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Phonos

φόνος). 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. 11). 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 for manslaughter. All suits involving questions of homicide (φονικαὶ δίκαι) 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.

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