chapter
25 Pages

Introduction

There was never in the archaic or classical period a single ‘Greek’ legal system. We find similarities in legal procedure and provision between different states and different periods. So a Greek who found himself spectating in the court of another city would not find it totally alien. But it would be a mistake to envisage a single origin or a uniform development for the administration of justice in different parts of Greece. The Greek world (by which is meant the Greek peninsula and the regions colonized by the Greeks) was divided into independent states, largely along lines determined by geography. These states differed in their political structure, in aspects of cult practice, and in the content and application of their laws. Even where one state fell under the political control of another, it is uncertain in most cases how far the legal system of the dependent state would be affected beyond such changes as were necessary to secure political dependence. Accordingly we find substantial differences between the legal provisions of different states. To take a single example, in Athens a man might legally marry his half-sister if they shared a father but not if they shared a mother, while in Sparta the reverse was the case.1