Law, Violence, and Community in Classical Athens

Law, Violence, and Community in Classical Athens

By (author) David Cohen

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The theme of this book is 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, he emphasises the way in which the judicial process operates in an agonistic social field. This perspective illuminates the social dimensions of litigation and the legal regulation of violence, and helps to explain otherwise puzzling features of Athenian litigation.

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  • Paperback | 228 pages
  • 152 x 226 x 20mm | 381.02g
  • 05 Oct 1995
  • CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge
  • English
  • bibliography, index
  • 0521388376
  • 9780521388375
  • 1,186,994

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Review quote

'Cohen's is one of those exciting and rare books that take a large piece of historical orthodoxy, explain the intellectual matrix from which the accepted belief derives and present a cogently argued alternative ... [it] is one of the most perceptive and original works in Greek history to have been published for several years.' The Times Literary Supplement

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Back cover copy

The theme of this book is 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, he emphasizes the way in which the judicial process operates in an agonistic social field. In this light, it appears that judges and litigants alike view the courts as a competitive arena where ongoing conflicts are played out, continued, and exacerbated according to a logic characteristic of feuding societies. A sustained account of Athenian litigation places this subject in a new theoretical perspective and offers a new interpretation of the social and political dimensions of legal process. This book will be of interest to a broad audience of students and scholars in classics, history, anthropology, sociology, law, and political science.

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