The remotest traditions clothed the very name of this assembly with majesty and awe. Holding their council on the sacred hill consecrated to Mars, fable asserted that the god of battle had himself been arraigned before its tribunal. Solon exerted his imagination to sustain the grandeur of its associations. Every distinction was lavished upon senators, who, in the spirit of his laws, could only pass from the temple of virtue to that of honour. Before their jurisdiction all species of crime might be arraigned - they had equal power to reward and to punish. From the guilt of murder to the negative offence of idleness , their control extended - the consecration of altars to new deities, the penalties affixed to impiety, were at their decision, and in their charge. Theirs was the illimitable authority to scrutinize the lives of men - they attended public meetings and solemn sacrifices, to preserve order by the majesty of their presence. The custody of the laws and the management of the public funds, the superintendence of the education of youth, were committed to their care. Despite their power, they interfered but little in the management of political affairs, save in cases of imminent danger. Their duties, grave, tranquil, and solemn, held them aloof from the stir of temporary agitation. They were the last great refuge of the state, to which, on common occasions, it was almost profanity to appeal. Their very demeanour was modelled to harmonize with the reputation of their virtues and the dignity of their office. It was forbidden to laugh in their assembly - no archon who had been seen in a public tavern could be admitted to their order , and for an areopagite to compose a comedy was a matter of special prohibition . They sat in the open air, in common with all courts having cognizance of murder. If the business before them was great and various, they were wont to divide themselves into committees, to each of which the several causes were assigned by lot, so that no man knowing the cause he was to adjudge could be assailed with the imputation of dishonest or partial prepossession. After duly hearing both parties, they gave their judgment with proverbial gravity and silence. The institution of the ballot (a subsequent custom) afforded secrecy to their award - a proceeding necessary amid the jealousy and power of factions, to preserve their judgment unbiased by personal fear, and the abolition of which, we shall see hereafter, was among the causes that crushed for a while the liberties of Athens. A brazen urn received the suffrages of condemnation - one of wood those of acquittal. Such was the character and constitution of the AREOPAGUS.