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Crime and Punishment in Ancient Greece

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Crime and Punishment in Ancient Greece

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  • March 13, 2012
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Today, criminals are punished for their crimes by going to jail or prison or being on probation. But what was it like in Ancient Greece?After the Dark Ages, about 1200-900 BC, the Ancient Greeks had no official laws or punishments. Murders were settled by the victims family killing the murderer, but this was difficult if they were elderly or female. This often began endless blood feuds. It was not until the seventh century BC that the Greeks began to establish laws. Around 620 BC, Draco wrote the first law for Greece. This law said that exile was the penalty for murder and was the only one of Draco's laws that Solon kept when he became law giver in 594 BC. Foreign slaves were often employed as police men and women in Ancient Greece. After somebody reported a crime, if somebody was arrested, an informant would receive half of fine charged to the criminal. In Athens, criminals were tried before a jury of 200 or more citizens picked at random. Going to prison was not an usual punishment for the people of Greece. In cases involving rape, theft, adultery, and murder, the accused got a written summons that told them when they had to appear before the magistrate. Athenian law was divided into two things, public and private action. Public actions included the entire community. Private actions included an individual. In cases of murder, the victims family was required to prosecute the killer. Even though magistrates were at the trial, they weren't judges. They neither gave advice nor did they convict the felon. They just supervised the hearing. The jury in a trial was made up of 200-600 members over the age of thirty to make sure there was no risk or bribery. After the speeches had been delivered by the prosecution and the defense, the jurors voted without deliberation. In the 5th century BC, jurors cast their vote in secret. Each juror was provided with two tokens, one for conviction and the other for acquittal. The juror put one of these in a wooden urn whose...