[Demosthenes] 59: Against Neaira

Topics: Law, Citizenship, Jury Pages: 2 (368 words) Published: November 8, 2012
Neaira, an alien, is accused of living in marriage with Stephanos, an Athenian citizen. The law prohibiting this states:

If an alien lives in marriage with an Athenian woman by any manner or means, any Athenian at will who possesses the right is to indict him before the Thesmothetai. If he is convicted, both he and his property are to be sold, and one-third is to go to the successful prosecutor. The same is to apply if an alien woman lives in marriage with an Athenian man, and the man who lives in marriage with the alien woman so convicted is to be fined one thousand drachmas (185).*

This law exists to ensure the creation of legitimate Athenian offspring. The prosecution sought to indict both Stephanos and Neaira, in which case Neaira would be sold and Stephanos fined as illustrated above.*

The intentions of the prosecution in the case against Neaira are chiefly to affirm her status as an alien, and confirm that she is living in marriage with Stephanos. The law regarding citizenship cited above only applies to marriage. This law places an emphasis on marriage because legitimate children can only be born through a genuine marriage. Therefore, Athenian citizens can only marry other citizens in order to ensure the citizenship of the children will be valid.* Apollodoros stresses the importance of the legitimacy of Neaira's children in this case, because Stephanos was introducing them into Athenian society as citizens. Apollodoros argues, "this man is living in marriage with an alien woman contrary to the law, that he introduced another's children into his phratry and deme, that he gives the daughters of courtesans in marriage as though they were his own"* (184). If Apollodoros can invalidate their citizenship by proving they are truly the offspring of an alien, then he can prove Stephanos guilty of another law which states:

If anyone gives an alien woman in marriage to an Athenian man, representing her as related to him, he is to be disfranchised, his...
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