Drakon's Law on Homicide. 621/0 B.C.


[ ] text between square brackets is restored or missing; vv = vacant letterspaces; | = line end


Diognetos of Phrearrhos1 was Secretary, | Diokles was Archon.2 | Resolved by the Boule and the People, Akamantis held the prytany, [D] io[g] |netos was Secretary, Euthydikos presided, [. .]e[. . .] anes

5 made the motion. The || law of Drakon about homicide shall be inscribed by the Recorder|s of the laws (Anagrapheis), after they have received it from the King Archon, jointly with the Secretar|y of the Boule, on a marble stele, and they shall set it up in front of the Sto|a Basileia. The Poletai shall let the contract according to the la|w. The Hellenotamiai

10 shall supply the money. || First Axon.3 vv | Even if without premeditation [someone kills someone, he shall be exiled.] Ju|dgment shall be passed (on him) by the Kings4 as guilty of homicide 5 either (?) [-17-] or (?) the man who plo |tted (the death). The Ephetai shall give the verdict. [Pardon may be granted, if the father] is aliv|e, or brothers, or sons, by all of them (in agreement), or the one [opposing it shall pre-

15 vail: if none] of th||ese men exists, (then by the male relatives) as far as the degree of cousin's son and [cousin, if all] | are willing [to pardon]. The opposer shall prevail. [If none of these exists, and the] kil|ling was involuntary, and judgment is passed by the [Fifty-One, the Ephetai, that it was involuntary] | homicide, he may be admitted (into the country) by [members of his phratry, ten in number, if they wish. These] th | e Fifty-One [shall elect] according to their rank. [And those

20 also who] prio||r (to this time) committed homicide [shall be bound by this ordinance. Proclamation shall be made] against the homicide [in the] agora6 [(by relatives) as far as the degree of cousin's son and cousin. Prosecution shall be made jointly] | by cousins, [sons of cousins, sons-in-law, fathers-in-law] a|nd members of the phratry [-36-]

25 respons| |ible for homicide [ 26- The Fifty-]|| One [-42 -] of homicide | are convicted 1-35-If] anyone | [kills the homicide or is responsible for his murder when he has kept away from the market] on the fro|ntier and [from the games and from the Amphictyonic rites,7 (then) just as one by whom an] Athenian is k|illed:, [just so shall he be treated.

30 The verdict shall be brought in by the] Ephetai || [---] | [---] | [---]

35 [- initiating] ac|ts [of injustice --] acts of injustice, should k||ill [- - Verdict shall be brought in] by the E|phetai [--] he is a fre|e man. And [if a man unjustly carrying away one's property by force is immediately] repelle|d and killed, [ there shall be no recompense for his death--] [ ]8


1 From the time of Kleisthenes, citizens of Athens were officially identified by the name of the deme in which they were registered.
2 I.e. of 409/8 B.C., when this law was published on stone. The first two lines are set out as a heading.
3 This heading is written in slightly larger letters, more widely spaced.
4 This is either a reference (in the plural) to the king archon of different years or to the phylobasileis.
5 Stroud; 'decide on the cases of the homicide' and 'hold trials for accusations of homicide' are alternative explanations.
6 The word can mean either 'in the marketplace' or 'in the Assembly.'
7 I.e. those common to all Greeks as members of the League.
The inscription continues for more than twenty lines, with only a few letters
preserved on the right-hand edge. But 'Second Axon' can be restored on line 56
from traces of letters set out as in the heading in line 10.
8 The inscription continues for more than twenty lines, with only a few letters preserved on the right-hand edge.
 
Archon: "Leader" of the state; each year is named after the official elected to maintain family lines, conduct religious festivals, regulate calendar; one of Nine Archons elected to administer laws and conduct wars
Axon: wooden tablet inscribed with laws
Boule: 500 citizen males selected by lot, 50 from each of the 10 demes, to preside over Assembly ("the People"), supervise magistrates, administer finances
Ephetai: the "Fifty-One" jurors who try homicide cases under the archon basileus
Hellenotamiai: treasurers who receive tribute payments and pay for state expenses
Poletai: elected officials who apportion state contracts
Prytany: rotating presidency of the Boule


Fornara, A: Eusebius, Chronica, in Hieronymus (Jerome) 97b6 Helm (at the year 624/3); B: IG I2 115+ (I3 104); GHI, no. 86, pp. 264-7; *R. S. Stroud, Drakon's law on homicide (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1968) 1-18, with photo in back insert. Marble stole, stoichedon, Athens. Cf. Andocides 1.83; Aristotle, Athenaion Politeia 4.1, 7.1; Plutarch, Solon 17.1. The authenticity of the law has been disputed. As the heading indicates, this stele was inscribed in 409/8 B.C.

D.M. MacDowell, Athenian homicide law in the age of the orators (Manchester 1963) 117-25; Stroud, passim; W. T. Loomis JHS 92 (1972) 86-95; Bury-Meiggs 121; Sealey, History 99-105.

A. Eusebius, Chronica 97b6 Helm See no. 1B at the year 624/3.
B.IG I2 115+ (I3 104)