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Sycophancy and Attitudes to Litigation 

Matthew R. Christ, edition of March 26, 2003

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· Introduction ·

This article was originally written for the online discussion series “Athenian Law in its Democratic Context,” organized by Adriaan Lanni and sponsored by Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies.

Read about the evidence
Aristophanes (Aristoph. Wasps).

Suggested Reading: Aristophanes, Wasps

Plot on a Map

Athens gave birth not only to democratic legal process but also to a lively discussion of the proper role of law and litigation in the lives of the citizens of a democracy. While Athenians were committed to their system of popular courts and understood that litigation could be essential for preserving the “rights” and property of citizens and protecting the public interest, they were also acutely conscious that litigation could be abused and exploited for private ends. Like the citizens of modern democracies, Athenians had to come to terms with the fact that the legal process can be used not only as a means of obtaining justice but as a weapon for achieving narrowly selfish ends.

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