In which we enter the Philippian Downtown “Agora”

by Craig on March 15, 2011

Oooh. Before we go one step further in the tour – here’s a satellite shot of the city!!

So far we have hiked our way to Philippi, entered the gates, and seen the pretty amphitheater (here),

hung out in the poor part of town (here, here, here, here and here),

told the story of a Philippian carpenter(here, here, here and here)

talked a little about how we know all this 2,000 year old stuff (here)

headed up the main avenue, the Via Egnatia, to the downtown area, took a left turn (here),

and now we take a quick right…

aaaaaand we’re moving….

Things have been noisy on the street, and they’d be be even noisier after the turn, and the crowds even thicker.

But if we ventured inside the Forum things would change. Unless there was a celebration of some sort going on it would be much quieter and more “official” in here.

Upon entering we’d find collonades lining a large open area. The din of the crowds would be deadened and be replaced by the quieter air of a government building.

There might be a few shops in here but not the crazy hustle and bustle.

The ruling leaders worked here and a major temple or two inside would demand reverence from the hoi polloi.

Eventually Paul would make his way here, but now he’d probably stay outside where all the regular people were.

Here’s the Forum. On the other side of the area covered completely in stone is where the Palaestra is. Those pretty big things past that? Ignore them, they came much later. Oh, and that big Mountain – that’s Mount Pangeon – if you’ve been wit the tour from the beginning you’ll remember that.

As the Forum would serve as a right side border to this market area, the Paleastra would serve as the left one. Now this is the place the Philippians would have hearted.

The Forum would be large,
but a very official,
very stuffy place.

The Paleastra would be not quite as roomy, but more a place of the people.

Surrounding the large courtyard were columned porches and an open colonnade.

The columns would support a shady roofed portico whose walls would have paintings of landscapes and archetecture – a bit of outside on the inside.

The portico surrounded the court and rooms surrounded it.

There would be rooms for ball playing,
and teaching.

The Palaestra was made for all people, of all types, to use.

This is where we’d see the big clash of competing cultures. The stodgy Forum would be very Roman. The enticing Palaestra would be entirely Greek.

The people of Greece loved athletics and the Paaestra would house a nice sized gym. The carefully cultivated plants, ornate paintings lining the walls, and music floating on the open air would reflect the Greek love beauty and grace.

The Roman Forum would be all stone and business.
This Palaestra would be all relaxation and recreation.
Philippi had an identity crisis of sorts,
and these two similar,
but very different places,
would illustrate it.

The Palaestra would be the place for lectures and intellectual conversation.

There would be statues of gods all around – Apollo, Hermes, and Eros. Eros was the oldest god, the one who ruled over friendships and social things. The Palaestra was his place.

But it would also have been Paul’s.

The Palaestra would have looked something like this:

It was in a Palaestra like this where he would have first learned of the Greek philosophers and religion when he was a boy in Tarsus. It was in a place like this that he had often debated the very same things that the Greek and Roman Philippians would be discussing here daily.

It’s easiest to speak when we’re comfy. No?

Paul would have felt very comfy here.

It’s a good bet that Paul would preach.

His talk would stir conversation.

Looking around we’d see hands and arms flailing all over.

This wouldn’t be because of anger.

It’s just that the Greeks and Romans talked with their hands back then too.

After the sermon

we’d exit the Palaestra to the south

and leave it and the Forum behind us,

I’ll prbably be writing on the subject of “letting go” tomorrow, as I link with Ann Voskamp.

I haven’t got a grasp on what I’m letting go of yet – but that’s for tomorrow.

Then it’s back to the streets of Philippi for us.

God Bless.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie March 15, 2011 at 7:35 am

Thank you for taking us there where Paul was comfy. Very fascinating to me! :) God bless you as you keep writing for Him!


Craig March 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Almost done with the tour – three or four more stops – then back to James Deb – and the whole – rich people don’t be mean to the poor people thing – and poor people stop being so fake nice to the rich people – it will all tie back in. :)


Jamie @ See Jamie blog March 15, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Fabulous! I would love to go there someday! Thanks for the tour!


Craig March 15, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Philippi is more alive to me now than ever – real people – about 75 of them – in constant rough circumstances – and yet the jewel of the early church – and Paul’s favorites. My kind of people Jamie. Thank you for being here – and God Bless.


A. March 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Craig, is really puts the color on the black and white and the flesh on the bones. So, so helpful!!!! Paul and the Philippians become more and more real. Also can’t wait to see what we learn about the rich and the poor.


Craig March 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Thank you A. It all became so much more alive to me as I learned it too. And all I’m going to say about the rich and the poor is jn;p[oacnpiau apiudfpqau7ref LAska get away from ao iupgfiuq]e9fgj a;’lkn[un[apeytgf[eim a[euhfa[enfae e
the keyboard
darned cat
well I’ll tell you later :) God Bless.


Michelle March 16, 2011 at 12:44 am

You know, there was (is still sometimes) a time when I would be more comfortable in the Forum – all formal and distant. I’m learning to be a lot more comfy in the Palaestra (and I am mostly), but that means letting people get to know me. Not easy. :)


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