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Athenian Law and Society - AHIS305

Why did the Athenians consider adultery a worse crime than rape? What was the Greek attitude to women and the family in society, and why? In what circumstances could a citizen kill another and get away with it? Why did the Greeks embrace child prostitution but made male homosexuality a crime? Why were slaves tortured before their testimony was admissible in court? These are some of the questions addressed in this course, which mines the rich information found in contemporary court speeches to shed light not only on the admirable aspects of Greek society, but also the often overlooked contemptible side to that society. The course surveys the Athenian law code and the workings of the judicial system in the fifth and fourth centuries BC to see why Athenian society is referred to as ‘the rule of the law’. Then we move to reading in class (and discussing) actual forensic speeches (in translation) from a variety of lawsuits and procedures (e.g., homicide, adultery, personal injury). We will talk about as society changed, the Athenians changed their ideas and developed new laws – modern society is no different, or is it?

Credit Points: 3
When Offered:

S2 Day - Session 2, North Ryde, Day

S2 Online - Session 2, Online

Staff Contact(s): Professor Ian Worthington

39cp at 100 level or above or (6cp in AHIS or AHST units at 200 level)  Prerequisite Information


Unit Designation(s):
Unit Type:
Assessed As: Graded
Offered By:

Department of Ancient History

Faculty of Arts

Course structures, including unit offerings, are subject to change.
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