Theater of Dionysus, Athens

February 8, 2011

Greetings from Tampa, where we are currently attending the Florida College lectures. This year’s theme is, “Trembling at My Word,” God’s Power for Restoration. It is great to see so many friends, many of whom we’ve known for so long now, and to be able to sing, study, pray and visit together.

Another site we wish to share from ancient Athens is the theater of Dionysus, a major open-air theater and one of the oldest to be preserved. The theater was used in festivals in honor of the wine god Dionysus (same as Greek Bacchus).

Theater of Dionysus in Athens Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This theater was built in the 6th century BC, then rebuilt in the 4th century BC. It seated between 14,000 and 17,000 occupants.

Dionysus the wine god. Athens Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This statue of the wine god Dionysus was discovered at Eleusina, located 18 km northwest of the city center of Athens.

This puts me in mind of 1 John 5:21: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”


Temple of Zeus, Athens

February 1, 2011

The Temple of Zeus in Athens is located southeast of the Acropolis.

Temple of Zeus in Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin

Wikipedia has the following general info:

The temple of Olympian Zeus . . . is a colossal ruined temple in the centre of the Greek capital Athens that was dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisaged building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD some 638 years after the project had begun. During the Roman periods it was renowned as the largest temple in Greece and housed one of the largest cult statues in the ancient world.

Originally there were 104 Corinthian columns. Today 15 of those remain standing. A 16th column can be seen lying on the ground.

In the early 1800s a stylite made his dwelling on the top of one of the columns. The Greek word for column is stylos; the stylites were ascetics who spent long periods (sometimes years) on the tops of columns.

In the NT book of Acts, when Paul was preaching at Lystra, he healed a lame man. The pagan residents thought the gods had come down in human form. “They began to call Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of the temple of Zeus, located just outside the city, brought bulls and garlands to the city gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifices to them” (Acts 14:12-13). Paul and Barnabas were just barely able to persuade them not to do so.

Right after that, Jews came from Pisidian Antioch, and persuaded those same residents of Lystra to stone Paul and drag him out of the city! (Acts 14:19).

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Temple of Hephaestus, Athens

January 31, 2011

Today’s post features the Athens Temple of Hephaestus. Hephaestus was the mythical god of forging and metal working, the god of blacksmiths. Construction on the temple was begun in 449 BC, and was completed 415 BC. It is a Doric style temple, made of Pentelic marble, and is located on the northwest side of the agora.

Athens Temple of Hephaestus. The god of forging. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This temple is said to be the best preserved ancient Greek temple in the world. It would have been prominently overlooking the agora when Paul preached in Athens (Acts 17).

In Birmingham, AL., known in the past as a major steel producer, the Vulcan stands atop Red Mountain (largest cast iron statue in the world). Vulcan is the Roman equivalent to the Greek Hephaestus. The word vulcanize comes from his name.

Click on image for high resolution.


At Athens, Gate of Athena Archegetis

January 25, 2011

Situated on the west side of the agora in Athens is the Roman forum Gate of Athena. It was constructed in 11 BC. It has four Doric columns, with a base of Pentelic marble. According to the inscription on the architrave, the gate was dedicated by the Athenians to their patroness Athena Archegetis with funding by Julius Caesar and later Augustus.

Gate of Athena Archegetis in Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

It is amazing to see ancient ruins surrounded by modern buildings, not to mention the vehicles!

 


Stoa of Attalus at Athens

January 20, 2011

Paul sent word for his traveling companions Silas and Timothy at Beroea to join him “as soon as possible” at Athens (Acts 17:15). Meanwhile, as Paul waited for them, he made effective use of the time. Acts 17:16,17 states,

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.

Note that Paul reasoned in the market place those who happened to be present. The market place, or agora, was the civil center of Athens. This would have included the Stoa (porch), a colonnaded structure on the east side of the market place.  Social, political, legal meetings and religious and philosophical discussions took place there. Paul made use of this setting as an opportunity to teach and reason about the true God, and His will for all men.

Stoa of Attalos and Market Place (Agora) from the Areopagus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In our photo, taken from the Areopagos (Mars Hill) you can see the Stoa of Attalos at right center.  The ancient agora sprawled to your left. This gives the geographical context to Paul’s discussions in the Athenian marketplace, with “those who happened to be present.”

Attalos II was king of Pergamum 159-138 BC. It was he who first built the Stoa.

Stoa of Attalos. Consisted of two stories. Photo Leon Mauldin.

 

The Stoa was 385 feet in length and consisted of two stories. It housed 21 shops on each floor. Again, this would have been the site for Athenians to meet, walk, and to do business.

Stoa of Attalos at Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Here is a view of the Stoa showing first floor level. Restoration of the Stoa was carried out in 1953-1956 by the American school of Classical Studies with the financial support of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Click on images for higher resolution.


The Erechtheion in Athens

January 18, 2011

Among the important ruins situated upon the acropolis in Athens is the Erechtheion, a unique sanctuary dedicated to Athena Polias; Poseidon and Erechtheus were worshiped here.

Erechtheion at Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This view shows the Porch of the Kayatids, which used female figures as architectural supports as columns. These figures are a representation of the “Maidens of Karyai,” an ancient town of Peloponnese. The structure dates to the 5th century BC.

Below is a close up view:

Close-up of Porch of the Maidens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

These maidens are actually replicas. The originals are encased in glass in the museum.

More to come.  Click on image for higher resolution.


The Parthenon in Athens

January 17, 2011

Our previous post referenced the Apostle Paul’s preaching in Athens as recorded in Acts 17:16-34. Up from the Areopagus was the Parthenon. The Parthenon was the temple devoted to the virgin Greek goddess Athena, of Greek mythology, goddess of wisdom and the arts.

The Parthenon in Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

 

This temple was constructed with eight Doric columns in front and rear, and seventeen along each side. Within the Parthenon stood a thirty-four feet high statue of Athena, built by the sculptor Pheidias. It was made of wood with ivory additions and a plating of gold.

The city of Athens was said to be “full of idols,” (Acts 17:16), but it may well be that Paul had in mind especially the nearby Parthenon when he proclaimed,

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

He went on to say in v. 29,

Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.

We plan to continue with more of the sites in Athens.

My friend & fellow-worker Ferrell Jenkins is currently directing a tour in Egypt. To keep up with their travels, and see the photos to be posted, see Ferrell’s Travel Blog. Link is provided to your right under Blogroll.

Remember to click on image for higher resolution.


The Areopagus in Athens

January 14, 2011

On Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey, he taught the Gospel at Athens, reasoning with those in the synagogues as well as in the market place. Acts 18:18-20 tells us of another teaching opportunity that arose:

Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.  And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?  “For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.”

The word Areopagus means “Rock of Ares.” Ares is the the Greek god of war. Pagos is “rock.” The word Areopagus is used both with reference to the ruling council of Athens, as well as the place where the council met. Our photo shows the steps leading up to the Areopagus.

Steps leading up the the Areopagus in Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Areopagus is also called “Mars Hill.” Mars was the Roman god of war. Photo below shows a few of my group on the top of the Areopagus. Bob Berry, center, quoted Paul’s sermon preached here (Acts 17).

Areopagus. A few of our 2010 tour group. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Areopagus is composed of marble.  It is worn quite slick in places, so be careful of your footing if you have the occasion to visit.

Areopagus in Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The shot above was taken from near the Parthenon.

Click on images for higher resolution.


Temple of Apollo at Corinth

December 28, 2010

The church at Corinth, which received two of the New Testament letters, 1 & 2 Corinthians, was situated in a world of sin and degradation.  By “church,” I’m not referring to the place that they met, but rather the people who had turned from their lives of sin and had been washed, sanctified, and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

A visual example of the idolatry so prevalent at Corinth can be seen in our photo, which shows the ruins of the temple of Apollo.

Temple of Apollo at Corinth. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Regarding this site BAS says,

The Temple of Apollo at Corinth was 700 years old by Paul’s time. On the hill directly overlooking the Roman city’s main forum, its sturdy Doric columns served as a dramatic reminder of Corinth’s ancient grandeur. But the temple was already in ruins; to Paul it would have served merely as a sermon illustration of the impotence of the Greeks’ “pagan” gods.

As noted above, the temple was in ruins in the days of Paul, but the centuries of pagan idolatrous influence was still very much there.

The Acrocorinth may be seen in the background.  It was there that the temple of Aphrodite was situated in ancient times.

The Apollo temple originally had 38 columns of the Doric order.  Today seven are standing.

Click on image for higher resolution.


The Diolkos At Corinth

December 23, 2010

In our previous post we referenced the canal that cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth connecting the Ionian Sea with the Aegean Sea.  In ancient times there was a paved road that stretched across the isthmus, called the diolkos, which enabled cargo and smaller ships to be hauled overland, thus avoiding the dangerous circumnavigation of the Peloponnese.

Our photo shows a portion of the western end of the diolkos. To the right and out of view, the canal runs parallel.

Diolkos at Corinth. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The BAS has this information re: this site in their collection, The Biblical World in Pictures commenting on their photo taken in the same area as mine above:

In Paul’s day a stone-paved sledway, called the Diolkos, was used to haul ships and their cargoes across the isthmus. At both ends of the road the pavement continued down beneath the waterline, allowing the shallow-draft ships to be floated onto and off of the sleds. The sleds were then pulled out of the water and across the isthmus by mule-power.

This view of the Diolkos is near the western end, looking beyond to the Gulf of Corinth (and the mountains along its northern coast sheltering the oracle shrine of Apollo at Delphi). At the right can be seen the western outlet of the modern canal. The stone pavement of the Diolkos clearly shows the ruts formed by sled runners over centuries of use. Corinth, of course, controlled the Diolkos traffic. Moreover, since ship crews and passengers using this route had to leave their vessels temporarily at Corinth anyway, they had less reason to make an additional port-call at Athens’ harbor on the Piraeus. Thus, many more travelers of the Roman era passed through Corinth than through Athens.

The diolkos was paved with hard limestone.

Click on image for higher resolution.

 


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