). The Greek term for manslaughter, homicide.
Originally in Greek the right of private vengeance was recognized, and only a ceremonious
purification was required of those who thus took life (De Caede Herod.
This primitive custom was disused at Athens as early as the time of the Draconian legislature,
and survived in only a few special instances, as where the husband might kill the adulterer
whom he caught in the act (see Adulterium
personal chastity might also be defended by bloodshed. From this time, kinsmen of a deceased
person, instead of becoming the lawful slayers of his murderer, were rather the legitimate
prosecutors before the courts. In Attic law φόνος ἑκούσιος
is the term for murder, and φόνος ἀκούσιος
manslaughter. All suits involving questions of homicide (φονικαὶ
) were under the jurisdiction of the Archon Basileus, assisted by the Ephetae.
They were tried in the Court of the Areopagus, or in any of the four courts over which the
Ephetae presided. The proceedings took place in the open air, lest the judges should be under
the same roof with one accused of impiety. The Archon Basileus presided, and the trial
occupied two days. On the third day the judges voted on the question of the acquittal of
the accused. Wilful murder was punished with death ( Antiph. l. c. 10); less serious cases by
fine or exile. For details, see Ephetae