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Oracles, Curses, and Risk Among the Ancient Greeks$
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Esther Eidinow

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199277780

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199277780.001.0001

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The Best Defence

The Best Defence

(p.165) 9 The Best Defence
Oracles, Curses, and Risk Among the Ancient Greeks

Esther Eidinow (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on judicial curse tablets, which offer a unique viewpoint on Ancient Greek litigation, revealing the fears of those going to court. At the same time, they add to the understanding of the legal process, the different roles played by its personnel, and the actual and symbolic significance of litigation within the city. The curse texts indicate that litigation was likely to have been fought in teams, suggesting that current versions of Athenian litigation as consisting simply of one-on-one power struggles between elite politicians are too limited. The range of personnel bound on the curse tablets suggests that not only more people, but more kinds of people (including women) were involved. But this study also questions how we categorize curses as judicial, and argues that for a number of curses usually placed in this category, the context of their creation is far from certain; it suggests other possible explanations for their creation.

Keywords:   judicial curse tablets, Ancient Greek litigation, court

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