Skip to Main Content

Legal history: western Europe & Scandinavia: Ancient Greek Law

Philosophy, democracy and law in ancient Greece

The ancient Greek world had no single system of law; individual states instead formed their own political and legal systems, although these were arguably based largely on the same general principles. 

The most widely-known Greek judicial system is that of 4th century classical Athens, traditionally associated with the birth of democracy.  It was primarily the abstract philosophical ideas surrounding law and justice that had the greatest impact on later societies, rather than the practical aspects of the legal system itself.

Possible starting points are:

Commentary on Bodleian Law Library shelves

The section with shelfmarks Ancient Greek can be found on Level 2. Below are some examples.

NB. If this is your area of research you will undoubtedly need to consult works in the Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library too.See the box in the right hand box for some examples.

Trial of Socrates 399 CBE

Plato's various records of the trial & execution of his teacher (The Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, Crito, part of the Phaedo)

In the Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library