Because of his debating in the agora, the main marketplace in the centre of Athens, Paul has been called before the council of the senior men governing Athens. They meet at the Areopagus (‘Ares Rock’), a rocky hill overlooking the marketplace, to the west of the main acropolis on which the Parthenon was built. The implication is that Paul is making an appeal for recognition of his new gods, and the council need to grant approval for new altar to be added in the pantheon—though Paul quickly dismisses this option. The God he proclaims cannot simply be slotted in to the existing patterns of belief.
His speech is often taken as an example of Paul’s accommodation to culture, and Paul certainly engages his listeners in terms they understand. His opening greeting ‘Men of Athens!’ (sometimes translated ‘People of Athens’ or ‘Athenians’—though only men are present) is the formally correct way to address the council, and Paul’s speech, even as edited by Luke, contains numerous rhetorical devices that would have impressed his listeners. And Paul cites writings from two Greek philosophers—the Cretica of Epimenides from Crete (which he also quotes in Titus 1:12), and the Phenomena of Aratus, whom came from Paul’s home region of Cilicia. This confirms what we might suppose from Paul’s own writings, that he was well educated in Greek philosophy and rhetoric as well as being steeped in the Scriptures.