Testamentary Inheritance in Athenian Law

Tucker, Denise Gillian (1988) Testamentary Inheritance in Athenian Law. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

In the introduction, the importance of the subject and the reasons for investigating it further are given. I have also mentioned the various Greek sources which have been used. The first chapter contains evidence from Homer and Hesiod which indicates that will-making in a very-rudimentary oral form was not unknown in seventh-century Greece. In the second chapter, I have looked at Solon's law of testament, introduced in 594/3, which permitted a man to adopt someone by will. The third chapter consists of a discussion of the evidence from Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes concerning testaments, which suggests that in the fifth century, Athenians were often writing their wills as opposed to just making oral dispositions of property, and that these documents had various functions. Chapter 4 looks at the changes made to Solon's law by the Thirty Tyrants in 404/3. In Chapter 5, the legal competence to make a will is considered, particularly with reference to the clauses of exception in Solon's law, although this question is also examined with reference to a person' s citizenship status. The longest chapter is the sixth one, which treatis of the purpose of the testament. The evidence discussed here indicates that the Athenian will had a much wider scope than has often been thought. Chapter 7 concerns the formalities involved in witnessing a will, the means of ensuring that a testament was kept safe and vitiating the document. I have also discussed whether or not a will had to be written. It seems as if there were no strict legal rules about these things, but that they were left to the testator's discretion. The final chapter concerns the arguments of the Attic orators when questioning a will's authenticity, and concludes that in the fourth century, arguments on grounds of forgery were probably used more widely in the courts than those based on capacity. In the conclusion, I have looked at the question of the chronology of the Athenian will, and have defended my results, which suggest that during the period under consideration, even though certain functions of the will were probably more prevalent in some centuries than in others, its fundamental purpose was the care of the oikos. Appendix 1 sets out the evidence concerning the relative positions of Nicanor and Nicomachus in the household of Aristotle, and Appendix 2 discusses the dating of the two fourth-century wills.

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Law, Classical studies
Date of Award: 1988
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1988-77648
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2020 11:53
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2020 11:53
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/77648

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