Asebeia (Ancient Greek: ἀσέβεια) was a criminal charge in ancient Greece for the "desecration and mockery of divine objects", for "irreverence towards the state gods" and disrespect towards parents and dead ancestors.[1] It translates into English as impiety or godlessness. Most evidence for it comes from Athens.

The antonym of asebeia is eusebeia (εὐσέβεια), which can be translated as "piety". As piety was the generally desired and expected form of behaviour and mindset, being called and regarded impious (ἀσεβής) was already a form of punishment.[2][3]

Trials in AthensEdit

Every single citizen, including a third party, could bring this charge (graphē asebeias) to the Archon basileus. Instead of a single law or text defining the charge and proceedings to take place in case of asebeia, there is an array of texts in which it appears. Plutarch, Polybios, Demosthenes and Aristotle refer to it in their texts.

The trials were publicly held at the Heliaia and were split into two steps: first it was established by the audience (heliasts or dikastes) through voting, whether the accused was found guilty; if the majority found them guilty, because the laws didn't prescribe a fixed punishment, the audience at the Heliaia would then, in the second step, decide on the punishment. Known punishments were fines, exile, death, property confiscation and atimia (disfranchisement), whilst death was the most common sentence.[4] There was no right to appeal the sentence made. Sentences were carried out or supervised by the magistrates from the eleven tribes: The Eleven (οἱ ἕνδεκα). The following ancient Greeks were accused or allegedly accused (as the sources are ambiguous) of asebeia:

HistoricityEdit

Even though the above individuals were alleged to have been accused of asebeia in different later sources, there is a lack of historical evidence and it was suggested that some of the accusations might have been fabricated by historians and other writers in later periods.[17]

Outside AthensEdit

Outside Athens asebeia was possibly seen as a wrong state of mind rather than a crime.[18]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Thür, Gerhard (Graz), “Asebeia”, in: Brill's New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 10 July 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e203010> First published online: 2006
  2. ^ Aurian Delli Pizzi, « Impiety in Epigraphic Evidence », Kernos [Online, 24 | 2011, Online since 01 February 2014, connection on 11 July 2020.]
  3. ^ Delli Pizzi, Aurian (2011). "Impiety in Epigraphic Evidence". Kernos (24): 59–76. doi:10.4000/kernos.1934.
  4. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, page 18.
  5. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, pages 23–25.
  6. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, pages 26–27, 30.
  7. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, pages 42–43.
  8. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, pages 72–73.
  9. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, page 28.
  10. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, pages 40; 42.
  11. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, page 71.
  12. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, page 46ff.
  13. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, page 51.
  14. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, page 36.
  15. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, pages 52–57.
  16. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, pages 75–76.
  17. ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, page 59.
  18. ^ Impiety

BibliographyEdit

  • Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal. Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, 11-96.
  • Leão, Delfim. (2012). “Asebeia”, in Roger S. Bagnall, Kai Brodersen, Craige B. Champion, Andrew Erskine, and Sabine R. Huebner (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Ancient History (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 815-816. 10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah17057.