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Adeia in Fifth-Century Athens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 September 2021

Alberto Esu*
University of Mannheim*
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This article discusses the rationale of adeia (immunity) in the fifth-century Athenian legal system. It argues that adeia was designed to grant a temporary suspension of the effect of a law in exceptional circumstances without allowing for any permanent legal change. This article explores the origin of adeia and the relevant ideology underpinning the legal procedure. It provides a comprehensive reconstruction of the legal procedure and analyses the extensive use of adeia for collecting information during the investigation of the profanation of the Mysteries and the mutilation of the herms in 415 BC. This article also discusses the implications of the use of adeia for public investigation and emergency powers in Classical Athens.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies

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* This article has benefited from invaluable feedback from Mirko Canevaro, Celeste De Blois, Benjamin Gray, Edward Harris, David Lewis, Peter Liddel, Christian Mann, Elisabetta Poddighe, Linda Rocchi, Benjamin Straumann, Matteo Zaccarini, the two anonymous referees as well as the former and current editors of JHS, Douglas Cairns and Lin Foxhall, and the audiences at the Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik in Munich, the 2018 Meeting of Young Historians of Ancient Greek Law in Athens and the University of Edinburgh. Any remaining mistakes are my own. The Leverhulme Trust funded part of the work for this article.


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