By Zinon Papakonstantinou
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Additional info for Lawmaking and Adjudication in Archaic Greece
53 In a perfect world, true justice is realized through the intervention of benevolent rulers (basile√j) who are responsible for adjudication in a manner similar to the trial on the shield of Achilles. Evenhandedness and the ability to mete out justice effectively and communicate verdicts that are fair and acceptable to the litigants are also presented as divine gifts (Th. y£ ke ka< m2ga ne√koj 1pistam2nwj kat2pausen: toÜneka g>r basilÁej 1c2fronej, oÛneka lao√j blaptom2noij ¢gorÁfi met£tropa 4rga teleàsi "hid8wj, malako√si paraif£menoi 1p2esin.
24 II. g. g. the position and role of the oikos and of the various members therein), including perceptions of law and justice, are presented in the epics as almost universally espoused. 17 Moreover, as we have already pointed out, the epics also contain a strong elitist ideological subtext which suggests that perceptions of justice, at least in the manner expressed by Homer, largely reflect an upper-class perspective. g. dispute resolution procedures, see above) are fairly realistic, albeit stylised, representations of social realities, the moral and legal ideals that the epics endorse were to a large extent the ideals that the elites of the communities across the Homeric world (irrespective of the date one attaches to it) were particularly keen on promoting, with dissonant voices only marginally depicted.
It suggests that, in addition to the input of the litigants and common spectators in the courts, law was contestable, contrary to the Homeric aristocratic ideal, on the perceptual level as well. Archaic Greeks could not merely attempt to influence the interpretation of the law by shouting in the courts, but occasionally they explicitly stood up against it. In a sense, the history of law in archaic Greece is the history of its separation from the firm grip of the aristocracy and its perceptual transformation from absolute truth to social convention.