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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 6 The word can mean either 'in the marketplace' or 'in the
- 7 I.e. those common to all Greeks as members of the
- 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
- 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)