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On this page: Asebeias Graphe – Asiarchae – Asilla



ji he-goat to the god, made a bag out of the skin, smeared it with oil, and then tried to dance upon it. The various accidents accompanying this at­tempt afforded great amusement to the spectators. He who succeeded was victor, and received the skin as a reward. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Plut. 1130 ; Plat. Synip. p. 190 ; Virg. Georg. ii. 384 ; Pollux, ix. 121 ; Hesych. s. s. 'Ao-KcoAia^oj/res ; Krause, Gymnastik und Agonistik d. Hellenen^ p. 399, who gives a representation of it from an ancient gem, which is copied in the above cut.)

ASEBEIAS GRAPHE (aa&ias ypapfi\ was one of the many forms prescribed by the Attic laws for the impeachment of impiety. From the various tenor of the accusations still extant, it may be gathered that this crime was as ill-defined at Athens, and therefore as liable to be made the pretext for persecution, as it has been in all other countries in which the civil power has attempted to reach offences so much beyond the natural limits of its jurisdiction. The occasions, however, upon which the Athenian accuser professed to come for­ward may be classed as, first, breaches of the cere­monial law of public worship; and, secondly, indications of that, which in analogous cases of modern times would be called heterodoxy, or heresy. The former comprehended encroachment upon consecrated grounds, the plunder, or other injury of temples, the violation of asylums, the in,' terruption of sacrifices and festivals, the mutilation of statues of the gods, the introduction of deities not acknowledged by the state, and various other transgressions peculiarly defined by the laws of the Attic sacra, such as a private celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries and their divulgation to the uninitiated, injury to the sacred olive trees, or placing a suppliant bough (i/cer^jpia) on a particular altar at an improper time. (Andoc. DeMyst. p. 110.) The heretical delinquencies may be exemplified by the expulsion of Protagoras (Diog. Lae'rt. ix. 51, 52) for writing " that he could not learn whether the gods existed or not,1' in the persecu­tion of Anaxagoras (Diog. Lae'rt ii. 12), like that of Galileo in after times, for impugning the received opinions about the sun, and the condemnation of Socrates for not holding the objects of the public worship to be gods. (Xen. Apol. Soc.) The va­riety of these examples will have shown that it is impossible to enumerate all the cases to which this sweeping accusation might be extended; and, as it is not upon record that religious Athens (Xen. Rep. Ath. iii. 8) was scandalised at the pro­fane jests of Aristophanes, or that it forced Epicu­rus to deny that the gods were indifferent to hu­man actions, it is difficult to ascertain the limit at which jests and scepticism ended, and penal im­piety began.

With respect to the trial, any citizen that pleased 6 Pov\6/jt,€vos — which, however, in this as in all other public actions, must be understood of those only who did not labour under an incapacitating disfranchisement (dr^t'a) — seems to have been a competent accuser ; but as the nine archons, and the areiopagites, were the proper guardians of the sacred olives (juopiai, ffrjKol, Lysias, Uepl rov 277/coD, p. 282), it is not impossible that they had also a power of official prosecution upon casually discovering any injury done to their charge.

The cases of Socrates, Aspasia, and Protagoras, may be adduced to show that citizens, resident aliens, and strangers, were equally liable to this


accusation. And if a minor, as represented in the declamation of Antiphon, could be prosecuted for murder (<$>6vov)^ a crime considered by the early Greeks more in reference to its ceremonial pol­lution than in respect of the injury inflicted upon society, it can hardly be concluded that per­sons under age were incapable of committing, or suffering, for this offence. (Antiph. Tetral. ii, p. 674.)

The magistrate, who conducted the previous ex­amination (avaKpurts) was, according to Meier (Att. Proc. pp. 300, 304, n. 34) invariably the king archon, but whether the court into which he brought the causes were the areiopagus, or the common heliastic court, of both of which there are several instances, is supposed (Meier, Att. Proc. p. 305) to have been determined by the form of action adopted by the prosecutor, or the degree of com­petency to which the areiopagus rose or fell at the different periods of Athenian history. From the Apology of Socrates we learn that the forms of the trial upon this occasion were those usual in all public actions, and that, generally, the amount of the penalty formed a separate question for the di-casts after the conviction of the defendant. For some kinds of impiety, however, the punishment was fixed by special laws, as in the case of persons iniuring the sacred olive trees, and in that men-

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tioned by Andocides (De Myst. p. 110).

If the accuser failed to obtain a fifth of the votes of the dicasts, he forfeited a thousand drachmae, and incurred a modified arista. The other forms ol prosecution for this offence were the airaywyf) (Dern. c. Androt. p. 601. 26), e^ynffis (Meier, Att. Proc. p. 246), ev$ei£is (Andoc. De Myst. p. 8), •jrpogoXfy (Libanius, Argum. ad Dem. in Mid. 509, 10), and in extraordinary cases eicrayyeAia (Andoc. De Myst. p. 43) ; besides these, Demosthenes men­tions (c. Androt. p. 601) two other courses that an accuser might adopt, SiicdfecrOai irpbs EujuoA-n-tSas, and (ppd^eiv irpbs rbv jScurtAe'a, of which it is diffi­cult to give a satisfactory explanation. [J. S. M.]

ASIARCHAE (amctpxcu), were, in the Roman province of Asia, the chief presidents of the re­ligious rites, whose office it was to exhibit games and theatrical amusements every year, in honour of the gods and the Roman emperor, at their own expense, like the Roman aediles. As the exhi­bition of these games were attended with great expense, wealthy persons were always chosen to fill this office ; for which reason, Strabo says, some of the inhabitants of Tralles, which was one of the most wealthy cities in Asia, were always chosen asiarchs. They were ten in number, se­lected annually by the different towns of Asia, and approved of by the Roman proconsul ; of these, one was the chief asiarch, and frequently but not always, resided at Ephesus. Their office lasted only for a year ; but they appear to have enjoyed the title as a mark of courtesy for the rest of their lives. In the other Roman provinces in Asia, we find similar magistrates corresponding to the Asiarchae in proconsular Asia, as for instance the Bithyniarchae, Galatarchae, Lyciarchae, &c. (Strab. xiv. p. 649 ; Acts, xix. 31., with the notes of Wetstein and Kuinoel ; Euseb. H. E. iv. 15 ; Winer, Biblisches Realworterbuch, art. Asiar-chen.)

ASILLA (&<nAAa), a wooden pole, or yoke, held by a man either on his two shoulders, or more commonly on one shoulder only, and used for

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