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A judicial court of high antiquity at Athens, consisting of fifty-one judges elected from the noblest Athenian families. It gave decisions in cases of murder at five different places, differing according to the character of the case. If the crime had a religious character, the Archon Basileus presided. (See ARCHONS.) Solon did not abolish this court, but handed over to the newly organized Areopagus its most important fuuctions,-the power of deciding cases of intentional murder, poisoning, malicious wounding, arson, and the like. The nearest relations of the murdered person were bound by religious sanction to avenge his blood. At the funeral, and after that in the market place, they uttered a solemn denunciation, which bade the murderer keep away from all public places, assemblies, and sanctuaries, and to appear before the court. The Archon Basileus, after the charge had been announced and received, repeated this denunciation. The preliminary investigation, and determination of the place where the court was to be held, followed at three appointed times in three successive months. The case was not finally dealt with till the fourth month. On the first two days of the final trial the two parties, after solemnly taking an oath, conducted their case in person. On the third day judgment was given, in case the accused had not gone into voluntary exile. If he had, his property was confiscated, but he was pursued no further. Intentional murder was punished with death, malicious wounding with exile; the man's property was confiscated in both cases. In the court of Areopagus, if the votes of the judges were equal, the accused was acquitted. If the homicide were legally allowed (as, for instance, that of an adulterer) or legally innocent (as in self-defence), the case was investigated in the Delphinion, a sanctuary of the Delphic Apollo; and only a religious purification was exacted. Cases of unintentional homicide, murder of an alien, and instigation to murder, were taken at the Palladion, a sanctuary of Pallas. Instigation to murder was punished with banishment and confiscation of property, the murder of an alien with banishment, unintentional murder with banishment, until the kinsmen of the murdered person gave permission to the slayer to return. In the time of Demosthenes it would seem that the cases which used to be heard at the Delphinion and Palladion were banded over to the Heliastae. Thus the Ephetae had only two courts left them, that in Phreatto, a place in the Piraeeus, near the sea, and the Prytaneum. The former had only to judge in the rare event of a person banished for unintentional homicide being charged with intentional murder. As he might not set foot on land, he was heard standing in a ship, and if found guilty was punished with banishment for life. At the Prytaneum a regular court was held on in animate objects and animals which bad been the cause of death to a human being. The president of the four old Ionic tribes removed the object or the animal over the border. Again, if a murder had been committed and the offender was undiscovered, this court had to pronounce lawful sentence against him [Dem. 23 §§ 64-79; Aristotle, Const. Athens, 57].
Type: Standard
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