Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
→ Complaints about Religious Matters.
Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of March 26, 2003
page 17 of 23
Plot on a Map
The Assembly also dealt with questions of religious ritual and accusations of impious behavior, particularly because the democracy sponsored public festivals, which were both civic events, to celebrate the glory of Athens, and religious events, to honor the gods.
There was a special meeting of the Assembly regularly held in the Theater of Dionysus after the festival of the City Dionysia (Aeschin. 2.61; Dem. 21.8, which says that this was mandated by a law [νόμος] and was to be held on the day after the Pandia, the Festival of All-Zeus). The purpose of this meeting was, at least in part, to deal publicly with any issues that arose during the Festival. Demosthenes claims to have lodged complaints against Meidias for crimes he committed during the City Dionysia (Dem. 21.1), and Aeschines mentions that a vote of censure (καταχειροτονία) was passed against Meidias in the Theater of Dionysus (Aeschin. 3.51). Demosthenes mentions the Assembly condemning a man, the father of Chariclides. The son was an Archon, and the father was serving as his Presiding Official (πάρεδρος); the father expelled a man from the Theater of Dionysus, which was proper, since the man was in the wrong seat, but in doing so the father laid a hand on him. Thus he was deemed, by the Assembly, to have profaned the Festival and was condemned (Dem. 21.178). Another man condemned for profaning the Festival was Ctesicles, who was drunk during the procession and struck a man with a lash (Dem. 21.180). Demosthenes mentions a decree, moved by Evegorus, that no one creditor may seize any property from his debtors during the Festival, and that if he does, a complaint may be lodged at the meeting of the Assembly immediately following the Festival (Dem. 21.10).
Other cases of religious profanation came before the Assembly. The Assembly convicted Euandrus of profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries because he had won a suit against Menippus and arrested him during the Mysteries (Dem. 21.175). And Aeschines claims to have prosecuted Demosthenes for guest-murder (ξενοκτόνος), an offense against the gods, and to have convicted him “in the presence of all Athenians” (ἐν ἅπασιν Ἀθηναίοις), which strongly suggests that this took place at a meeting of the Assembly (Aeschin. 3.224).
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