, whose characters and authority commanded involuntary respect. The forms of the civil administration were carefully preserved by Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines, who delighted in the image of liberty, and were pleased with considering themselves as the accountable ministers of the laws. Such princes deserved the honor of restoring the republic, had the Romans of their days been capable of enjoying a rational freedom. (Gibbon, E. (2004). The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. (H. H. Milman, Ed.). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

That kind of praise and honor somehow puts me in mind of Proverbs 21:2: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.”


Athens, cont’d.

March 25, 2015

This morning we visited the Acropolis Museum, opened to the public in 2009.

The Acropolis Museum (Greek: Μουσείο Ακρόπολης, Mouseio Akropolis) is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens (Wikipedia).

You can see archaeological excavations at the entrance to the museum.

Excavations at Entrance to Acropolis Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Excavations at Entrance to Acropolis Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Among the interesting exhibits are the original Caryatids which originally stood as support columns at the Erechtheion on the acropolis.

Original Caryatids at Acropolis Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Original Caryatids at Acropolis Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Yet another exhibit was the Brèal Cup. The inscription reads: “Olympic Games 1896. Marathon trophy donated by Michel Brèal.”

Brèal Cup at Acropolis Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Brèal Cup at Acropolis Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We were able to visit Mars Hill, and there I read Paul’s sermon in Acts 17 to our group. See previous posts here and here.

We had a “bonus” this afternoon, getting to see the changing of the guard at the royal palace.

Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace, Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Changing of the Guard at the Royal Palace, Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Evzones is a special unit of the Hellenic Army, also known as Tsoliades, who guard the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament and the Presidential Mansion. Through the historical movement of Greece, the Evzones have become symbols of bravery and courage for the Greek people. The Presidential Guard, as the unit is now called, was constituted in 1868 and has taken many names through centuries (Guard of the Flag, Royal Guard, etc). The duties of the soldiers are part of a ceremonial nature. Every soldier guards for about an hour, 3 times in total every 48 hours. Throughout these 60 minutes, they have to stand perfectly still until it is time to switch with another guard. During the changing, they work in pairs so they can perfectly coordinate their moves. The steps that the official ceremony requires at the time of changing are carried out in really slow motion to protect their blood circulation after 60 min of immobility. The soldiers of the Presidential Guard are selected according to their height, excellent physical condition and psychological state as well as character and morality, as they follow a hard training before they become part of this honorary unit. The training lasts for one month and includes exercises to keep the body and mind still. Apart from staying still, the soldiers must also not make any face or eye move and must not show any expression. Source: http://www.greeka.com

Tomorrow we are scheduled to leave early for Corinth, then on to Delphi, and from there to Kalambaka as we travel to northern Greece (biblical Macedonia) to “walk in the steps of Paul.” Thanks for following our travels.

Inside


Greetings From Athens Greece

March 24, 2015

My group arrived safely in Athens this afternoon and all of our luggage arrived as well! We are thankful.Newark seems a bit distant now.

Gathering at Newark International. Photo by Donna Keith.

Gathering at Newark International. Photo by Donna Keith.

Everyone was tired following the overnight flight. A good dinner was welcome!

Dinner at Metropolitan_IMG_0171Donna Keith

Dinner at Metropolitan in Athens. Photo by Donna Keith.

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Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Gate in Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

En route to our hotel we saw the Arch of Hadrian, which was constructed in honor of the emperor following the completion of the temple of Zeus. Hadrian  walked through it the arch  to attend the dedication of the temple in AD 131. The western side of the arch has the inscription, “This is Athens, the city of Theseus.”

Tomorrow is scheduled to be an all day tour of Athens. We plan to post photos from our biblical study trip as time (and internet) permit.


View from Roman Forum in Athens Greece

February 10, 2015

Yesterday we had another view down the south side of the acropolis in Athens, Greece. Now we move to the north side, down below the acropolis, to the Roman Forum. In our photo here you can see a portion of the forum, the Tower of the Winds (right), and to your distant left Mount Lykavittos.

Roman Forum, Tower, and Mt. Lykavittos in Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Roman Forum, Tower, and Mt. Lykavittos in Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Tower of the Winds has an interesting history:

The Tower of the Winds stands in the Pláka below the north side of the Acropolis. In the planning of the modern city of Athens in the 19th century. Eólou Street, named after the wind god Ailos, was aligned directly on the tower, which forms a landmark at its southern end.

Built about 40 B.C., the tower is an octagonal structure 12m/40ft high, with sundials on the external walls; it originally housed a water-clock.

Around the top runs a frieze with reliefs representing the eight wind gods – the beardless Notos, pouring out rain from an urn (south); Lips, holding the stern ornament of a ship (southwest); Zephyros, a youth scattering flowers (west); Sykron the bringer of snow (northwest); the bearded Boreas, blowing into a shell (north); Kaikias, also bearded, the bringer of hail (northeast); Apeliotes, a young man bearing ears of corn and fruit (east); and Euros, wrapped in a cloak (southeast).

To the south of the tower is a building of the Roman period (first century A.D.) with the springing points of arches. Its function is uncertain (office of the market police, Caesareum?).

Adjoining the entrance to the excavated area is a marble latrine with seating for nearly 70.

The water-clock is located outside the western entrance to the Roman Market. It served as a form of meteorological station by combining a sundial, a waterclock and a weathervane showing the direction of the wind.

The clock is commonly known as “Aerides” (the winds) (Planetware.com).

A highly visible landmark, Lykavittos, also known as Lykabettos, stands 227 meters/909 feet in altitude. It was:

once well outside Athens but now surrounded by the city on all sides, is the dominant hill in the plain of Attica. It is a hill of cretaceous chalk, covered with various species of plant life, and is a popular place to go to escape from the hurly-burly of city life. At the top stands the chapel dedicated to St George, from where there are extensive views of the whole city (Planetware.com).

Click photo for larger view. Use search box at upper right for more posts on Athens, as well as other biblical sites.


Odeon of Herodes Atticus

February 9, 2015

On the south slope of the Athenian Acropolis you can view the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. An odeon was a theater built for musical performances and poetry competitions. This structure post-dates the apostle Paul and his preaching here (Acts 17) by about a century.

Odeum of Herodes Atticus. Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

From Wikipedia:

It was built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped amphitheater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof made of expensive, cedar of Lebanon timber. It was used as a venue for music concerts with a capacity of 5,000. It lasted intact until it was destroyed and turned into a ruin by the Heruli in 267 AD.

The Odeon (AD 161) was a gift from Herodes Atticus:

whose life reads like something out of the Arabian Nights; he inherited his extraordinary wealth from his father, who found a treasure outside Rome. Famous in its time for having no interior columns to support its long-gone cedar wood roof, the 6,000 seat Odeion hosts the excellent Festival of Athens, where modern European and ancient Greek cultures meet in theatre, ballet and classical concerts performed by companies from all over the world. (Greece by Dana Facaros & Linda Theodorou. Cadagan Guides. p.119).

Click image for larger view. For other posts on Athens, Greece use search box at upper right.


Paul’s Acts 17 Sermon, Greek Text, at Aeropagus, Athens Greece

February 5, 2015

In Acts 17 Luke narrates how Paul was invited to speak to the men of Athens in the midst of the Areopagus, at Mars Hill. Among the listeners were Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (v.17). He began his address by referencing an altar in their city with this inscription: “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.” Using that as his starting point, he contrasted the true God with the idols they worshiped. The true God made all things, including us. He gives unto us life, breath, and all things. Because He is the Creator, and we are His creatures, we must seek after Him and find Him. He commands all men everywhere to repent; a day is coming in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the One whom He raised from the dead (summary of vv. 23-31).

Today at the site of Mars Hill there is a bronze plaque with the text of Paul’s sermon engraved in the Greek language.

Paul's Acts 17 sermon, on bronze plaque at base of Mars Hill, Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Paul’s Acts 17 sermon, on bronze plaque at base of Mars Hill, Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Greeks did not believe in a resurrection, so as soon as Paul mentioned that, many of his audience stopped listening (v.32). Others procrastinated (v.32). But there were some converts to Christ there: Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (v.34).

We have numerous other posts on Athens. Use search box at above right.

Click image for larger view.