chapter  3
22 Pages

How to cast a criminal out of Athens

Law and territory in archaic Attica *
ByMirko Canevaro

Athens in classical times was an untypical polis. The logistic difficulties of a population spread over such a vast territory were overcome through the impressive territorial organisation of Attica, which was divided in demes, trittyes and tribes which were at the same time constituent parts of the polis and enjoyed some level of self-government. Athens controlled a territory of 2,500 square kilometers, spreading all over the Attic peninsula and enclosed on the north and northwest by the mountain ranges of the Parnes and Cithaeron. Evidence of attempts to integrate the countryside into the Athenian ‘state’ are clearly attested at the time of the tyrants. Peisistratus and his sons are credited with the institution of deme judges, who would adjudicate quarrels in villages outside Athens, and there is evidence that Peisistratus himself used to visit the countryside to be seen and affirm his power.