In two previous “posts” I described “Paul on the Road to Assos” (Acts 20:5-12) and “Paul’s Arrival at Assos” and the Temple of Athena at Assos. The Assos that Paul visited was a well–established Greco Roman city. Indeed, at one time the philosopher Aristotle had lived and taught in the city (ca. 347–343 B.C.).
As in other Roman cities, the citizens of the city would assemble as the ekklesia in the theater to discuss and debate civic affairs.
The city itself, like other Roman cities, were active in honoring/worshiping the Emperor, his family, and his predecessors. In fact, in 1881 a bronze tablet was found at Assos that dates to A.D. 37—roughly 20 years before Paul’s visit. This tablet “records the oath of allegiance that Assos’s inhabitants swore to the emperor Gaius [Caligula] when he gained power. It reads:
“… Since the announcement of the coronation of Gaius … (Caligula), which all mankind had longed and prayed for, the world has found no measure for its joy, but every city and people has eagerly hastened to view the god [Caligula], as if the happiest age for mankind had now arrived.
It seemed good to the Council, and to the Roman business men here among us, and to the people of Assos, to appoint a delegation … to visit him and offer offer their best wishes and to implore him to remember the city and take care of it ….
We swear by Zeus the Savior and the god Caesar Augustus [Octavian] and the holy Virgin of our city [Athena Polias] that we are loyally disposed to Gaius Caesar Augustus and his whole house, and look upon as our friends whomever he favors, and as our enemies whomever he denounces. If we observe this oath, may all go well with us; if not, may the opposite befall.
Thus again, Paul and his companions encountered the veneration (worship) of the Emperors even here at Assos.
Today the harbor as Assos serves the fisherman and a number of boutique hotels line its dock [on our tours we typically stay in one of these hotels].
However, the harbor that Paul left from for Mytilene was located a bit to the east of the modern harbor.
To view additional images of the site of Assos Click Here.
The quote above is from pp. 136–37 in Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. eds. Yarbrough. Readings From the First–Century World: Primary Sources for New Testament Study. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998.