The Rule of Law in Action in Democratic Athens

Hardcover | November 19, 2013

byEdward M. Harris

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The Rule of Law in Action in Democratic Athens examines how the Athenians attempted to enforce and apply the law when judging disputes in court. Recent scholarship has paid considerable attention to the practice and execution of Greek law. However, much of this work has left several flawedassumptions unchallenged, such as that Athenian law was primarily concerned with procedure; that the main task of enforcement lay in the hands of private citizens; that the Athenians used the courts not to uphold the law but to pursue personal feuds; and that the Athenian courts rendered ad hocjudgments and paid little attention to the letter of the law. Drawing on modern legal theory, the author examines the nature of "open texture" in Athenian law and reveals that the Athenians were much more sophisticated in their approach to law than many modern scholars have assumed, and thus breaks considerable new ground in the field. At the same time, thebook studies the weaknesses of the Athenian legal system and how they contributed to Athens' defeat in the Peloponnesian War. By reexamining the available evidence, Edward Harris provides a much needed corrective to long-held views and places the Athenian administration of justice in its broadpolitical and social context.

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The Rule of Law in Action in Democratic Athens examines how the Athenians attempted to enforce and apply the law when judging disputes in court. Recent scholarship has paid considerable attention to the practice and execution of Greek law. However, much of this work has left several flawedassumptions unchallenged, such as that Athenian...

Edward M. Harris is Research Professor of Ancient History at Durham University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:470 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:November 19, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199899169

ISBN - 13:9780199899166

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionPart I - The Political And Social Contexts of Athenian Law1. Was Athens a State or a Stateless Community? The Political Context of Athenian Law2. Feuding or the Rule of Law? An Essay in Legal SociologyPart II - Applying the Law3. The Judicial Oath4. What are Athenian Laws about? Substance and Procedure in Athenian Statutes5. Open Texture in Athenian Law: The Approach of the Litigants6. Open Texture in Athenian Law: The Response of the Courts7. Did the Athenian Courts Attempt to Achieve Consistency? The use of Precedents in Forensic Orator8. How Strictly did the Athenian Courts Apply the Law? The Role of EpieikeiaPart III - The Breakdown of the Rule of Law9. Cleon and the Defeat of AthensAppendix 1 - Hunter on Citizens Enforcing the LawAppendix 2 - Magistrates Enforcing Laws and Decrees in the Fifth Century BCEAppendix 3 - Quotations or Allusions to Judicial Oath in Attic OratorsAppendix 4 - Organization of the Gortyn LawcodeAppendix 5 - Laws in the Attic OratorsAppendix 6 - Categories of atimoi listed in the decree of PatrocleidesAppendix 7 - Issues in the OratorsAppendix 8 - Public Service in the Attic OratorsAppendix 9 - The Authorship of the Speeches in the Demosthenic CorpusBibliographyIndex