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Edward Harris

The Areopagus council was the most respected court in Classical Athens. It had jurisdiction in trials for intentional homicide, intentional wounding, poisoning, and arson. The Areopagus could launch investigations into crimes on its own initiative or at the command of the assembly and exercised surveillance over religious matters. The assembly might also delegate specific tasks to the Areopagus. There is no reason to think that the Areopagus acquired additional powers during the Persian Wars later removed by the reforms of Ephialtes. During the Roman period, the Areopagus was the leading political body alongside the council and assembly, and the herald of the Areopagus one of the most prestigious offices.The Areopagus was the most respected political institution in Classical Athens and retained its prestige down to the Roman Empire. Lycurgus(Leoc. 12) called it the finest example of justice in all of Greece. Demosthenes(23.65) claims that “in this tribunal alone no defendant who has been convicted or accuser who has lost has even proved that his case was wrongly decided.” .