MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM OR LACK THEREOF

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amyntoros
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MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM OR LACK THEREOF

Post by amyntoros »

Starting a new thread per Agesilaos' remark below. (Show trial referred to is that of Kassander versus Olympias and the orders for her death.)
agesilaos wrote:I think we need to start a new thread on the Macedonian legal system or lack thereof; I will just observe that the fact that Kassandros went through the show trial and that it took the relatives' performance to sway the Assembly gives the lie to any notion that

'At this time Kassander is 'de facto' Head of State in Macedon, with no challenger for the title. His word is, literally, law.'

Once he was in power he did not bother with such niceties, both Alexander IV and Rhoxane were simply disposed of without a murmur from the People when it became apparent.
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Re: MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM OR LACK THEREOF

Post by agesilaos »

Information on the legal process under the Argaeads is not plentiful and for the most part our information come as incidental detail to anecdotes. Where trials are described they are set pieces that betray the influence of later rhetorical re-working.

We can be reasonably certain that the dispensing of Justice was not solely the business of the King, as Plutarch (Sayings of Kings and Commanders, 178 available at http://www.attalus.org/old/sayings1.html ) reports

He made one of Antipater's recommendation a judge; and perceiving afterwards that his hair and beard were coloured, he removed him, saying, I could not think one that was faithless in his hair could be trusty in his deeds


It follows that the King appointed local judges, just how local is another matter and it is unlikely that the developed system we find in the Antigonid record obtained in Argaead times, but it is not unlikely that the Royal cities founded throughout the kingdom by Philip aped the structures of their more politically developed southern cousins; we have epigraphic evidence of embassies from cities to kings. Philippi sent to Alexander, probably while he was in Asia, for a judgement on some territorial dispute with the surrounding Thracians (SEG 34 664), the stele is quite fragmentary, in fact Badian used it as an example in his 1989 paper, 'History from Square Brackets', (Zeitschrift fuer Papyrologie und Epigrafik, Bd. 79 pp59-70 available online at http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/ifa/zp ... 079059.pdf ). That they sent an appeal to Alexander begs the question, did Antipatros find in favour of the Thracians? Or was the Strategos in Europe not competent to judge?

Whatever the answer it does seem that the King was the final level in the system for Plutarch also has this tale:
While he sat as judge in the cause of one Machaetas, he fell asleep, and for want of minding his arguments, gave judgement against him. And when being enraged he cried out, I appeal; To whom, said he, will you appeal ? [179] To you yourself, O king, said he, when you are awake to hear me with attention. Then Philippus rousing and coming to himself, and perceiving Machaetas was injured, although he did not reverse the sentence, he paid the fine himself.
The point of Philip’s retort would be lost if he was not the ultimate appeal Court himself. But that also supports the idea that there were other judges against whose decisions the Macedonians might appeal, and contra Athenian practice women had independent rights under the law as we can tell from these two parallel stories:
A poor old woman petitioned and dunned him often to hear her cause; and he answered, I am not at leisure; the old woman bawled out, Do not reign then. He admired the speech, and immediately heard her and others
And Demetrios 42 ii
On one occasion, when he was thought to be riding abroad in a more affable mood than usual, and seemed to encounter his subjects without displeasure, there was a large concourse of people who presented him with written petitions. He received them all and folded them away in his cloak, whereupon the people were delighted and escorted him on his way; but when he came to the bridge over the Axius, he shook out the folds of his cloak and cast all the petitions into the river. 3 This was a great vexation to the Macedonians, who thought themselves insulted, not ruled, and they called to mind, or listened to those who called to mind, how reasonable Philip used to be in such matters, and how accessible. An old woman once assailed Demetrius as he was passing by, and demanded many times that he give her a hearing. "I have no time," said Demetrius. "Then don't be king," screamed the old woman. 4 Demetrius was stung to the quick, and after thinking upon the matter, went back to his house, and postponing everything else, for several days devoted himself entirely to those who wished audience of him, beginning with the old woman who had rebuked him.
There is plenty more to say but that will do for pt 1, just had to start the ball rolling.
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Re: MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM OR LACK THEREOF

Post by Nicator »

I wished I'd seen this thread earlier...but now, (RIP Agesilaos), we'll just have to hope some other pothos members have some knowledge in this interesting area...

The traditions of common and natural law are undatable, though, the Code of Hammurabi, Roman Law, English common law, and more modern forms are available. There is an interesting quote from Anaxarchus, which sheds some light on ancient Greek law. The context here, of course, is the (military) code of Macedonian law, which may be decidedly different than law under non-martial law contexts, where the event occurred...

From The Epic of Alexander (C) All Rights Reserved

Excerpt from The Philotas Affair...
"Alexander presided over the case
With Six thousand troops at the trial based
And the body of Dymnus in the center placed
After a long drawn silence, Philotas faced -
His accusers, hand tied, in a threadbare cloak
He quickly, with shaken confidence, spoke
“Cebalinus’ story seemed fictitious”
“I never believed that it was seditious”
Alexander produced a letter from -
Philotas’ father; the Gen’ral Parmenion "

...

Excerpt from The Sack of Cleitus the Black...
"He was inconsolable in his great shame
Until Anaxarchus helped him allay blame
As he came to his room and with kind words told -
Alexander of an ancient parable
“Come now, Alexander”, Anaxarchus said
“The world looks to you, yet you grovel in bed”
“For wise men of old that sat by Zeus’ side”
“Claimed whatever Zeus may do, is justified”
“All acts of a king, should be considered just”
“First by himself, then by the rest of us” "

...We see the origins of common law here with the gallery of troops attending the trial of Philotas, while the king presides. And the, more official definition of the king's "all powerful status" 'before the court', after the murder of Cleitus. Common law, at its core, lends itself to the sovereign, as an instrument of justice, limited only by a jury, which is not seen in either incident. Nor, is a magistrate seen in either case. So, what we have is a sort of mock military tribunal, which serves the sovereign's needs. Though, the six thousand in the gallery area, are presumed to take the part of the jury...they are obviously, largely lacking in the full information of the alleged crime. And in the field, the king may be presumed to be the magistrate. Though, being as he is part and parcel to the case itself, he cannot lawfully assume this role.
Later Nicator

Thus, rain sodden and soaked, under darkness cloaked,
Alexander began, his grand plan, invoked...

The Epic of Alexander
sean_m
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Re: MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM OR LACK THEREOF

Post by sean_m »

The story of the advice which Anaxarchus of Abdera gave to Alexander (Plut. Al. 52) has some similarities to and some differences from Herodotus' story of how Cambyses decided whether it was lawful to marry his sister (Hdt. 3.31).

I am in the middle of translating something which looks at the picture of Persian justice in Herodotus. Herodotus gives a two-sided picture: on one hand he talks about royal judges of unimpeachable reputation whom a king could ask for advice, but on the other hand he shows the kings assigning arbitrary punishments and the judges being punished for accepting bribes. One way to read this would be that Persian law in practice was different from Persian law as the Persians thought it ought to be; another way would be to see this as a criticism of the Persians by outsiders (sort of like accusing Donald Trump of being a bad businessman today).

Of course, as Agesilaos says, a case which the king of the Macedonians decided may be like a case which the US Supreme Court decides today- so anecdotes about Alexander and the Diadochoi may not be the best way to understand how most cases were decided. In Achaemenid Egypt and Babylonia we can read the records of legal decisions at a low level, but such sources are not as common in early Macedonia.
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Re: MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM OR LACK THEREOF

Post by Nicator »

sean_m wrote:The story of the advice which Anaxarchus of Abdera gave to Alexander (Plut. Al. 52) has some similarities to and some differences from Herodotus' story of how Cambyses decided whether it was lawful to marry his sister (Hdt. 3.31).

I am in the middle of translating something which looks at the picture of Persian justice in Herodotus. Herodotus gives a two-sided picture: on one hand he talks about royal judges of unimpeachable reputation whom a king could ask for advice, but on the other hand he shows the kings assigning arbitrary punishments and the judges being punished for accepting bribes. One way to read this would be that Persian law in practice was different from Persian law as the Persians thought it ought to be; another way would be to see this as a criticism of the Persians by outsiders (sort of like accusing Donald Trump of being a bad businessman today).

Of course, as Agesilaos says, a case which the king of the Macedonians decided may be like a case which the US Supreme Court decides today- so anecdotes about Alexander and the Diadochoi may not be the best way to understand how most cases were decided. In Achaemenid Egypt and Babylonia we can read the records of legal decisions at a low level, but such sources are not as common in early Macedonia.

Interesting stuff.

A few points to ponder:

1. Common law, as English common law, is a unique process in the world of law. It is generally, and loosely, dated to 1215 at the signing of the Magna Carta. But it draws on ancient sources for its structure, which make it undatable. It is most amenable to the common man and has the potential to keep a tyrannical government in check. Because of this 'potential', it has been largely eradicated from the courts and from the mind of man.
2. Civil law, as Roman civil law, is the legal system that we've all been accustomed to watching on our propaganda outlets ad infinitum. In this system, the state holds the power. This system was placed into the American courts in 1938, in place of common law. However, the common law court is still technically available for those who wish to learn its precepts and enforce its procedures in the courts.

There is a quiet revolution underway between these two systems that has the potential to shake the very foundations of the elite power structures on this planet.

The important thing to note is the 'show' trial aspect of Alexander's infamous cases. This 'type' of show of justice was noted on www.1215.org to be useful for ameliorating the masses during a trial against one of the king's subjects.

For example: Jack stole a fruit from the king's prized fig trees. Instead of appearing the tyrant, which has serious implications and may backfire, the king presses charges and forces Jack to go to court. The king, as the tribunal, has nearly 100% of the power in this common law tribunal, limited only by the defendant's nearly unlimited ability to demand a trial by jury. The judge, known in common law as the magistrate, is quite powerless (note the extreme difference between the judges power under common law and civil law) and exists only to administer the court and execute the tribunal's orders. If the tribunal's orders are frivolous, the defendant may call for a trial by jury to counteract such frivolity. Or, he may counterclaim the tribunal, thus making himself a tribunal in reverse.

So, in this regard, we do see a bit of the primitive traditions of what would become the common law, taking place. However, the king plays the part of both the tribunal AND the administer. The 6,000 in attendance are more than the 25 jurors (and I do realize that being in attendance is not the same as being in the jury box) required under English common law, but they're not provided with the information required to make an informed decision. And are thus, easily swayed by Alexander's rhetoric.

Nevertheless, their appearance provides the necessary minimum to guarantee that the conspirators were given a 'fair trial'. i.e...We were all there, we saw it, they conspired. So, the 6,000 served an extremely valuable purpose for this 'mockery' of justice. And this is why the educational fortification of the people involved in the common law system is so incredibly important.

Beyond that, your translation of Persian justice is of great interest. I'd like to (and I can name several others outside of pothos that might also express an interest) read about your findings.
Later Nicator

Thus, rain sodden and soaked, under darkness cloaked,
Alexander began, his grand plan, invoked...

The Epic of Alexander
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Re: MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM OR LACK THEREOF

Post by Nicator »

sean_m wrote:The story of the advice which Anaxarchus of Abdera gave to Alexander (Plut. Al. 52) has some similarities to and some differences from Herodotus' story of how Cambyses decided whether it was lawful to marry his sister (Hdt. 3.31).

I am in the middle of translating something which looks at the picture of Persian justice in Herodotus. Herodotus gives a two-sided picture: on one hand he talks about royal judges of unimpeachable reputation whom a king could ask for advice, but on the other hand he shows the kings assigning arbitrary punishments and the judges being punished for accepting bribes. One way to read this would be that Persian law in practice was different from Persian law as the Persians thought it ought to be; another way would be to see this as a criticism of the Persians by outsiders (sort of like accusing Donald Trump of being a bad businessman today).
Can I ask, why do you have to 'translate' this piece from Herodotus? Is it not already translated and available?
Later Nicator

Thus, rain sodden and soaked, under darkness cloaked,
Alexander began, his grand plan, invoked...

The Epic of Alexander
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Re: MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM OR LACK THEREOF

Post by sean_m »

Nicator wrote:
sean_m wrote:The story of the advice which Anaxarchus of Abdera gave to Alexander (Plut. Al. 52) has some similarities to and some differences from Herodotus' story of how Cambyses decided whether it was lawful to marry his sister (Hdt. 3.31).

I am in the middle of translating something which looks at the picture of Persian justice in Herodotus. Herodotus gives a two-sided picture: on one hand he talks about royal judges of unimpeachable reputation whom a king could ask for advice, but on the other hand he shows the kings assigning arbitrary punishments and the judges being punished for accepting bribes. One way to read this would be that Persian law in practice was different from Persian law as the Persians thought it ought to be; another way would be to see this as a criticism of the Persians by outsiders (sort of like accusing Donald Trump of being a bad businessman today).
Can I ask, why do you have to 'translate' this piece from Herodotus? Is it not already translated and available?
It is an article by another scholar which collects all the examples of crime and punishment in Herodotus and Ctesias and compares them to one another and to the cuneiform sources. Making the article public is up to the person who hired me to translate it! I might be able to do a blog post on it one of these days ... but if I spend too long writing on the Internet for free, I will never finish my dissertation, and never get a fair wage for my work.

Thanks for reminding me of the story about Anaxarchus which I had forgotten! I remembered more about Pyrro of Ellis thanks to his appearance in a L. Sprague de Camp novel.
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Re: MACEDONIAN LEGAL SYSTEM OR LACK THEREOF

Post by Nicator »

sean_m wrote:
Nicator wrote:
sean_m wrote:The story of the advice which Anaxarchus of Abdera gave to Alexander (Plut. Al. 52) has some similarities to and some differences from Herodotus' story of how Cambyses decided whether it was lawful to marry his sister (Hdt. 3.31).

I am in the middle of translating something which looks at the picture of Persian justice in Herodotus. Herodotus gives a two-sided picture: on one hand he talks about royal judges of unimpeachable reputation whom a king could ask for advice, but on the other hand he shows the kings assigning arbitrary punishments and the judges being punished for accepting bribes. One way to read this would be that Persian law in practice was different from Persian law as the Persians thought it ought to be; another way would be to see this as a criticism of the Persians by outsiders (sort of like accusing Donald Trump of being a bad businessman today).

Can I ask, why do you have to 'translate' this piece from Herodotus? Is it not already translated and available?
It is an article by another scholar which collects all the examples of crime and punishment in Herodotus and Ctesias and compares them to one another and to the cuneiform sources. Making the article public is up to the person who hired me to translate it! I might be able to do a blog post on it one of these days ... but if I spend too long writing on the Internet for free, I will never finish my dissertation, and never get a fair wage for my work.

Thanks for reminding me of the story about Anaxarchus which I had forgotten! I remembered more about Pyrro of Ellis thanks to his appearance in a L. Sprague de Camp novel.
Your quite welcome ;)

I can think of several cases, involving justice and the Macedonian court. But for each, we know sparsely little. The case for the murder of Philip II and the non-case of his electric son, ex-wives, .....on and on. The punishment for Bessus in the Persian tradition...quite another matter.

At least in the case of Philip II, we hear that a 'hearing' of sorts was made on the matter, which had the effect of absolving Alexander (thankfully, or what would we have to talk about 2300 years on?).
Later Nicator

Thus, rain sodden and soaked, under darkness cloaked,
Alexander began, his grand plan, invoked...

The Epic of Alexander
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