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and commerce, which is perfectly astonishing. There were ἀγορανόμοι, and σιτοφύλακες, and ἐπιστάται, and ἐπιμεληταί over everything, even τῶν κοπρώνων, and in separate boards for the city, and for the Peiræus1. There were besides μετρονόμοι, there were ἀστυνόμοι, who controlled flute girls and dancing girls, and scavengers; λŋral, who superintended the sale of the state monopolies; also ἀποδέκται and λογισταί. These boards consisted of numbers varying from five to fifteen, and all had fixed duties. If we consider all these offices, and how a great number of citizens over sixty years of age were constantly employed as arbitrators and on juries, we must conceive the Athenian people as very much oppressed with these self-imposed duties. Thus, then, the Attic legal system afforded ample means of redress, and by specialising its courts apparently provided for a prompt and accurate treatment of disputes.
But all these courts and boards and arbitrators were subject to an appeal to the sovereign people, sitting in juries-the dicasteries of which we hear so much. It was not thought proper to appeal to these juries until other modes of settlement had been attempted, and many of the extant orations delivered before them apologise for apparent litigiousness; but still any one who could speak well, or pay a good speech-writer, seems to have been ready enough to go before them. Consequently owing to press of business, including not only city affairs, but those of their allies, owing also to the interruptions
1 See especially the fragments quoted in Müller's Fragg. Hist. Græc. vol. ii. pp. 119, sqq.
caused by critical wars or revolutions, these juries were generally far in arrear of their business, and there was great difficulty and tediousness in getting a case settled. The authorities speak of it just as our forefathers did of a suit in Chancery1. It is, I suppose, for this reason that we find suits revived after a lapse of eight or ten years, nay even of eighteen years2. There was indeed a statute of limitations, which laid down five years as the longest period of delay in bringing an action, but it is clear that the Attic juries were often in arrear of their work, or, like the Irish juries, did not feel themselves bound by this law, and listened to a litigant, if he spoke well, even though he was excluded from pleading by the statute book.
I have thus been passing from the strong side of Attic law to its weaknesses. Indeed it seems to me that all the inferior courts, all the preliminary enquiries, were on the best possible footing, but that this appeal to a large and untrained body of men as jurors was thoroughly unsound, and fraught with great mischief. But both the Greek and the English trial by jury were at one time the great political safeguard against state oppression and injustice; and, owing to this origin, free nations become so attached to it that they are blind to its defects. And just as Ireland would now benefit beyond conception by the abolition of the jury system, so the secured Athenian (or
Cp. M. Strübing Aristophanes &c. p. 94, and Demosth. Karà Σrep. á, p. 110.
2 Cp. Lysias, p. 109; Dem. In Meid. p. 541; Pro Phorm. p. 950; In Nausim. p. 986.
any other) democracy would have thriven better had its laws been administered by courts of skilled judges. For these large bodies of average citizens, who, by the way, were not like our jurymen, unwilling occupants of the jury-box, but who made it a paid business and an amusement, did not regard the letter of the law. They allowed actions barred by the reasonable limits of time; they allowed arguments totally beside the question, though this too was illegal', for there was no competent judge to draw the line; they allowed hearsay evidence2, though that too was against the law, indeed the evidence produced in most of the speeches is of the loosest and poorest kind. Worse than all, there were no proper records kept of their decisions, and witnesses were called in to swear what had been the past decision of a jury sitting in the same city, and under the same procedures. All these things meet us at every turn in the court speeches of the Attic orators. We are amazed at seeing relationships
1 Cp. Lysias, Пpòs Σɩμŵva sub fin. and on its violation Kar' ’Epat. p. 124, Lycurgus, p. 149.
* Cp. Dem. Πρὸς Εὐβουλ. p. 1301 οὐδὲ μαρτυρεῖν ἀκοὴν ἐῶσιν οἱ νόμοι. He quotes an exception made by the law in the case of deceased people, Κατὰ Στεφ. β. p. 1131, ἀκοὴν εἶναι μαρτυρεῖν τεθνεῶτος.
3 Cp. the witnesses called in by Demosthenes in evidence of past decisions against Meidias (p. 541). This is the more remarkable, as there were state archives, in which the decrees of the popular assembly were kept under the charge of the public ypaμμateús (cp. Suidas sub. voc.). There is a most extraordinary speech of Lysias (Or. 30) against a man called Nicomachus, who was appointed to transcribe the laws of Solon in four months, but who kept them in his possession for six years, and is accused of having so falsified them as to have substituted himself for Solon. Hence there can have been no recognised duplicate extant, or such a thing could not be attempted.
proved in will cases by a man coming in and swearing that such a man's father had told him that his brother was married to such a woman, of such a house. We find the most libellous charges brought against opponents on matters totally beside the question. at issue, and even formal evidence of general bad character admitted. We find some speakers in consequence treating the jury with a sort of mingled deference and contempt which is amusing. On the former trial of this case,' they say, 'my opponent managed to tell you many well devised lies, of course you were deceived, how could it be otherwise, and you made a false decision; or else, 'You were so puzzled that you got at variance with one another, you voted at sixes and sevens, and by a small majority you came to an absurd decision'.'
It is not desirable here to go at greater length into a description of the jury system, especially as this has been so ably done by Mr. Grote. It is, however, worth repeating, that the inherent defects of any jury system were enhanced at Athens, not only by the absence of any judge to rule the law of the case, but by the great size of the jury. Many obvious inconveniences resulted. In a complicated will case, the speaker says (Dem. p. 1053): 'I had intended to make out a table of the descendants of Hagnias and show it to the jury, but then I considered that those sitting far off would not be able to see it, so I must explain it in words.' Mr. Grote has also enlarged upon the psychological peculiarities of a crowd, as contrasted with
1 Cp. Dem. p. 1104.
single individuals, and how subject it is to sudden impulses. That these were common among Attic juries, appears from the allusions to cases, where the defendant could not obtain a hearing, and when the jury decided without knowing both sides of the case. There were men condemned to death at Athens in this way1, a melancholy and striking proof that with all the complications and refinements of their legal system, these final decisions of large juries were a great flaw, in fact an inherent weakness which could not be avoided.
I do not consider the poet Aristophanes as a critic of any historical value, and all inferences from his broad farces must be received with the greatest caution and suspicion; but if he has anywhere criticised fairly and to the point, it is probably in the Wasps, where he pulls to pieces the jury system. It may be that the appointment of temporary magistrates, even to legal offices, made the decisions of special boards uncertain, and that an appeal to the people was necessary when bitter personal animosities might exist between the
1 Here is a significant passage in Lysias' 19th oration, (about the property of Aristophanes, p. 143): For I hear, and suppose that most of you know, that calumny is most dangerous. This is best illustrated by the case of several people being prosecuted on the same charge. For in most cases those who are last tried escape, because your anger being appeased, you listen to them, and are then willing to accept argument and evidence. Consider then that Nicophemus and Aristophanes died untried, before any one heard them convicted before him of any crime. For no one even saw them after their arrest, nor were their bodies even given back to their friends for burial, but so great a calamity fell upon them, that in addition to all the rest, they were deprived even of this.' Cp. the same orator, pp. 164-174, and Isocrates, ii. pp. 201, 208.