Heliaia or Heliaea (Ancient Greek: Ἡλιαία; Doric: Ἁλία Halia) was the supreme court of ancient Athens. Τhe view generally held among scholars is that the court drew its name from the ancient Greek verb ἡλιάζεσθαι, which means συναθροίζεσθαι, namely congregate.[α] Another version is that the court took its name from the fact that the hearings were taking place outdoors, under the sun.[β] Initially, this was the name of the place where the hearings were convoked, but later this appellation included the court as well.[1]

Recinto de la Heliea. Stoa de Atalo al fondo. Ágora de Atenas

The judges were called heliasts (ἡλιασταί) or dikasts (δικασταί, ὀμωμοκότες = those who have sworn, namely the jurors). The operation of judging was called ἡλιάζεσθαι (δικάζειν).

Institution and composition of Heliaia

It is not clear whether Heliaia was instituted by Cleisthenes or Solon, but it seems that the latter initiated a function of the Assembly to sit as an appeals court.[2][γ] The court had 6,000 members, chosen annually by lot[3] among all the male citizens over 30 years old, unless they were in debt to the Treasury or disfranchised, namely deprived of their civil rights through the humiliating punishment of atimia (ἀτιμία).[4] Those suffering from intellectual or corporeal flaws were also excepted, if their shortages prevented them from fully perceiving the proceedings. If any unqualified person participated in a jury, then information was laid against him and he was brought before the Heliaia. If convicted the court could assess against him whatever punishment or fine he is thought to deserve. If the punishment was a money fine, then the infringer had to go to prison until he had paid both the former debt, for which the information was laid, and whatever additional sum had been imposed on him as a fine by the court.[4]

Appointment of the jurymen

The public office of the heliast was not obligatory, but the citizens who wished to exert these duties had to submit a petition. The post of the dikast was salaried[5] and, thereby, the jurors were remunerated for each day of employment with one obolus and later, at the instigation of Kleon probably in 425 BC with three oboloi, i.e. half a drachma. According to Aristotle,[6] Pericles first made service in the jury-courts a paid office, as a popular counter-measure against Cimon's wealth.

The 6,000 were drawn from the 10 tribes (each tribe was offering 600 members) and they were then divided into chambers of 600 jurymen, 500 or 501 of whom were regular members, with the rest constituting alternate jurors. In exceptional cases the court could go into plenary sessions.[7] Sometimes, the chambers had 201 to 401 members or 1001 to 1501 members.[δ] After the selection by lot, the heliasts had to take the Heliastic Oath once every year.[1] After the swearing-in, the jurors received one box-wood ticket, with their own names and that of their father and deme written on it, and one letter of the alphabet as far as kappa[8] and the jurors of each tribe were divided into ten sections, approximately an equal number under each letter.[4]


Initially, the Heliaia's jurisdiction was limited to judging the archons and, probably, some other similar accusations against public office-holders. It was when Ephialtes and Pericles prompted a binding resolution through the ecclesia,[9] stripping the Areios Pagos, conservatism's hub, of most of the cases it judged,[10] that the Heliaia started judging almost all the civil and penal cases. The Areios Pagos kept its competence only for the crimes of murder and arson,[11] while the archons could impose some minor fines. The Heliaia's jurisdiction also included litigation which involved Athenians and citizens of other cities or Athens and another city as subjects of international law. Namely, the Heliaia functioned as a court for litigation of public, criminal and private international law.[ε]

Taking the jurisdiction over the so-called graphe paranomon, the Heliaia replaced the Areios Pagos in the execution of the legal control of the decisions of the ecclesia. Until Ephialtes' reforms the Areios Pagos had the duty of guarding the laws and to keep watch over the greatest and the most important of the affairs of state.[12]


The Heliaia was in session every normal day, except for the three last days of each month and for the days during which the ecclesia was in session. The sessions took place in the open within a marked-off area, since there was no specific building where they could be lodged. The location of the hearing was confined within a special hedge, outside of which the audience could stand.[13] The details of the legal procedure were as follows:

The hegemon (ἡγεμών[στ]) of the court was responsible for the registration of the suits and complaints. After holding a preliminary investigation, he also had to subpoena the litigant parties and the witnesses before the jury. In the morning of the day of hearings, the hegemon had to determine by lot the jury that would judge the case as well as the place where it would convene. After the formation of the jury, the hegemon had to submit the conclusions of his preliminary investigation, announcing and defining the litigation on which the court should decide. Then it was the time for the plaintiff, the defendant and the witnesses to be heard. The arguments were exposed by the litigants themselves, without the legal support of a lawyer,[ζ] in the form of an exchange of single speeches timed by water clock. In a public suit each litigant had three hours to speak, whereas they had much less in private suits (though here it was in proportion to the amount of money at stake). In this way the judicial cases became a vehement fight of impressions, since the jurors did not constitute a little group of mature citizens, such as the Court of Areios Pagos, which was interested only in the correct application of the law. Additionally, before the Chambers of Heliaia each citizen had to become an effective orator and to act solely in his capacity as citizen, in order to protect his interests and to enforce his views.[14]

Decisions were made by voting without any time set aside for deliberation. Nothing, however, stopped jurors from talking informally among themselves during the voting procedure and juries could be unruly, shouting out their disapproval or disbelief of things said by the litigants. This may have had some role in building a consensus. The voting procedure was public and transparent. Each heliast had received two votes, one "not guilty" and one "guilty". Then the herald (κήρυξ) would, first, ask the heliasts if they wanted to submit any objections against the witnesses and, then, he would call them to cast their votes in two different amphoras, one of copper for the "non-guilty" votes and one of wood for the "guilty" votes. The voting was secret,[15] since each juror had to cover the vote with his fingers, so that nobody could see in which amphora he threw it. In the civil cases the voting procedure was different, because the amphoras were as many as the litigant parties and the jurors had to vindicate one of them by casting their vote.

After the votes were counted, the herald announced the final result. In cases of a tie, the defendant was acquitted, because he was thought to have got "the vote of Athena".


Heliasts could impose either fines (for civil and penal cases) or "corporeal sentences" (only for penal cases). The fines of Heliaia were higher than the fines of the archons. The lato sensu "corporeal sentences" included death, imprisonment (for the non-Athenian citizens), atimia (sometimes along with confiscation) and exile (ἀειφυγία).

Famous trials before Heliaia

Socrates' trial

Socrates was accused of impiety by Meletus, Anytus and Lycon. His trial took place in 399 BC and the jury found him guilty with 280 votes to 220.[16] His death sentence was decided in a second round of voting, which was even worse for the philosopher. Nonetheless, Socrates did not lose his calm demeanor and, although during the trial he could propose to the jury his self-exile, he did not do it when his friends offered to help him flee afterward, since life away from his beloved city was pointless for him.

Pericles' trial

According to Plutarch,[17] Pericles faced, twice, serious accusations. The first one was just before the eruption of the Peloponnesian War and the second one was during the first year of the war, when he was punished with a fine, the amount of which was either fifteen or fifty talents. Before the war a bill was passed, on the motion of Dracontides, according to which Pericles should deposit his accounts of public moneys with the prytanes and the jurors should decide upon his case with ballots which had lain upon the altar of the goddess on the acropolis. This clause of the bill was however amended with the motion that the case be tried before fifteen hundred jurors in the ordinary way, whether one wanted to call it a prosecution for embezzlement and bribery, or malversation.

See also


     α.   ^ In Argos the place where its court was seated was also called ἁλιαία.

     β.   ^ Sun = ἥλιος and the verb ἡλιοῦσθαι (passive voice) = enjoy the sun.

     γ.   ^ According to Mogens Herman Hansen, The Athenian Ecclesia: A Collection of Articles 1983-1989, page 260, "apart from Plutarch, who quotes the Ath. Pol., there is no other evidence that the heliaia was a court of appeal, and the scanty contemporary sources indicate that it was a court of first instance."

     δ.   ^ When certain chambers were merged. This was the case of Pericles' trial.[18]

     ε.   ^ The cases of private international law were initially judged by the session of the Athenian alliance in Delos.[1]

     στ.   ^ This was not a judge or a juror, but a kind of archon, chosen by lot or by ordination for about a month.[19]

     ζ.   ^ That is why the profession of the logographer, namely professional authors of judicial discourse, such as Lysias, flourished in ancient Athens.[20]


  1. ^ a b c The Helios
  2. ^ Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 9.1 and Archaic Times to the End of the Peloponnesian War, Cambridge University Press, page 209
  3. ^ Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 63.1 and Archaic Times to the End of the Peloponnesian War, Cambridge University Press, page 209
  4. ^ a b c Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 63.3
  5. ^ Aristophanes, Wasps, 662
  6. ^ Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 27.2.4-5
  7. ^ Andocides, Speeches, 1.17 and Mogens Herman Hansen, The Athenian Ecclesia: A Collection of Articles 1983-1989, page 260
  8. ^ Demosthenes, On the Crown, 210
  9. ^ Plutarch, Pericles, IX
  10. ^ Aristotle, Politics, 1274a
  11. ^ Demosthenes, On the Crown, 133
  12. ^ Aristotle, Constitution of Athens, 8.1
  13. ^ Demosthenes, On the Crown, 196
  14. ^ Stephen Usher, The Orations in Ancient Attica in The Orations in the Modern Educational Systems, page 184
  15. ^ R.K Sinclair, Democracy and Participation in Athens, page 20
  16. ^ Comments on Socrates' Apology, page 17 (in Greek)
  17. ^ Plutarch, Pericles, 32.1 and 35.1
  18. ^ See The Helios
  19. ^ The Helios, article Hegemony of the court
  20. ^ Stephen Usher, The Orations in Ancient Attica in The Orations in the Modern Educational Systems, page 183


Primary sources

Secondary sources

  • Cambridge University Press, Archaic Times to the End of the Peloponnesian War, 1983.
  • Encyclopaedic Dictionary The Helios, article Heliaia (in Greek).
  • Mogens Herman Hansen, The Athenian Ecclesia: A Collection of Articles 1983-1989, 1989.
  • Konstantinos Paparrigopoulos, History of the Hellenic Nation, Volume Ab (in Greek).
  • R.K Sinclair, Democracy and Participation in Athens, 1991.
  • Georg Friedrich Schömann, A Dissertation on the Assemblies of the Athenians, Cambridge, 1838.
  • Stephen Usher, The Orations in Ancient Attica in The Orations in the Modern Educational Systems, Editions: Grigoris, 1984 (translated in Greek).

External links

453 BC

Year 453 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Quinctilius and Trigeminus (or, less frequently, year 301 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 453 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Classical Athens is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora, located to the northwest of the Acropolis and bounded on the south by the hill of the Areopagus and on the west by the hill known as the Agoraios Kolonos, also called Market Hill. The Agora's initial use was for a commercial, assembly, or residential gathering place.

Ancient Greek dialects

Ancient Greek in classical antiquity, before the development of the common Koine Greek of the Hellenistic period, was divided into several varieties.

Most of these varieties are known only from inscriptions, but a few of them, principally Aeolic, Doric, and Ionic, are also represented in the literary canon alongside the dominant Attic form of literary Greek.

Likewise, Modern Greek is divided into several dialects, most derived from Koine Greek.


The Areopagus () is a prominent rock outcropping located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Its English name is the Late Latin composite form of the Greek name Areios Pagos, translated "Ares Rock" (Ancient Greek: Ἄρειος Πάγος). In classical times, it functioned as the court for trying deliberate homicide, wounding and religious matters, as well as cases involving arson or olive trees.

Ares was supposed to have been tried here by the gods for the murder of Poseidon's son Halirrhothius (a typical example of an aetiological myth).


Atimia was a form of disenfranchisement used under classical Athenian democracy.

Under democracy in ancient Greece, only free adult Greek males were enfranchised as full citizens. Women, foreigners, children and slaves were not full citizens; they could not vote or hold public office, and they had to have adult males act as guardians of their property and other interests. A man who was made atimos, literally meaning without honour or value, was likewise disenfranchised and disempowered, making him unable to carry out the political functions of a citizen. He could not attend assembly meetings, serve as a juror in Heliaia or bring actions before the courts.

Being barred from assembly would effectively end a citizen's political ambition. Not being able to use the courts to defend oneself against enemies could be socially crippling. It also meant the loss of the small income that jury service and attendance at the assembly provided, which could be significant for poor people unable to work.

Atimia could be inflicted as a penalty by the courts for crimes such as bribery, embezzlement, false witness, and breach of duty as a public officer. A temporary form of atimia was automatically imposed if a debt to the state was unpaid after a certain time, for instance if someone was unable to pay a fine. There was no upper limit on the fines courts could impose and they could well be larger than a person's entire estate. Just as this debt was inheritable, so was the status.Failure to abide by atimia was seen as an attack on the power of the people, represented by the courts that had imposed it. Failing to comply with atimia could lead to the death penalty.

Chalcis Decree

The Chalcis Decree was an oath of loyalty that the people of the city of Chalcis on the island of Euboea were forced to swear after the failure of a revolt from the Athenian Empire in 446/5 BC. The decree is difficult to date but it followed the revolt of the cities of Euboea in 446. The islanders were angered by the increasingly harsh imperialism of Athens and attempted to take advantage of the defeat of Athens in the Battle of Coronea in neighbouring Boeotia (c. 447 BC) which resulted in the loss of the Athenian “land empire”. The revolt was crushed by the Athenians led by Pericles. Other cities on Euboea, such as Eretria, had decrees with exactly the same provisions passed. The decree is considered a point at which there was no longer any doubt of the imperial power held by Athens over its allies in the Delian League.I will not revolt from the people of Athens by any means or device whatsoever, neither in word or in deed, nor will I obey anyone who does revolt, and if anyone revolts I will denounce him to the Athenians. and I will be the best and fairest ally I am able to be and will help and defend the Athenian people, in the event of anyone wronging the Athenians people, and I will obey the Athenian people.Athens also expected to be involved in the judicial proceedings of the city of Chalcis resulting in the actions of local courts being severely restricted. The decree allowed the people of Chalcis to punish their own citizens, except in cases that involved death, exile, or the loss of rights as citizens. The right of appeal to the Heliaia in Athens was allowed. This was largely aimed at the oligarchic wealthy who hoped to gain the assistance of Sparta or Persia in their revolts.

Cycladic culture

Cycladic culture (also known as Cycladic civilisation or, chronologically, as Cycladic chronology) was a Bronze Age culture (c. 3200–c. 1050 BC) found throughout the islands of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. In chronological terms, it is a relative dating system for artefacts which broadly complements Helladic chronology (mainland Greece) and Minoan chronology (Crete) during the same period of time.

Ecclesia (ancient Athens)

The ecclesia or ekklesia (Greek: ἐκκλησία) was the principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens. It was the popular assembly, open to all male citizens as soon as they qualified for citizenship. In 594 BC, Solon allowed all Athenian citizens to participate, regardless of class, even the thetes. The assembly was responsible for declaring war, military strategy and electing the strategoi and other officials. It was responsible for nominating and electing magistrates (árchontes), thus indirectly electing the members of the Areopagus. It had the final say on legislation and the right to call magistrates to account after their year of office. A typical meeting of the Assembly probably contained around 6000 people, out of a total citizen population of 30,000–60,000. It would have been difficult, however, for non-wealthy people outside the urban center of Athens to attend until payments for attendance were introduced in the 390s. It originally met once every month, but later met three or four times per month. The agenda for the ekklesia was established by the Boule, the popular council. Votes were taken by a show of hands, counting of stones and voting using broken pottery.

A quorum of 6,000 members was required sometimes to do business. The ecclesia elected by lot annually the Boule. Some of their power under Solon was delegated to the Court by Pericles in his reforms.

In ancient Greece an ekklesiasterion was a building specifically built for the purpose of holding the supreme meetings of the ecclesia. Like many other cities Athens did not have an ekklesiasterion. Instead, the regular meetings of the assembly were held on the Pnyx and two annual meetings took place in the Theater of Dionysus. Around 300 BC the meetings of the ekklesia were moved to the theater. The meetings of the assembly could attract large audiences: 6,000 citizens might have attended in Athens during the fifth century BC.A police force of 300 Scythian slaves carried red ochre-stained ropes to induce the citizens who loitered in the agora of Athens to attend the meetings of the assembly. Anyone with red-stained clothes who was not in the meeting was liable to a penalty.

Graphe paranomon

The graphē paranómōn (Ancient Greek: γραφὴ παρανόμων), was a form of legal action believed to have been introduced at Athens under the democracy somewhere around the year 415 BC; it has been seen as a replacement for ostracism which fell into disuse around the same time, although this view is not held by David Whitehead, who points out that the graphe paranomon was a legal procedure with legal ramifications, including shame, and the convicted had officially committed a crime, whereas the ostrakismos was not shameful in the least.

The name means "suit against (bills) contrary to the laws." The suit could be brought against laws or decrees that had already been passed, or earlier when they were merely proposals. Once someone announced under oath that he intended to bring such a suit, the legislation or decree in question was suspended until the matter was resolved. The thinking was that, as there was no mechanism in Athens for unmaking a law, any new law should not be in contradiction with the already existing laws.

The suit served a double function. Firstly, it provided a means of reviewing and perhaps rescinding decrees and legislation passed by the assembly. In this it seems to resemble a court of review such as the modern U.S. Supreme Court. However, the judges (who in English are usually referred to as jurors) of the judicial formations of the Athenian court of Heliaia were, like those attending assembly, ordinary citizens and not legal experts, just as the court used was a general one and not a panel devoted to legislative matters. (Jurors, it is true, had a slightly higher status, as they had to be over thirty, not twenty as for the assembly, and they were under oath.) The mechanism can be compared to the upper houses found in many modern democracies. However, in Athens this review was not automatic, but had to be initiated by a citizen. Unlike both an upper house or a specially established court, the review was not framed as an impartial and objective re-examination, but was couched as a prosecution to be defended by a defendant who stood to suffer a penalty in the event of conviction.

In this lies its second function: it provided a weapon with which rival Athenian politicians could damage or eliminate each other, or from another perspective, a means by which the Athenian demos could favor or punish the leaders who served it. The suit was brought against the speaker who had proposed the motion in the assembly: he was regarded as having misled the people and corrupted the laws of the state, since the assembly itself was not accountable to anyone and by a kind of structural fiction (see legal fiction) could do no wrong. The liability of the proposer expired after one year; after that the law itself could still be attacked and rescinded, but the proposer would not suffer any penalty. After five years the law itself was no longer subject to a suit.The penalty for conviction was usually a fine, sometimes small but sometimes so large it could not be paid. In this case disenfranchisement (atimia) would result, effectively ending a political career. Because of this, active politicians began recruiting surrogates to propose bills that they themselves had authored. Penalties would then fall on the surrogate rather than on the politician himself.

Very many of the known prosecutions concern not substantive legislation but honorary decrees, seemingly of little importance from a modern viewpoint. These did however allow discussion of a wide range of questions and issues. A signal example is the pair of speeches surviving from a graphē paranómōn from 333 BC, Demosthenes' On the Crown in response to Aeschines' Against Ctesiphon.

Greece in the Roman era

Greece in the Roman era describes the period of Greek history when Ancient Greece was dominated by the Roman Republic (509 – 27 BC), the Roman Empire (27 BC – AD 395), and the Byzantine Empire (AD 395 – 1453). The Roman era of Greek history began with the Corinthian defeat in the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC. However, before the Achaean War, the Roman Republic had been steadily gaining control of mainland Greece by defeating the Kingdom of Macedon in a series of conflicts known as the Macedonian Wars. The Fourth Macedonian War ended at the Battle of Pydna in 148 BC and defeat of the Macedonian royal pretender Andriscus.

The definitive Roman occupation of the Greek world was established after the Battle of Actium (31 BC), in which Augustus defeated Cleopatra VII, the Greek Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, and the Roman general Mark Antony, and afterwards conquered Alexandria (32 BC), the last great city of Hellenistic Greece. The Roman era of Greek history continued with Emperor Constantine the Great's adoption of Byzantium as Nova Roma, the capital city of the Roman Empire; in AD 330, the city was renamed Constantinople; afterwards, the Byzantine Empire was a generally Greek-speaking polity.


Harpalus (Greek: Ἅρπαλος) son of Machatas was an aristocrat of Macedon and boyhood friend of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. Being lame in a leg, and therefore exempt from military service, Harpalus did not follow Alexander in his advance within the Persian Empire but received nonetheless a post in Asia Minor. Alexander reportedly contacted him with a demand of reading material for his spare time. Harpalus sent his King theatrical plays by

Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, the history of Philistus and odes by Philoxenus and Telestes.

Harpalus was also a charming rogue who absconded three times with large amounts of money. The first time he was forgiven and reinstated, only to abuse his trust again. In 324 BC Harpalus found refuge in Athens. He was imprisoned by the Athenians after a proposal of Demosthenes and Phocion, despite Hypereides' opposition, who wanted an immediate uprising against Alexander. The Ecclesia, based on a proposal from Demosthenes, decided on the guarding of Harpalus' money, which was entrusted to a committee led by Demosthenes himself. When the committee counted the money they found 350 talents, although Harpalus had declared that he had 700 talents. Nevertheless, Demosthenes and the other members of the committee decided not to disclose the deficit.

When Harpalus escaped and fled to Crete, the orator faced a new wave of public uproar. The Areopagus conducted an inquiry and its findings led to Demosthenes being charged with mishandling 20 talents. At Demosthenes' trial in the Heliaia, Hypereides, who was the main prosecutor, noted that Demosthenes had admitted taking the money, but said that he had used it on the people's behalf and had borrowed it free of interest. The prosecutor rejected this argument and accused Demosthenes of being bribed by Alexander. Demosthenes was fined 50 talents and imprisoned, but after a few days he escaped thanks to the carelessness or connivance of some citizens and travelled around Calauria, Aegina and Troezen. It remains still unclear whether the accusations against him were just or not. In any case, the Athenians soon repealed the sentence and sent a ship to Aegina to carry Demosthenes back to the port of Piraeus.According to Pausanias, "shortly after Harpalus ran away from Athens and crossed with a squadron to Crete, he was put to death by the servants who were attending him (in 323 BC), though some assert that he was assassinated by Pausanias, a Macedonian". The geographer also narrates the following story: "The steward of his money fled to Rhodes, and was arrested by a Macedonian, Philoxenus, who also had demanded Harpalus from the Athenians. Having this slave in his power, he proceeded to examine him, until he learned everything about such as had allowed themselves to accept a bribe from Harpalus. On obtaining this information he sent a dispatch to Athens, in which he gave a list of such as had taken a bribe from Harpalus, both their names and the sums each had received. Demosthenes, however, he never mentioned at all, although Alexander held him in bitter hatred, and he himself had a private quarrel with him."Harpalus is featured in the historical novel Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault. In it, he is entrusted by his teacher Aristotle with the task of observing and recording the lives of wild animals. Renault speculates that this would explain some of the fantastic accounts in Aristotle's zoological writings as Harpalian hoaxes.


Heliaea is:

Heliaea (fly), a genus of flies in the family Tachinidae

A different spelling for Heliaia, a court in Athenian democracy

Heliastic oath

The Heliastic oath (Ancient Greek: ἡλιαστικὸς ὅρκος; heliastikos horkos) was an oath sworn by jurors in the ancient Athenian law courts.

In Demosthenes' speech Against Timocrates, the oath was quoted, and using quotations from other speeches, we can reconstruct the oath's main lines. The oath was sworn in the names of Zeus, Apollo, and Demeter. At the end of the oath, the juror said a curse against himself if he should break his oath. Voting in the court was secret though, so a juror could not be accused of breaking the oath. However, the juror could experience divine punishment for breaking the oath.

Law court (ancient Athens)

The law courts in ancient Athens (4th and 5th centuries BC) were a fundamental organ of democratic governance. According to Aristotle, whoever controls the courts controls the state.

These courts were jury courts and very large ones: the smallest possible had 200 members (+1 to avoid ties) and sometimes 501, 1000 or 1500. The annual pool of jurors, whose official name was Heliaia, comprised 6000 members. At least on one known occasion the whole six thousand sat together to judge a single case (a plenary session of the Heliaia). This was very different from Rome's laws, as in Rome, jury representatives were elected. The Athenian jurors were chosen randomly by lot, which meant that juries would consist, in theory, of a wide range of members from different social classes. Jurors were chosen on an annual basis, as were all other offices within the state (with the exception of the generals, known as strategoi).

After the reforms of Solon in 594/3 BC, anyone from each of the four classes (the pentacosiomedimni, hippeis, zeugites and thetes) could become a juror. This was meant to make the system much fairer to the poorer members of society, who had previously been excluded in favour of the elitist aristocrats.

The archons who convened the courts had a purely administrative function and gave no legal direction or advice to the jurors: there was no judge but the jurors themselves.

From the time of Pericles onwards, jury pay was introduced. This was two obols a day, which, despite not being a substantial amount of money, was enough to encourage even the poorest to become a juror. This was later increased to three obols a day by Cleon.The law courts in Athens were different and diverse: as time changed they changed too. They originated from the Council of the elite and wealthy who were in charge and ended up being open to any free male who was in the army. Athens valued justice and they had many different reforms as different challenges arose. The Athenian law court was large and decisions were made by majority. The courts could also exile those from society who were gaining too much power and could become tyrants. The laws of Athens also changed as the courts changed to work better with society. “The early Greeks were a litigious lot.”


In the culture of ancient Greece, the term paideia (also spelled paedeia) (; Greek: παιδεία, paideía) referred to the rearing and education of the ideal member of the polis. It incorporated both practical, subject-based schooling and a focus upon the socialization of individuals within the aristocratic order of the polis. The practical aspects of this education included subjects subsumed under the modern designation of the liberal arts (rhetoric, grammar, and philosophy are examples), as well as scientific disciplines like arithmetic and medicine. An ideal and successful member of the polis would possess intellectual, moral and physical refinement, so training in gymnastics and wrestling was valued for its effect on the body alongside the moral education which the Greeks believed was imparted by the study of music, poetry, and philosophy. This approach to the rearing of a well-rounded Greek male was common to the Greek-speaking world, with the exception of Sparta where a rigid and militaristic form of education known as the agoge was practiced.

Solonian Constitution

The Solonian Constitution was created by Solon in the early 6th century BC. At the time of Solon the Athenian State was almost falling to pieces in consequence of dissensions between the parties into which the population was divided. Solon wanted to revise or abolish the older laws of Draco. Solon promulgated a code of laws embracing the whole of public and private life, the salutary effects of which lasted long after the end of his constitution.

Under Solon's reforms, all debts were abolished and all debt-slaves were freed. The status of the hectemoroi (the "one-sixth workers"), who farmed in an early form of serfdom, was also abolished. These reforms were known as the Seisachtheia. Solon's constitution reduced the power of the old aristocracy by making wealth rather than birth a criterion for holding political positions, a system called timokratia (timocracy). Citizens were also divided based on their land production: Pentacosiomedimnoi, Hippeis, Zeugitae, and Thetes. The lower assembly was given the right to hear appeals, and Solon also created the higher assembly. Both of these were meant to decrease the power of the Areopagus, the aristocratic council. The only parts of Draco's code that Solon kept were the laws regarding homicide. The constitution was written as poetry, and as soon as it was introduced, Solon went into self-imposed exile for 10 years so he would not be tempted to take power as a tyrant.

South Stoa I (Athens)

The South Stoa I of Athens was located on the south side of the Agora, in Athens, Greece, between the Heliaia and the Enneakrounos, a southeastern fountain house. It was built around 425-400 BC (during the Classical Era). The stoa was in use until c. 150 BC, when it was replaced by South Stoa II (of Athens).

Archaeologists also theorize that the stoa may have had a second story. The two-aisled stoa opened north, with a Doric outer colonnade, an inner colonnade of unknown order and sixteen rooms which lined the southern wall. Of the sixteen rooms, one narrow room must have served as a vestibule, while the other fifteen square rooms were probably used for public dining. The rooms were probably outfitted for city magistrates fed at public expense.

Supreme Civil and Criminal Court of Greece

The Supreme Civil and Criminal Court of Greece (Greek: Άρειος Πάγος, Areopagus, i.e. the "Stone, or Hill, of Ares") is the supreme court of Greece for civil and criminal law. The Supreme Civil and Criminal Court's decisions are irrevocable. However, Greece being a member state of the Council of Europe, cases ruled by the Greek Άρειος Πάγος can still be brought to the European Court of Human Rights. If the Supreme Civil and Criminal Court concludes that a lower court violated the law or the principles of the procedure, then it can order the rehearing of the case by the lower court. It examines only legal and not factual issues and it is the highest degree of judicial resort. The court consists of the president and the attorney-general, ten vice-presidents, sixty five areopagites and seventeen deputy attorneys-general. The members of the Supreme Court enjoy functional and personal independence, as do all members of the judiciary, and are members for life, but they are required by law to retire at the age of 67 (article 87 paragraph 1 and article 88 paragraphs 1 and 5 of the Constitution of Greece).

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