Law, Violence, and Community in Classical Athens / Edition 1

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This book examines the legal regulation of violence and the role of litigation in Athenian society. Using comparative anthropological and historical perspectives, David Cohen challenges traditional evolutionary and functionalist accounts of the development of legal process. Examining Athenian theories of social conflict and the rule of law, as well as actual litigation involving the regulation of violence, the book emphasizes the way in which the judicial process operates in an agonistic society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a challenging and rewarding book that further breaks the traditional mold. Instead of studying ancient law as largely an adjunct of the history of politics, by paying greater attention to the agency, interests and values of the individual, the family, and the community, Cohen's contribution marks a shift of focus in the scholarship on Athenian law—a most timely and welcome one." Richard Lim, The American Journal of Legal History

"...Cohen's new book demonstrates that the Athenian courts and their rhetoric continue to inspire some of the most provocative and methodologically interesting recent work in ancient social history." American Historical Review

"...a provocative work. All scholars interested in Athenian law and values will want to consider it closely." Bryn Mawr Classical Review

" excellent work that deserves to be read by all students of Greek social and legal history." Choice

"...provides an insightful and informative look at the legal regulation of violence in Classical Athenian society and the system of litigation employed by its members....The author's method of addressing the subject of society and legal issues is refreshing. The work is thought provoking in the way it looks at the Athenian legal system, but is also enlightening when considering Athenian society as a whole." Steven A. Sayles, The Celator

"This is a challenging and rewarding book that further breaks the traditional mold....Cohen's contribution marks a shift of focus in the scholarship on Athenian law—a most timely and welcome one." The American Journal of Legal History

"...Cohen presents a convincing analysis of Athenian litigation as a form of social conflict and political role playing. Includes a full and helpful bibliography of recent anthropologically oriented literature." George A. Sheets, Religious Studies Review

"Law, Violence and Community is a thought-provoking study....all will benefit from reading it." Ian Morris, Law and History Review

Cohen (rhetoric, U. of California-Berkeley) brings comparative anthropological and historical perspectives to bear on the legal regulation of violence and the role of litigation in Athenian society. Challenging traditional evolutionary and functionalist accounts of the development of the legal process, he finds that both judges and litigants viewed the courts as a competitive arena where ongoing conflicts are played out, continued, and exacerbated according to a logic characteristic of feuding societies. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521388375
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Series: Key Themes in Ancient History Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 214
  • Sales rank: 1,287,020
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; Part I. The Realm of Theory: 1. Law and order; 2. Theorising Athenian society: the problem of stability; 3. Theorising Athenian society: the rule of law; Part II. The Realm of the Courts: 4. Rhetoric, litigation and the values of an agonistic society; 5. Litigation as feud; 6. Violence and litigation; 7. Hubris and the legal regulation of sexual violence; 8. Litigation and the family; Conclusion: litigation, democracy and the courts; Bibliographical essay; Bibliography; Index.

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