An Athenian Court Trial
An Athenian will regard locking a criminal up for a term of years as a very foolish and expensive proceeding. If he has nothing wherewith to pay a round fine, why, simply send him into exile. This penalty is direful indeed to a Greek. The exile has often no protector, no standing in the courts of the foreign city, no government to avenge any outrage upon him. He can be insulted, starved, stripped, nay, murdered, often with impunity. Worse still, he is cut off from his friends with whom all his life is tied up; he is severed from the guardian gods of his childhood,—"the City," the city of his birth, hopes, longings, exists no more for him. If he dies abroad, he is not sure of a decent funeral pyre; and meanwhile his children may be hungering at home. So long as the Athenians have this tremendous penalty of exile at their disposal, they do not feel the need of penitentiaries.
Next Chapter : The Ecclesia of Athens
Back to A Day in Old Athens Contents
The Greek Word Library
Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/old-athens-trial.asp?pg=13