A Commentary on Selected Speeches of Isaios (Mnemosyne, by Brenda Griffith-Williams

By Brenda Griffith-Williams

In A statement on chosen Speeches of Isaios, Brenda Griffith-Williams deals a clean perception, obtainable to non-Greek readers, into 4 disputed inheritance circumstances from the Athenian courts within the 4th century B.C. the one finished English language statement on Isaios (Wyse, 1904) displays a unfavourable view of the Athenian criminal procedure as one within which the judges, who had no felony education, may be simply outwitted by means of an unscrupulous speechwriter with out regard for the reality. via addressing the advanced interaction of genuine, criminal, and rhetorical matters within the chosen speeches, Brenda Griffith-Williams identifies the strengths and weaknesses of every speaker's case and provides a extra balanced evaluation of Isaios's paintings.

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Seymour (1906), 187–190. ” general introduction 29 not to comment further on the legal aspect of the speeches,97 while only a few have directly challenged Wyse’s method and conclusions. The only comprehensive later editions, those of Roussel (1922) and ­Forster (1927) provide, respectively, a French and an English translation, but the commentary in both is limited in scope and largely based on Wyse. The German translator Münscher, whose interest in the speeches is predominantly legal, echoes Wyse in his contemptuous prefatory account of the non-specialist Athenian legal culture in which he sees the law as playing little part and litigants as motivated purely by self-interest and greed.

56 Cf. ” A similar point is made by Tangri (2004), 62. 57 Johnstone (1999), 47. Johnstone’s chapter on ‘Law and narrative’ (46–69) focuses on explicitly adversarial litigation (dikai and graphai), but much of his discussion is relevant also to inheritance claims (diadikasiai). 58 Such evidence has been characterized by some modern commentators as ‘non-legal’, ‘extra-legal’ or ‘irrelevant’. 60 This, as I shall seek to demonstrate, is a simplification, not supported by the sources: lacking an adequate understanding of ‘relevance’, it both underestimates the capacity of the Athenian courts to deal with evidential problems and exaggerates the supposed superiority of modern legal systems, where, in many cases, a judge or jury still has to assess the credibility of witnesses and decide between conflicting versions of fact which are uncorroborated by documentary or scientific evidence.

66 In other speeches Isaios attacks the character of his clients’ opponents or their associates, either with a ‘glancing blow’ or more extended diabolē. 67 It is worth noting that in today’s very different social conditions and legal culture, a claimant’s conduct in financial matters may still sometimes be considered relevant to a claim for maintenance against a deceased person’s estate. In one such case before the English High Court, the judge found that the testatrix had in her lifetime been “exceptionally generous” towards the claimant, who had squandered the money given to her and whose “current financial plight” was “largely of her own making”.

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