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Ancient Greek Law in the 21st Century

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The ancient Greeks invented written law. Yet, in contrast to later societies in which law became a professional discipline, the Greeks treated laws as components of social and political history, reflecting the daily realities of managing society. To understand Greek law, then, requires looking into extant legal, forensic, and historical texts for evidence of the law in action. From such study has arisen the field of ancient Greek law as a scholarly discipline within classical studies, a field that has come into its own since the 1970s.

This edited volume charts new directions for the study of Greek law in the twenty-first century through contributions from eleven leading scholars. The essays in the book’s first section reassess some of the central debates in the field by looking at questions about the role of law in society, the notion of “contracts,” feuding and revenge in the court system, and legal protections for slaves engaged in commerce. The second section breaks new ground by redefining substantive areas of law such as administrative law and sacred law, as well as by examining sources such as Hellenistic inscriptions that have been comparatively neglected in recent scholarship. The third section evaluates the potential of methodological approaches to the study of Greek law, including comparative studies with other cultures and with modern legal theory. The volume ends with an essay that explores pedagogy and the relevance of teaching Greek law in the twenty-first century.

Author: Perlman Paula
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781477315217
Cover: Hardback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2018


Introduction (Adriaan Lanni and Robert W. Wallace)

1. Administering Justice in Ancient Athens: Framework and Core Principles (Robert W. Wallace)

2. Revenge and Punishment (Eva Cantarella)

3. Hyperides’s Against Athenogenes and the Athenian Law on Agreements (Michael Gagarin)

4. Slaves Operating Businesses: Legal Ramifications for Ancient Athens—and for Modern Scholarship (Edward E. Cohen)

5. Toward a New Shape of the Relationship between Public and Private Law in Ancient Greece (Alberto Maffi)

6. “Heiliges Recht” and “Heilige Gesetze”: Law, Religion, and Magic in Ancient Greece (Martin Dreher)

7. Summary Fines in Greek Inscriptions and the Question of “Greek Law” (Lene Rubinstein)

8. Soft Law in Ancient Greece? (Julie Velissaropoulos-Karakostas)

9. From Anthropology to Sociology: New Directions in Ancient Greek Law Research (Adriaan Lanni)

10. Oral Law in Ancient Greece? (Mogens Herman Hansen)

11. The Future of Classical Oratory (Gerhard Thur)


Index Locorum


Perlman is a professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin. Her books are The Laws of Ancient Crete, c.650–400 BCE, coauthored with Michael Gagarin, and City and Sanctuary in Ancient Greece: The Theorodokia in the Peloponnese.

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