HELGA. Courtroom Drama: The Social History of Classical Athens through Forensic Speeches

Course content

HELGA. Courtroom Drama: The Social History of Classical Athens through Forensic Speeches
The aim of this course is that of providing an overview of the social landscape of classical Athens (ca.478–323 BCE) through the forensic speeches of the Attic Orators. Litigation was an integral part of the everyday life of Athenian society: Athens had a number of different courts – from special homicide courts to popular courts, manned by panels of judges chosen by lot from a pool of male citizen volunteers – that heard all sorts of cases, public and private, in which litigants were required to represent themselves and plead their own case. The preserved forensic speeches offer insights on virtually all aspects of the socio-political life of fifth- and fourth-century Athens, and largely reflect widespread Athenian attitudes towards those aspects; therefore, understanding the Athenian legal system is fundamental to understanding Athenian culture and society. Throughout the course, by reading a selection of speeches of the orators (in translation), students will learn about topics such as marriage, same-sex relationships, divorce, sexual assault, contraception, abortion, adoption, guardianship, inheritance, prostitution, citizenship, disability, agrarian and commercial economy, foreigner integration, slavery, slander, military service, violence, treason, religion, pollution, and murder in ancient Athens, and will acquire the basic knowledge and skills effectively to engage with, analyse, and exploit such diverse and complex source material.

Forskningsområde indgår som en integreret del på 2. og 4. semester af:
- Metode 2: dokumentation og analyse (Arkæologistuderende, 2. semester)
- Forhistorisk Arkæologisk metode 3: kritik og formidling  (Forhistorisk arkæologistuderende, 4.semester)
- Klassisk arkæologi: kulturmøde (Klassisk arkæologistuderende, 4. semester)
- Hverdagslivets kulturhistorie (Etnologistuderende, 2. semester)
- Kulturelle processer i Europa (Etnologistuderende, 4. semester)
- Græsk-romersk arkæologi og kunsthistorie (Græsk- og latinstuderende, 2. semester)
- Sprogkundskab (Græsk- og Latinstuderende, 6. semester)
- Område 2 (Historiestuderende, 2. semester)
- Globalhistorie (Historiestuderende, 4. semester)
Se Historie, BA, lektionskatalog forår 2024.


Forskningsområde knyttet til 2. og 4. semesterkurser på Saxo-Instituttet.

Holdundervisning / øvelser

- C: Carey: Trials from Classical Athens. London & New York, 1997 [selected speeches].
- K. A. Kapparis: Athenian Law and Society. London & New York, 2019 [selected chapters].
- D. M. MacDowell: The Law in Classical Athens. London, 1978 [selected chapters].

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Type of assessment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 88
  • Exam Preparation
  • 62
  • English
  • 192


Course number
Programme level

1 semester

Se skemalink
Study Board of Archaeology, Ethnology, Greek & Latin, History
Contracting department
  • SAXO-Institute - Archaeology, Ethnology, Greek & Latin, History
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinators
  • Christian Ammitzbøll Thomsen   (5-6765717178446c7971326f7932686f)
  • Linda Rocchi   (6-716e73696677456d7a7233707a336970)
Saved on the 10-11-2023

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students