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Law defence essay

A Husband Speaks in His Own Defense
Euphiletus’s testimony is an insightful document, accounting, first-hand life in Classical Greece. This article opens the door to the inner workings of Greek home life as it pertains to husband and wife, as well as family and servant. Because of the nature of this document, there is also a great deal one can learn about the citizen’s attitude towards the law.

Euphiletus, after killing the man who seduced his wife made the case to the court that he was merely upholding the law. One can naturally assume that Euphiletus was not a man of great material wealth, he even said himself, and “I have a small house, which is divided into two.” It would seem that during 400 B.C. only the wealthy would have exposed access to the laws of the time. Although ordinary citizens would serve on the council of 500 and attend the assemblies, to make decisions regarding alliances etc… In Euphiletus’s plea for justice, he cited several laws in documents that he declared would free him. It becomes evident that the ordinary citizen truly must have been exposed to the law a great deal.

Textbooks on Classical Greece rarely give an accurate depiction of Greek life, especially Greek home life. This document is profound in that it truly expresses the intimacy within the home. Western Civilizations can only give one a clue as to the inner workings of a family living during that time. This textbook is correct as we later see proved by Euphiletus that, “Perhaps Athenian women led less restricted lives than it might seem. Let us distinguish between theory and practice.” After the birth of their child, Euphiletus trusted his wife and “handed all (his) possessions over to her.”

This article uses the servant girl to help expose Euphiletus’ wife and reveal a completely different idea of a maid than what we think of today. Surprisingly, Euphiletus’ wife breast-fed her child herself, instead of having her servant do it. Whenever Euphiletus addresses the maid he seems informal and provides evidence to question his character and his true relationship with the servant. There seems to be a stress on family intimacy in this article. At one point the wife accuses her husband of cavorting with the maid. This was allowed because fidelity was expected of both parties.
The closeness of a Classical Greek family extends beyond the home and into the whole city. Euphiletus illustrates this in his description of the old woman who comes to turn in Eratosthenes, the lover. Word must have spread quickly in those days, especially between women at the market, not much unlike today.

It would seem to some surprising that a husband would notice his wife wearing cosmetics unless he were already suspicious of infidelity. In this plea of Euphiletus, he calls the law to his side, hoping that his fellow men will find righteousness in him for knowing the law.

One of the most interesting aspects of this article is that time and time again Euphiletus accuses Eratosthenes of committing this crime against his house and his wife. It is almost as if the woman is not to blame at all. Initially Euphiletus takes an aggressive, accusatory stance when he talks about his wife locking him out and wearing rouge. Later his tone changes and his wife in no longer mentioned, he instead, focuses on the lover, Eratosthenes.

Euphiletus’ main defense is that he was surprised by this crime and he killed the lover, Euphiletus according to the law. This last part is incredibly insightful, this article would make one believe that human rights were so respected that carrying out a judgment would not extend to seizing someone from the street to taking them from the alter at which they are trying to take refuge.

Finally Euphiletus claimed that he was merely upholding the law, he killed his wife’s lover, Eratosthenes, in the interest of the “whole community.” Perhaps if the jury felt more like he was merely trying to keep to the law and retain peace in the community, they would take pity. Whereas if it had been committed out of rage, which Eratosthenes claims it was not, would the jury take a second look?

It would seem to some that the punishment for adultery was rather harsh during Classical Greece; however, Euphiletus claims to be helping the community. It is important when reading a document of this nature to analyze it as it is, a defense. The women could not be present to contradict his case so he has liberty to tell his own story. Implied within the text is a far more complex story than that which Euphiletus relates.

Euphiletus clearly is committing adultery himself with the servant girl, when his wife accuses him, he merely laughs. Clearly the maid and Euphiletus must have had more interaction than he would let on in court. Their manner when he argues with her is familiar and she has the gall to contradict what her master says. She must have thought his threats were empty at first, this fact hints at a trust between the two.

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