Disputes and Democracy: The Consequences of Litigation in Ancient Athens by Steven JohnstoneDisputes and Democracy: The Consequences of Litigation in Ancient Athens by Steven Johnstone

Disputes and Democracy: The Consequences of Litigation in Ancient Athens

bySteven Johnstone

Paperback | January 1, 1999

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Athenians performed democracy daily in their law courts. Without lawyers or judges, private citizens, acting as accusers and defendants, argued their own cases directly to juries composed typically of 201 to 501 jurors, who voted on a verdict without deliberation. This legal system strengthened and perpetuated democracy as Athenians understood it, for it emphasized the ideological equality of all (male) citizens and the hierarchy that placed them above women, children, and slaves.

This study uses Athenian court speeches to trace the consequences for both disputants and society of individuals' decisions to turn their quarrels into legal cases. Steven Johnstone describes the rhetorical strategies that prosecutors and defendants used to persuade juries and shows how these strategies reveal both the problems and the possibilities of language in the Athenian courts. He argues that Athenian "law" had no objective existence outside the courts and was, therefore, itself inherently rhetorical. This daring new interpretation advances an understanding of Athenian democracy that is not narrowly political, but rather links power to the practices of a particular institution.

Steven Johnstone is Professor of History at the University of Arizona.
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Title:Disputes and Democracy: The Consequences of Litigation in Ancient AthensFormat:PaperbackDimensions:223 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:January 1, 1999Publisher:University Of Texas Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292740530

ISBN - 13:9780292740532

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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • 1. Authoritative Readings
  • 2. Law and Narrative
  • 3. Dare, or Truth
  • 4. Conjuring Character
  • 5. Certain Rituals
  • 6. Litigation and Athenian Culture
  • Appendix: The Use of Statistics
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Index of Passages Cited