Athenian Law- a Murder's Defense

Topics: Marriage, Law, Death Penalty Pages: 5 (1690 words) Published: October 18, 2012
This ancient Athenian murder trial centralizes around the expectations of marriage, the role of women in ancient Greece, and the dangers a husband faces after failing to properly supervise his wife. Euphiletus stands accused of the murder of Eratosthenes, his wife’s lover. According to Athenian law, if a husband finds his wife in bed with another man, it is the husband’s right to determine what penalty the male adulterer will face. The Husband could demand he pay a fine, or even justifiably kill him. The time period of Euphiletus’ trial had come to acknowledge financial compensation as the common settlement for such offenses. Eratosthenes’ family is having Euphiletus prosecuted for premeditated murder; leaving Euphiletus to convince a jury his actions where perfectly legal. He must paint himself as the real victim, a respectable law abiding citizen forced to uphold the law and carryout the proper punishment Eratosthenes earned. All to protect the honor of his wife, children, home and name as best he could. If his defense fails in the eyes of the jury, Euphiletus will face execution. DEFENSE

Euphiletus begins his defense by recounting the events leading up to the crime, starting with his marriage. He is sure to stress the proper supervision and responsible guardianship he took over his wife, like a respectable husband should. However once she for fills her ultimate obligation as a wife and bares him a child, she earns his trust. Euphiletus- now overjoyed with her womanly cleverness and proper management of their house hold, is convinced of her loyalty. This opening serves Euphiletus’ a key primary evidence towards his defense. The legitimacy of his marriage and his role as perfect husband are needed to boost his character. He appears law abiding, by keeping close watch over his wife once they are married. Solon’s laws on women limit the behavior of wives in particular-by expecting the husband to seclude her from society as much as possible. Wives were viewed as being too fragile, uneducated and gullible to be subjected to the public- incapable of recognizing evil advances that might be made towards them. A father stood responsible for his daughter’s guardianship before she matures, and once ready for marriage this responsibility is passed onto her husband. Euphiletus then explains the incident that changed everything, the occasion which Eratosthenes first sees his wife. “But then my mother died, and her death has proved to be the source of all my troubles, because it was when my wife went to the funeral that this man Eratosthenes saw her; and as time went on, he was able to seduce her.” This statement provides Euphiletus with an acceptable excuse as to why other men were able to veiw his wife, and defense against assumptions that it was his fault for not sheltering her away from the public or letting her run wild. Because wives were allowed to make appearances at the funerals of family members. Even Solons strict laws for women of the time accepted mourning as an allowable circumstance for a man’s wife to leave the house. However law still stressed proper supervision by a trusted male chaperone and required she dressed modestly as to not draw attention. Euphiletus claims he was gullable and unaware during this outing, along with many other incidents following the funeral. This being his only crime, if he should be charged with one. For it was later into the affair when Euphiletus noticed his wife wearing make up on her face and then playfully locking him into his section of the house for an entire night- but still shrugged off any suspicion. Her odd behavior was not enough reason for Euphiletus to assume her dishonest. He now regrets not assuming the worst, and admits he should’ve acknowledged the red flags. Still he upholds his image as a proper husband, perhaps too loving is all. Although having said all this, Euphiletus is sure to make the distinction of deceitfulness between his defenseless wife and the...
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