The Gortyn Law Code In Ancient Greece

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The Gortyn law code was a series of civil laws in use at around 450 B.C.E in modern day Crete . Unlike the name suggests these laws were not a code, but specific ad hoc responses to crisis as they occurred in Gortyn and surrounding areas . The writing itself focuses on civil laws such as divorce, rape and property rights. The majority of punishments for crimes in Gortyn were monetary rather than physical pain or imprisonment, like other city states in ancient Greece. The laws themselves can also shed light on other law practices throughout Greece at this time, as many law makers would visit Gortyn and study the inscriptions. However, due to the vast differences between many city states as well as change over time there are many differences…show more content…
The original inscriptions are thought to be around 600 lines that were spread over 12 columns, all located around a building 100 feet in diameter . Meaning that it is now considered the oldest and most complete example of a code of ancient Greek law . It runs in a tradition of Cretan law which as a whole represents the only large collection of Greek law from antiquity outside Athens. Therefore, the code itself can be fairly easily compared with Athenian law, as well as the punishments in the Athenian judicial system. Due to some of the conservative elements, as well as the oral tradition common in Ancient Greek societies, it is thought that some, if not many, of the laws present in the code have been passed down from previous generations. Consequently, it can be inferred that due to the post hoc nature of the text in addition to oral tradition, many of the laws of the code could have been influenced by other…show more content…
In Gortyn rape was illegal, whereas in the city state of Sparta during a similar period the rape of an individual women was not a crime and the rape of women by young men was even encouraged . Under Draconian law in Ancient Greece rape was similar to that of Sparta in that it wasn’t illegal. However, the consent of women during sex was irrelevant to Draconian law who saw it was a man’s responsibility to take what he could if he was in the position of power . However, as time passed in certain societies, such as Athens and Gortyn, rape was made illegal, the punishments for this crime did differ between societies and social classes. In Gortyn rape was punished by fines. The fine of slaves for committing a rape was double that of rape committed by a free person, whereas the punishment for rape committed by a free person on a slave or apetairoi was one tenth what it would be for raping a free person . Athenian law punished rape far more seriously, with both Plato and Aristotle both mention any man who violates a women may be killed by the women, her father, brother or son . This one example helps show the differing social and political rights of both male and female citizens in different social classes in Gortyn. It also aids to display a crucial social custom in Ancient Greece that is acceptable, and expected for close male relatives to protect and seek

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