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.
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,
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
), 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
The duty of relations in such cases was commensurate with the right of
inheritance; and the latter was ἐντὸς
(Demosth. c. Macart.
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.
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.
p. 8, also in his Opusc. Acad.
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,
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
are treated as equivalent in the
lexicons, but are rightly distinguished by Weber (ad
§ 82) on a
comparison of the passages where they severally occur. The right of
reprisals is ἀνδρολήψιον
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.
(Pollux, 8.41, 50; Harpocrat., Suid., and Etym. M.
p. 213, 30; Att. Process,
278-281, with the corrections in Lipsius' new edition: D. and S. s. v.)