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Athenian moicheia was restricted to illicit sex with free women, and so men could legally have extra-marital sex with slaves and prostitutes. Famously, Athenian culture and adultery laws considered seduction of a citizen woman a worse crime than rape.

Moicheia was defined more broadly than the English "adultery", however, referring to any "seduction of a free woman under the protection of a kyrios ". In at least one case, detailed in the speech Against Neaera , we know that an alleged moichos was imprisoned based on a father's right to punish moicheia committed against his daughter. Against this view of moicheia , David Cohen has argued that it was limited to sex with citizens' wives, and that the word moichos was synonymous with the modern English "adulterer", but this view has been largely rejected by other scholars. Married men were not considered to have committed adultery if they were to have sexual relationships with slaves or prostitutes.

An Athenian law on adultery graphe moicheias is known to have existed, though it has not survived. Along with the law on moicheia reconstructed by Carey, three Athenian laws which concerned moicheia have survived, all preserved in the works of fourth-century BC orators. The third surviving law concerning moicheia protected an accused adulterer from illegal imprisonment.

According to the Athenian orator Lysias , moicheia was considered to be a more serious crime than rape or sexual assault, [14] because seduction of a woman implied a long-term relationship, where her legitimate family had their place in her affections supplanted. For instance, Christopher Carey argues that this explanation was merely a post-hoc rationalisation, and that in fact the law was more concerned with the possibility of illegitimate children in cases of adultery.

For example, Eva Cantarella , dismisses Lysias' claim as "ingenious but totally inconsistent", [18] and argues that rape and adultery could both be punished with a range of penalties, of which in both cases the most severe was death. The law which allowed the killing of a moichos caught in the act as a justifiable homicide , seems to have been part of the homicide law set down by Draco , while the laws which set down alternative penalties for adulterers were probably Solonian in origin.

For instance, in Book VIII of the Odyssey , Hephaistos , the husband of Aphrodite , captures Ares and Aphrodite in bed together and displays them in front of the other gods to be ridiculed. There were at least four possible responses to adultery open to the aggrieved party. Firstly, if the adulterer was caught in the act, they could be summarily executed by the kyrios of the woman they were found with.

This was legal both under the Draconian code's provisions for justifiable homicide, and, as Carey believes, under the Solonian law on moicheia. This is what Euphiletos claimed had happened in On the Murder of Eratosthenes. However, this was probably an uncommon response, and modern scholars generally believe that this penalty was only rarely exacted. Andrew Wolpert lists three alternatives to this course of action: to charge the offender in a court of law, to extract a financial penalty, or to subject the offender to physical abuse.

However, in many public actions the jury had the responsibility for selecting the punishment, and Eva Cantarella suggests that this could have been the case for the graphe moicheias. The most common means of punishing adulterers probably involved the last of these options: physical abuse with the aim of humiliating the offender. However, Sara Forsdyke has disagreed, arguing that it was in fact a form of extra-legal collective punishment. Comic sources describe the abuse and humiliation of those guilty of moicheia , including a scene in the Clouds where Aristophanes refers to an adulterer being punished by the insertion of a radish into his anus.

Konstantinos Kapparis has argued that both of these punishments were intended to humiliate the adulterer by feminising them, because depilation was a standard part of a female beauty regimen in Classical Athens, and because being penetrated was associated with femininity. A married woman who was discovered committing adultery would be divorced and prohibited from participating in public religion. If her husband did not wish to divorce her, he might lose his citizen rights. In Hieron , Xenophon claims that the right to kill a moichos was enshrined in law not just in Athens but throughout the cities of Greece.

In ancient Gortyn, the penalty for seduction was a fine of up to staters. In various other Greek cities, we have stories of adulterers being publicly humiliated as a form of punishment. According to Plutarch , the people of Cyme called adulterous women "donkey riders". In some places the punishment for adultery could be more severe, though again stopping short of death.

In Epizephryian Locris in southern Italy, for instance, a moichos could be punished by blinding. Classical Philology. The Classical Quarterly. American Journal of Philology. Past and Present. However, the reference she gives is to Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians The pseudo-Xenophontic Constitution only has three chapters.

London: Pimlico. In Gagarin, Michael; Cohen, David eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The Classical Journal. Hidden : Articles containing Ancient Greek to -language text All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from March Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes file. Download as PDF Printable version. Add links.

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