Use and Abuse of Law in the Athenian Courts


This timely volume brings together leading scholars and rising researchers in the field to examine the role played by the law in thinking and practice in the legal system of classical Athens. The aim is not to find a single perspective or method for the study of Athenian law but to explore the subject from a variety of different angles. The focus of the collection on ‘use and abuse’ raises fundamental questions about the status of law in the Athenian constitution as well as the use of law(s) in the courts, the nature of law itself, and the elusiveness of a definition of ‘abuse’. An introduction sketches the major developments in the field over the last century.

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Chris Carey is Emeritus Professor of Greek at University College London. He has published on Greek lyric, epic, drama, politics, oratory and law.
Ifigeneia Giannadaki is a Research Associate at University College London. Her publications focus on aspects of Athenian law and oratory. She is currently completing her Commentary on the Speech of Demosthenes, Against Androtion (Oxford University Press).
Brenda Griffith Williams is an an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Greek and Latin at University College London She has published A commentary on selected speeches of Isaios and articles on Athenian law and rhetoric.
"The volume as a whole offers a very successful examination of the ways in which law could be used in Athenian legal cases and outlines the room that was available for interpretations, manipulations, extensions, and contractions of law that might be understood as ‘abuse’, depending on one’s reading of the legal system. (...) All of the papers have something to offer, and many offer innovative and succinct readings that contribute greatly to the field. It is especially gratifying to see a section on rhetoric in the volume, acknowledging that all information on law taken from the Attic orators must be read through a rhetorical lens. (...) This volume, and Wohl’s paper in particular, demonstrates that there is still plenty of room for innovation in the fields of Athenian law and oratory." - Christine Plastow, in: BMCR 2019.10.10

"Ultimately, one of the greatest strengths of this book lies in its open-endedness, in its recognition that, like Athenian law, the state of the question is necessarily flexible. (...) These diverse perspectives and voices have pieced together a compelling, multifaceted illustration of a dynamic legal system that responded to the needs of its practitioners. The range of interpretations resulting from a single body of evidence suggest that these ancient texts, and the legal system to which they belonged, will continue to offer a rich field of study to scholars for years to come. This collection’s prioritization of flexible and polyvalent interpretations represents, I believe, the use of academic discourse." - Hilary J. C. Lehmann, Knox College, in: CJ-Online, 2021.04.07.
Abbreviations Notes on Contributors
IntroductionChris Carey

Part 1 Conceptualising The System

1 Abuse Is in the Eye of the BeholderMichael Gagarin
2 The Elasticity of Athenian LawRobin Osborne
3 The Athenian View of an Athenian TrialEdward M. Harris
4 Bridging the Divide Between Public and Private: dikē exoulēs and Other HybridsChris Carey

Part 2 Procedural Manoeuvres

5 Isaeus 6: A Case of Procedural Abuse (and Scholarly Misunderstandings)Brenda Griffith-Williams
6 Anakrisis and Legal Argumentation in Athenian Public TrialsChristos Kremmydas
7 The Postponement of the Trial by Jury in Athens: The Timing of the graphē paranomōnLászló Horváth
8 Abusing Legal Procedures for Impeding the Legal ProcessNoboru Sato

Part 3 The Rhetoric of Law

9 Clauses out of Context: Partial Citation of Statutes in Attic Forensic OratoryLene Rubinstein
10 Twisting the Law in Ancient AthensIlias Arnaoutoglou
11 (Re)constructing the Athenian Legal SystemIfigeneia Giannadaki
12 Liturgies and the Rhetoric of Law in Fourth Century Athens: A Case Study on an antidosis ([Dem.] 42)Kostas Apostolakis
13 Jurisdiction and Jurisprudence in Demosthenes 23Victoria Wohl
14 ‘Theft’ as a Metaphor for the Abuse of Legal Process at AthensS.C. Todd

Part 4 Specific Areas of Law

15 Laws Against Laws: The Athenian Ideology of LegislationMirko Canevaro
16 Abuse of the eisangelia in the Latter Half of the Fourth Century BCEleni Volonaki
17 Athenian Homicide Law and the Model Penal CodeDavid D. Phillips
18 Abuse of Inheritance Law in Isaeus?Rosalia Hatzilambrou
Glossary Bibliography Index of terms Index of names and places Index locorum
This book will be read by researchers and students interested in classical Athens, Athenian democracy and law, Greek political and social history, Greek literature especially oratory, history of law.
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