This ancient Athenian murder trial centralizes around the expectations of marriage, the role of women in ancient Greece, and the dangers a husband faces after failing to properly supervise his wife. Euphiletus stands accused of the murder of Eratosthenes, his wife’s lover. According to Athenian law, if a husband finds his wife in bed with another man, it is the husband’s right to determine what penalty the male adulterer will face. The Husband could demand he pay a fine, or even justifiably kill him. The time period of Euphiletus’ trial had come to acknowledge financial compensation as the common settlement for such offenses. Eratosthenes’ family is having Euphiletus prosecuted for premeditated murder; leaving Euphiletus to convince a jury
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If we have learned one thing about aristocratic Athenians, it would be the monumental importance of proper image and acceptance among other aristocrats. Looking back at the beginning of the semester, ancient greek poets like Archilochus further defend this assumption as shown in his powerful iambic invective ‘birth control’. Families of high rank where so dependent on their reputation in Athenian society that they would have rather chosen suicide than undergo such embarrassment. For an aristocratic male, rumored illegitimacy of his sons or even daughters would ruin future prosperity and inheritance. It was the same as facing death.
Euphiletus then turns away from using emotional pleas to sway the jury to cementing his innocence with concrete evidence-armed with witnesses and the laws of Athens towards adulterers. By gathering up neighbors to intrude on Eratosthenes and catch him in the physical act, he is provided proof by each of their testimonies that Euphiletus killed Eratosthenes in the required situation specified by the law to make the murder legal. Which mandates that in order to carry out a death punishment the man must catch the adulterer in the physical act.
Euphiletus ends with his strongest evidence he has, and that is the law of Athen’s itself. He first has the clerk of court read aloud Solon’s law for adulterer’s :
“an adulterer may be put to death by the man who