The Ancient Library

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On this page: Ephegesis – Ephetae – Ephialtes – Ephors



For the two following years they served as guards on the frontier. After the comple­tion of their twentieth year they were ad­mitted to the meetings of the assembly and employed in foreign service. Their dress was the chl&mys and the pgtdsus.

Ephegesls. See apagoge.

Ephetse. A judicial court of high anti­quity at Athens, consisting of fifty-one judges elected from the noblest Athenian families. It gave decisions in cases of murder at five different places, differing according to the character of the case. If the crime had a religious character, the Archon Baslleus presided. (See abchons.) Solon did not abolish this court, but handed over to the newly organized Areopagus its most important functions,—the power of deciding cases of intentional murder, poison­ing, malicious wounding, arson, and the like. The nearest relations of the murdered person were bound by religious sanction to avenge his blood. At the funeral, and after that in the market place, they uttered a solemn denunciation, which bade the murderer keep away from all public places, assemblies, and sanctuaries, and to appear before the court. The Archon Basileus, after the charge had been announced and received, repeated this denunciation. The preliminary investigation, and determination of the place where the court was to be held, followed at three appointed times in three succes­sive months. The case was not finally dealt with till the fourth month. On the first two days of the final trial the two parties, after solemnly taking an oath, con­ducted their case in person. On the third day judgment was given, in case the accused had not gone into voluntary exile. If he had, his property was confiscated, but he was pursued no further. Intentional mur­der was punished with death, malicious wounding with exile; the man's property was confiscated in both cases. In the court of Areopagus, if the votes of the judges were equal, the accused was acquit­ted. If the homicide were legally allowed (as, for instance, that of an adulterer) or legally innocent (as in self-defence), the case was investigated in the Delphinlo'n, a sanctuary of the Delphic Apollo ; and only a religious purification was exacted. Cases of unintentional homicide, murder of an alien, and instigation to murder, were taken at the Palladion, a sanctuary of Pallas. Instigation to murder was punished with banishment and confiscation of property, the murder of an alien with banishment,

unintentional murder with banishment, until the kinsmen of the murdered person gave permission to the slayer to return. In the time of Demosthenes it would seem that the cases which used to be heard at the Delphinion and Palladion were handed over to the Heliastce. Thus the Ephetse had only two courts left them, that in Phreatto, a place in the Piraeus, near the sea, and the Prytaneum. The former had only to judge in the rare event of a person banished for unintentional homicide being charged with intentional murder. As he might not set foot on land, he was heard standing in a ship, and if found guilty was punished with banishment for life. At the Prytaneum a regular court was held on inani­mate objects and animals which had been the cause of death to a human being. The presi­dent of the four old Ionic tribes removed the object or the animal over the border. Again, if a murder had been committed and the of­fender was undiscovered, this court had to pronounce lawful sentence against him [Dem. 23 §§ 64-79; Aristotle, Const. Athens, 57].

Ephlaltes. See aload^e.

Ephors (EphOroi = overseers.) A board of five members at Sparta, elected annually from all the citizens. It is said to have been established by Lycurgus or king Theo-pompus (770 b.c.). The original intention was that it should give decisions in private matters, and represent the absent kings in certain of their duties, especially the super­intendence of the officials and of public discipline. But their circle of authority gradually widened, till it came to mean a superintendence over the whole common­wealth, including the kings. The ephors had the right of raising objections against their actions, calling them, like other officials, to account for their conduct, pun­ishing them with fines and reprimands, and even prosecuting them before the senate, and threatening them with deposition and death. They were the only citizens who were not obliged to rise in the kings' presence, a fact which gives a good idea of the relative position of the two parties. Besides the duty of opposing everything which they thought adverse to the laws and interests of Sparta, they had from early times the right of summoning the delibera­tive and legislative assemblies, the GZrusia and Ecclesia, to make proposals to them, and take the lead in proceedings left to their management. Two of them regularly accompanied the kings on their campaigns. It is probable also that they had the super-

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