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Policing Athens:
Social Control in the Attic Lawsuits, 420-320 B.C.
Virginia Hunter

Hardcover | 1994 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691032689


From household gossip to public beatings, this social history explores the many channels through which Athenians maintained public order. Virginia Hunter draws mostly on Attic court proceedings, which allowed for a wide range of evidence, including common rumors about a defendant's character and testimony, obtained under torture, of slaves against their masters. She describes Athenian "policing" as a form of social control that took place across a range of private and public levels. Not only does policing appear to have been a collective enterprise, but its methods were embedded in a variety of social institutions, resulting in the blurring of the line between state and society.

Hunter's inquiry into topics such as household authority, disputes among kin, the presence of slaves in the house, gossip in the home and neighborhood, and forms of public punishment reveals a continuum extending from self-regulation among kin to punitive actions enforced by the state. Recognizing the bias of legal documents toward the wealthy, Hunter concentrates on exposing the voices of the less powerful and less privileged members of society, including women and slaves. In so doing she is among the first to address systematically such important issues as the authority of women, self-help, and corporal punishment.


"By her careful examination of the ancient sources and by asking some pertinent and pointed questions, Virginia Hunter's ground-breaking and scholarly study gently subverts some of our most cherished notions about power and liberty in the earliest flowering of democracy."--The Times Literary Supplement


"This book represents a fundamental and extremely important contribution to Athenian social and political history. Virginia Hunter . . . greatly advances our knowledge on a whole series of issues, such as the role and treatment of slaves, social practices related to litigation and prosecution, and maintenance of public order."--David Cohen, University of California, Berkeley

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File created: 2/24/2017

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