The Areopagus, according to Wikipedia, “is a prominent rock outcropping located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Its English name is the Late Latin composite form of the Greek name Areios Pagos, translated “Ares Rock” (Ancient Greek: Ἄρειος Πάγος). In classical times, it functioned as the court for trying deliberate homicide, wounding and religious matters, as well as cases involving arson or olive trees.”
John Milton’s Areopagitica (1644), an impassioned defense of unlicensed printing, argues that “the censors of ancient Athens, based at the Areopagus, had not practiced the kind of prior restraint of publication being called for in the English Parliament of Milton’s time.”
Dionysus the Areopagite “was a judge at the Areopagus Court in Athens, who lived in the first century. As related in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 17:34), he was converted to Christianity by the preaching of Paul the Apostle during the Areopagus sermon.” The French in the Middle Ages liked to argue that their St. Denis was in fact a transplanted Dionysus the Areopagite.
What I did not realize is that Πάγος in Greek is not “pagus” in Latin. In Greek it means mountain peak or rocky hill. In Latin it means district, area, or countryside – thus the English word “pagan,” which refers to the idea that the old religion held on in the countryside after the cities had converted to Christianity. So the Areopagus is not Athens’s equivalent of the “Field of Mars,” as I wrongly assumed, but of “Mars Hill,” of which there are plenty of examples throughout the world.
The more you know!