Greek Justice: Trial And Punishment Essay

1085 words - 4 pages

The first written laws, which have been credited to Draco, appeared in Athens at about 621 B.C. His laws (Draconian laws) were very cruel and harsh and his basic rule was that every crime warranted the death penalty. The earliest known laws in Athens and the one that remained unchanged for the longest time concerned homicide. As the Greeks believed that murder offended the gods, there were religious sanctions against homicide and anyone who killed another person (outside of wartime) was considered polluted.The Solonian laws were developed at the time the Athenians realized they needed to change the constitution and reform their laws. Solon who was appointed lawgiver around 594 BC made a different set of legal codes. He was given a great deal of freedom and his first objective was to get rid of all of Draco's laws except the law that established exile as the penalty for homicide. One of Solon's big changes to the Athenian justice system was that he passed a law allowing any male citizen, not just the victim or the victim's relatives, could bring an indictment if he believed a crime had been committed.Just like today, ancient Greek society had problems that had to be dealt with by the courts and criminals had to be tried, convicted and sentenced. In my project you will learn all about the Greek trials, justice and punishments.Courts, Trials and PunishmentsThe early law courts could basically be divided into those that heard and tried homicide cases and those that tried lesser offences. The Middle, Greater, Red and Green courts judged less serious crimes.The most ancient homicide court was the Areopagus that tried only premeditated murders. This court got its name from the Ares hill in Athens, where the court was held. The court officials were ex-archons (magistrates) who could conduct preliminary hearings but otherwise did not interfere in the trial. Although the death penalty was often given other punishments could involve the guilty person losing his property or being sent into exile.About 5 BC the Areopagus was divided into four courts each trying different types of homicide. The Palladion tried accidental homicides, often the accused did not receive a punishment but if a punishment was thought necessary then the verdict could be exile. A second court was the Delphinion that tried justifiable homicides, an example would be catching a burglar in the act of act of stealing. The punishment for this type of homicide was usually a fine. A third court was the Prutaneion that tried cases resulting from death caused by objects or animals. The punishment for these homicides was the removal of the object or animal that caused the death from Athens or the animal was killed. Finally, there was the Phreatto court that tried homicides committed by people who were already in exile for accidental homicide. This was interesting because the accused person was already in exile for murder and therefore not allowed to come on shore for trial. The accused had to make...

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