Before I get to Day 12 let me say a few concluding words about Day 11. We headed for a “late” lunch at 2 pm. I believe I have mentioned before but Greeks eat both their lunch and supper much later than we do. In fact, it is fairly common for the traditional suppertime to be around 9 pm. Our drive back to Athens was a good two hours and so by the time we arrived most of us were good and tired. There was some time to jump in a very chilly pool and then freshen up for an evening in Athens.
We had arranged a supper at a family diner that provided live folk entertainment, complete with a band, dancers and singers. The meal included dishes of veal, feta, and stuffed peppers. Of course what was most memorable was the entire group laughing, clapping, dancing (well some of us) and shouting “Opa!” at every opportunity. We were back at our hotels by 11:30 pm, and this writer/tour guide/pastor was pooped!
This morning we were out for a final day of a sightseeing tour of Athens including the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Our stop at Mars Hill where Paul addressed his followers was most memorable. Aeropagus in Greek or Mars Hill as called by the Romans is a bare marble hill next to the acropolis in Athens. Acts 17:15-18
In Paul’s day Epicurean Philosophy was known among the thinkers of Athens. Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) founded one of the major philosophies of ancient Greece. The Epicureans originally taught that the supreme good was happiness. By Paul’s time, however, this philosophy had degenerates into a more sensual system of thought. For an Epicurean death was final. There would be no judgment, no after-life, just nothing. You can see it is not much of a leap to conclude that one’s whole purpose is to be happy while you can.
Stoic Philosophy or stoicism – Founded in Athens by Zeno in early 3rd century. In Stoic philosophy, it was taught that people should live in accord with nature, recognize their own self‑sufficiency and independence. The cosmos was determined but humankind had a fee will. The origins of Stoicism were pantheism. How one believed was less important as how one behaved and so ones political and social life needed to be as orderly as the cosmos.
At its heart, both beliefs excluded a personal, interactive God. The gods, so the thinking went, just really don’t care and furthermore are not going to get involved. The only thing for us to do is to come up with ways to survive.
All this was happening on a place the Romans would call Mars Hill and the Greeks would call Aeropagus.
But Paul saw something else: an altar whose inscription read, To an Unknown God. Instead of condemning their idolatry Paul used it as a way to relate.
We then made our way to and up the Acropolis and toured the ruins including the famous Parthenon. What a site.
We visited Phaleron Bay, where every ship that arrived into Athens anchored, including those that carried Paul to and from Athens.
Tonight we enjoyed one final meal in Athens together at a local Taverna in the Plaka out underneath the stars and among the many vendors that give Athens its character. Our footsteps are finally coming to an end and Greece and we will be up at 3 am to catch our flight home! What a lovely thought.