The Inscription with the Law Code of Gortyn
Athenian Law and Society
The essays can be submitted any time; the final deadline is Tuesday of week 15.
The Lecture and discussion for weeks 2 and 3 have been posted in E-Learning (Sakai). Now that the site has been published all participants should have access to the site. All subsequent mail and announcements related to this course should be done through Sakai.
Summary: The present course offers a comprehensive assessment of the structures of classical Athens, encompassing a detailed study of Athenian law, constitution, finance, society, daily life, gender relations, religion, and culture. Athenian literature and culture has exercised enormous influence upon our culture, and thus, this course allows students to experience the birth and foundation of western civilization. However, in some respects Athenian society was tantalizingly different from ours. The Athenians did not have a holy book, and did not believe that any outside authority held an absolute truth. Thus, everything was considered to be a suitable subject for debate and investigation, from the natural world to moral values and beliefs. This allowed Athens to become a suitable place for scientific research, intellectual quest, rhetorical perfection, philosophical debate, and political experimentation. The result was the creation of a highly influential culture, and major advances in many disciplines. In this course students will study the conditions that allowed these advances to take place, and the political, social, economic and cultural context in which the foundations of our own culture were laid. Links with the modern debate on political, constitutional and social issues will also be explored where appropriate.
Aims and objectives:
Every week on Wednesday a recorded formal lecture will be placed online in mp3 (audio file) format. You will be able to download the file, and if you wish, burn it on a disc and listen to it at your convenience. The file will be available for 1 week, so make sure that you download it, if you want to listen to it again.
In addition, an online discussion thread with questions pertinent to the week's topic will be available. Contribution to the online discussion will carry 20% of the grade.
There will be several live review meetings online (with Elluminate), at the end of each unit, which will present good opportunities for further discussion and exchange of ideas. You will be expected to have heard all pertinent lectures and come to the online review prepared, and ready to make intelligent contributions.
The final review will be on Wednesday December 8, ahead of the Final exam, which will be in the evening of December 9.
NOTE: This format is designed to allow maximum flexibility, so that the class can be easily fitted around busy schedules, but also provides opportunities for the class to get together in a virtual classroom setting, enhance good communication, and facilitate vigorous exchange of ideas and experiences with the course.
Course Materials:Students will need to buy or have easy access to the following books:
1. D.M. MacDowell: The Law in Classical Athens London 1978
2. R. Just: Women in Athenian Law and Life London 1989
Each week students will need these books, and this is why it is important to have easy access to them.
1. Introductory Lecture: The Evolution of the Athenian Constitution in connection with political, economic and social developments in the archaic and classical periods.
2. Citizen identity: definition of
citizenship for men and women
Introduction to the citizen body: phratry, genos, deme
Aliens, metics, and slaves
3. The Administration of the Athenian state: Assembly and Magistrates.
The appointment and accountability of magistrates
4. The legislative process: laws, decrees, graphe paranomon
The enforcement of the law: public and private lawsuits, arbitration
5. The popular law-courts; the Areopagos and the other homicide courts
Speeches witnesses, documents, legal challenges
Penalties: self-help, fines, disfranchisement, imprisonment, death
6. The democratic constitution: an overview
Subversive activity against the Athenian democracy
7. REVIEW MEETING (LIVE ONLINE) [OCTOBER 6: 8 pm ET)
The Individual and the family
8. The Athenian family (oikos)
and its head (kyrios)
The legal responsibilities of the kyrios; fathers and sons.
9. The formation of the oikos: marriage and women’s role
Concubines, and illegitimate offspring
Gender relations and stereotypes
10. The continuation of the oikos: direct succession, adoption, epicleros
Widows, orphans and guardians
11. Women, property and women’s power
The break up of the marriage: divorce and adultery
Courtesans and prostitutes
12. REVIEW MEETING (LIVE ONLINE) [NOVEMBER 10: 8 pm ET)
Athenian cultural values13. Assault, slander, enslavement, hybris
Essay topics:Write an essay (c. 3000 words) choosing from the following topics:
Index of Course Handouts