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Ancient Greek Law in the 21st Century

Ancient Greek Law in the 21st Century

Eleven essays by leading scholars chart new directions for the study of ancient Greek law, including fresh assessments of key debates, new methodological approaches, and an argument for the ongoing relevance of teaching Greek law.

Series: Ashley and Peter Larkin Endowment In Greek and Roman Culture

March 2018
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240 pages | 6 x 9 | 4 b&w photos |

The ancient Greeks invented written law. Yet, in contrast to later societies in which law became a professional discipline, the Greeks treated laws as components of social and political history, reflecting the daily realities of managing society. To understand Greek law, then, requires looking into extant legal, forensic, and historical texts for evidence of the law in action. From such study has arisen the field of ancient Greek law as a scholarly discipline within classical studies, a field that has come into its own since the 1970s.

This edited volume charts new directions for the study of Greek law in the twenty-first century through contributions from eleven leading scholars. The essays in the book’s first section reassess some of the central debates in the field by looking at questions about the role of law in society, the notion of “contracts,” feuding and revenge in the court system, and legal protections for slaves engaged in commerce. The second section breaks new ground by redefining substantive areas of law such as administrative law and sacred law, as well as by examining sources such as Hellenistic inscriptions that have been comparatively neglected in recent scholarship. The third section evaluates the potential of methodological approaches to the study of Greek law, including comparative studies with other cultures and with modern legal theory. The volume ends with an essay that explores pedagogy and the relevance of teaching Greek law in the twenty-first century.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction (Adriaan Lanni and Robert W. Wallace)
  • 1. Administering Justice in Ancient Athens: Framework and Core Principles (Robert W. Wallace)
  • 2. Revenge and Punishment (Eva Cantarella)
  • 3. Hyperides’s Against Athenogenes and the Athenian Law on Agreements (Michael Gagarin)
  • 4. Slaves Operating Businesses: Legal Ramifications for Ancient Athens—and for Modern Scholarship (Edward E. Cohen)
  • 5. Toward a New Shape of the Relationship between Public and Private Law in Ancient Greece (Alberto Maffi)
  • 6. “Heiliges Recht” and “Heilige Gesetze”: Law, Religion, and Magic in Ancient Greece (Martin Dreher)
  • 7. Summary Fines in Greek Inscriptions and the Question of “Greek Law” (Lene Rubinstein)
  • 8. Soft Law in Ancient Greece? (Julie Velissaropoulos-Karakostas)
  • 9. From Anthropology to Sociology: New Directions in Ancient Greek Law Research (Adriaan Lanni)
  • 10. Oral Law in Ancient Greece? (Mogens Herman Hansen)
  • 11. The Future of Classical Oratory (Gerhard Thür)
  • Contributors
  • Index Locorum
  • Index

Austin, Texas

Perlman is a professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin. Her books are The Laws of Ancient Crete, c.650–400 BCE, coauthored with Michael Gagarin, and City and Sanctuary in Ancient Greece: The Theorodokia in the Peloponnese.


“As a whole, the volume provides a succinct and learned overview of modern thinking on issues that have been debated since the subject flourished in the 1970s, and includes some convincing and innovative readings...the volume will be a great resource for students, established scholars, and indeed teachers of Greek law. ”
Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“[Ancient Greek Law in the 21st Century] is a miscellany, as it is intended to be. The only real unifying theme is the diversity of approaches and directions that modern scholars can take in approaching ancient Greek law. In this, the book's stated aim, it is successful. I found the contributions stimulating, and the work as a whole offers exciting promises to both new and established scholars for groundbreaking work that remains to be done.”
American Historical Review

“Perlman's new volume…seeks to guide the direction of [the study of ancient Greek law] in the 21st century. Although each contribution is concerned with a different topic, they all provide a critical analysis of problems in the scholarship and offer solutions for them...[Ancient Greek Law in the 21st Century] has universal value for scholars dealing with modern legal problems.”
Alternative Law Journal

“As would be expected from contributors of this caliber, the scholarship in this volume is excellent. It makes a significant contribution to the field owing not only to the quality of the individual papers, but also to the topic they address: what is the future of the study of ancient Greek law? To my knowledge, there is nothing comparable on the market. Potential readerships, besides scholars of Greek law, include scholars and others interested in classics, ancient history, ancient law, pedagogy of law, and comparative law.”
David D. Phillips, UCLA, author of The Law of Ancient Athens

“Leading international scholars provide seminal accounts of a broad range of research areas in ancient Greek law. I don’t know of a comparable work that takes stock of the range of scholarship in this way.”
David Mirhady, Simon Fraser University, coeditor of NOMOI, a bibliographical website for the study of ancient Greek law


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3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca