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Marriage and Adultery:. Lysias 1: On the Murder of Eratosthenes. Lecture Outline. Marriage in Athens Details of Lysias 1 Details of the Law of Adultery Is this a justifiable homicide?. What was Marriage in Athens. Wedding feast and dancing The unveiling of the bride

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marriage and adultery

Marriage and Adultery:

Lysias 1: On the Murder of Eratosthenes

lecture outline
Lecture Outline
  • Marriage in Athens
  • Details of Lysias 1
  • Details of the Law of Adultery
  • Is this a justifiable homicide?
what was marriage in athens
What was Marriage in Athens
  • Wedding feast and dancing
  • The unveiling of the bride
  • The wedding procession
  • Easy procedure
  • Husband would dismiss wife
  • Not a common outcome
  • Damaging to woman’s status
what type of evidence
What type of evidence?
  • Orations of 5th and 4th century
  • Information about property and family
  • Elite source
courtroom drama
Courtroom Drama
  • Lysias 1 – On the Murder of Eratosthenes
  • Heard before the Delphinion – a court for justified homicide
  • Euphiletos – husband accused of murdering Eratosthenes
  • Euphiletos – naïve and trusting husband – incapable of premeditated homicide
  • Eratosthenes - seducer and threat to social values
the crime
The Crime
  • “…all humanity considers this kind of violation to be the most outrageous of acts.” (2)
  • “I believe, gentlemen, that what I have to demonstrate is this: that Eratosthenes seduced my wife and corrupted her, that he brought shame on my children and insulted me by entering my house, that there was no cause for enmity between him and me apart from this, and that I did not commit this deed for money, to make myself rich instead of poor, nor for any other advantage except revenge, as the law allows.” (4)
relationship between man and wife
Relationship between man and wife
  • “…when I decided to get married and brought a wife into my house, for some time I did not wish to impose on her or let her be too free to do whatever she wanted. I used to keep an eye on her as far as I could, and give her a suitable amount of attention. But from the time my son was born I began to have more confidence in her, and I gave her full responsibility for my house, as I believed this to be the best type of domestic arrangement.” (6)
the funeral
The Funeral
  • “It was at her funeral, which my wife attended, that she was seen by this man and was eventually seduced.” (8)
  • Brought his wife out into the public
the house
The House
  • Modest, two story
  • Women’s quarters upstairs
  • Men’s quarters downstairs
beginning to suspect
Beginning to Suspect
  • “… I said nothing, as I believed this was the truth. I noticed though, gentleman, that her face was made up, although her brother had died not thirty days earlier.” (14)
  • "Euphiletos, do not suppose that I have approached you from any desire to interfere in your business. The person who is disgracing you and your wife happens to be our mutual enemy. If you catch your slave, the one who goes to market for you and waits on you, and if you torture her, you will find out everything. It is," she said, "Eratosthenes from the deme of Oea who is responsible for this; he has not only seduced your wife but many other women, too. It's his specialty.“ (16)
the pin drops
The Pin Drops
  • “Every detail came to my mind, and I was full of suspicion.” (17)
  • To the slave girl; “Tell me no lies, but speak the truth.” (18)
the day of the murder
The Day of the Murder
  • Husband invites friend Sostratus for dinner
  • Altered by the slave girl -
  • “I went around to different neighbours, and found that some were not at home and others were out of town. Gathering the largest group I could find of those who were at home, I made my way back to the house.” (23)
court in the act
Court in the Act!
  • “took torches from the nearest inn and entered… the door was open because the girl had seen to it. We pushed open the door of the bedroom, and those of us who were the first to enter saw him still lying next to my wife; the ones coming in later saw him standing naked on the bed.” (24)
killing an adulterer
Killing an Adulterer
  • “I struck him, gentlemen, and knocked him down. Then I twisted him round and tied his hands behind his back. I asked him why he was disgracing my house by entering it. He confessed that he was in the wrong, and he begged and entreated me not to kill him, but to agree to a financial settlement.” (25)
the murderer s speech
The Murderer’s Speech
  •  "Your executioner is not I, but the law of the city, whose violation you thought less important than your pleasures. It was your choice to commit an offence like this against my wife and my children, rather than to obey the laws and behave properly.“ (26)
just homicide
Just Homicide
  • “… explicitly decreed that a man should not be found guilty of murder if he catches an adulterer in the act with his wife and takes the vengeance I did.” (30)
punishing rape
Punishing Rape
  • “You hear, gentlemen, that it lays down that if anyone rapes a free man or child, he owes double the damages. If he rapes a woman, in those cases that carry the penalty of death, he is liable at the same rate. Thus, gentlemen, rapists are thought to deserve a lighter penalty than seducers, because the law condemned the latter to death, but assigned double the amount of the damages to the former.” (32)
the laws acquit me
“… the laws acquit me…”
  • Euphiletos claims – law acquits him
  • “… they [the law] also require me to exact this punishment. It is for you to decide whether they should maintain their authority or become worthless.” (34)
defending against accusations
Defending Against Accusations
  • Accused of; Getting the slave girl to bring Eratosthenes to the house (37)
  • Accused of; prearranging with his friends to meet at his house (41)
  • Accused of; having previous enmity between himself and Eratosthenes (43)
summing up
Summing Up
  • “I believe then, gentleman, that I exacted this penalty not for personal reasons, but on behalf of the whole city.” (47)
  • “As it is, I am now in danger of losing my life, my property and everything else because I obeyed the laws of the city.” (50)
law of adultery
Law of Adultery
  • Adultery was defined as a kakourgoi - an evil doing.
  • Moicheia– meaning illicit sexual intercourse
  • Moichos – man who engages in moichei
  • Wronged husband could kill an adulterer or demand financial compensation
punishment for an adulterer
Punishment for an adulterer
  • “in accordance with the law which enacts that, if a man unlawfully imprisons another on a charge of adultery, the person in question may indict him before the Thesmothetae on a charge of illegal imprisonment; and if he shall convict the one who imprisoned him and prove that he was the victim of an unlawful plot, he shall be let off scot-free, and his sureties shall be released from their engagement; but if it shall appear that he was an adulterer, the law bids his sureties give him over to the one who caught him in the act, and he in the court-room may inflict upon him, as upon one guilty of adultery, whatever treatment he pleases, provided he use no knife.” Against Neaera (66-67)
euphiletos alternatives
Euphiletos’ alternatives
  • Customary not to kill adulterer
  • Ransom and payments
  • rhaphanidosis
what happens to the wife
What happens to the wife?
  • No physical harm done to wife
  • She must be divorced
  • Banned from public religious festival
  • However, she could remarry!
the case
The Case


Euphiletos the Husband

Eratosthenes, the adulterer