Dēmos · Classical Athenian Democracy · a Stoa Publication
S.C. Todd, selections by Michael de Brauw, edition of March 16, 2003
page 20 of 50
dike, pl. dikai · A concept of wide scope: “justice,” “good order,” “judgement.” But it can also refer to the process by which a just settlement is determined, thus “a lawsuit,” “a trial,” and even “the case which one pleads” or “the penalty which one has to pay.” In the sence of “lawsuit,” dike can be used either generically, to refer to any type of indictment, or else (more commonly) in a semi-technical sense, to denote the older “private suit” (which only the aggrieved party or his immediate or his immediate personal representatives could bring) as opposed to the newer “public suit” (graphe), which could be brought by any citizen in good standing; it should however be noted that the category of public procedure was broader than that of graphe, and included a number of extraordinary procedures which were not themselves graphai, see for instance svv. apagoge, apophasis, eisangelia, euthunai, phasis.
Note: It seems that these indictments in Athenian law were only allowed if use of the dike or graphe procedure against a particular offence was authorised by statute; whether the defendant’s alleged behavior fell within the terms of this offence could of course be a matter for debate. An indictment was normally described as a dike (or graphe, as appropriate), qualified by the name of the offence, usually in the genitive case: thus graphe hubreos, a public indictment for hubris.
page 20 of 50