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ANDROLE´PSIA (ἀνδροληψία or ἀνδρολήψιον), a process of Greek international law which rested upon the ancient religious ideas of the duty of the “avenger of blood” in cases of homicide: for when the state or city in whose territory a murder had been committed refused to bring the murderer to trial, the law allowed the relatives of the deceased to arrest three citizens of the offending state and to hold them as hostages until satisfaction was given, or [p. 1.124]the murderer delivered up; and the property found upon the persons thus seized was confiscated. It is not to be regarded as a peculiarly Athenian institution; we learn from Demosthenes (de Cor. Trierarch. p. 1232.13) that the piratical acts of Athenian commanders abroad brought down reprisals on the persons and property (ἀνδροληψίας καί σύλας) of peaceable Athenian merchants and travellers. It is clearly, therefore, a part of the public law of Greece; and Pollux is quite wrong in treating it as a form of prosecution (εἶδος ἐγκλήματος, 8.50). The guilt of blood, attached to the soil of the country where a murder had been committed, only so long as the murderer remained upon its territory unpunished: the curse (ἀρὰ) ceased when he either went into exile or was brought to justice. Hence ἀνδροληψία cannot have been employed, as Pollux thought (l.c.), to enforce the extradition of an escaped criminal: if a murder were committed on Attic soil, and the murderer escaped into Boeotia, all legal and ceremonial requirements were satisfied by his change of abode [EXSILIUM]; but if an Athenian were murdered in the territory of a Boeotian city, this right would prevent that city from harbouring the murderer.

The duty of relations in such cases was commensurate with the right of inheritance; and the latter was ἐντὸς ἀνεψιότητος (Demosth. c. Macart. p. 1068.57),--a phrase which is elsewhere more precisely defined as μέχρι ἀνεψιαδῶν, “as far as second cousins.” [HERES]

For the application of this principle to the local law of Athens, our chief authority is a passage of Demosthenes (c. Aristocr. p. 648.83: the so-called “law” of § 82 is obviously compiled from the orator's own words in the next section). It is there mentioned in the most general terms, with no limitations as to the states or persons to whom it applied. It is not likely, therefore, as Weber supposes in commenting on the passage, that the right rested on a special convention, like our modern “extradition treaties;” it is much more probable, as Meier argues in one of his later writings, that as a part of the ancient jus gentium it was antecedent to all such treaties and liable to be modified by them (Meier, de Dem. Aristocr. p. 8, also in his Opusc. Acad. 2.189). In the absence of precise information we cannot positively say what was done to the hostages thus seized, or whether at Athens the right of seizing them extended to foreigners, whether ἰσοτελεῖς, μέτοικοι, or χένοι. So far as the early religious views prevailed, the latter, we may be pretty sure, would be included; but it would be quite in keeping with the spirit of the later democracy to curtail those privileges if they proved inconvenient to the full citizens. In the case of slaves, the injury according to Athenian notions would be to their master, not themselves; and he would have his remedy in an action for damages.

The forms ἀνδροληψία and ἀνδρολήψιον are treated as equivalent in the lexicons, but are rightly distinguished by Weber (ad Demosth. l.c. § 82) on a comparison of the passages where they severally occur. The right of reprisals is ἀνδρολήψιον (c. Aristocr. p. 648, § § 83, 84; p. 692.217); the act or process by which the right is enforced is ἀνδροληψία, usually in the plural (l.c. § § 82, 83; de Cor. Trierarch. § 13).

(Pollux, 8.41, 50; Harpocrat., Suid., and Etym. M. s. v.; Bekk. Anecd. p. 213, 30; Att. Process, pp. 278-281, with the corrections in Lipsius' new edition: D. and S. s. v.)

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