Parallels Between Drama and the Judicial Process.
”The laws because of their brevity do not teach but merely order what one should do; the poets on the other hand by representing human life and selecting the noblest deeds persuade men by using both reason and clear examples.”
Greece, and more specifically Athens, has always been regarded as the birthplace of democracy, and within this democratic structure, the most important political institutions in Athens was the courts.
Athenian democracy was not only direct in the sense that decisions were made by the assembled people, but also directest in the sense that the people through the Assembly, Boule and Courts of law controlled the entire political process and a large proportion of citizens were involved constantly in the public business.
The birth of democracy in Athens began between the late 6th century BC and the early 5th century BC. This impacted, not only on the political landscape, but also on the administration of justice. By the middle of the 5th century judicial decisions were made not by trained professionals but by lay citizens.
Each year 6,000 Athenian citizens were selected to sit as judges (dikastai) in the courts. Although historians have described the role of the dikastai as judges, it was more akin to the role of a modern juror.
By the 5th century the Athenian population had grown considerably and it was estimated that there were 40,000 citizens living in the city who met the criteria for membership of the Assembly. The Assembly itself was made up of 6,000 eligible citizens, and from this pool 1,500 to 2,000 dikastai were selected to hear cases each day the courts sat. Membership was granted to those citizens who had reached the age of thirty years, and had taken the Dikastic oath at the start of the year.
The Dikastic oath was taken by all dikastai before taking their seats in the Assembly. The Dikastai swore to Apollo Patrius, Ceres and Jupiter, the King that they would decide all things...