Date of Degree
Edward M. Harris
Dee L. Clayman
Jennifer Tolbert Roberts
This dissertation investigates contracts and the contractual language of 4th century B. C. Athens. Its main source is Attic oratory although there is some discussion of inscriptions. Since no ancient Greek word has the same range of meanings as the English word 'contract', the first task is to consider the characteristics of transactions that will count as contracts in the study and to define the term. After giving criteria for identifying contracts, the study examines Greek words whose dictionary definitions include the word 'contract'. Part I surveys the terms, όμολογία, συγγραϕή, συμβόλαιον and συνθήκη, discussing their senses in oratory and their legal significance in Athenian law. When a word can denote a written document, the study distinguishes between this concrete sense and the abstract reference to the idea of contract without the writing.
Part II of the dissertation examines the features of particular Athenian contracts and compares them to Roman counterparts. Avoiding a modern categorization of the transactions, I group them instead in Greek word groups or by Roman contract for the sake of comparison. I discuss loan transactions, security arrangements associated with other contracts, partnership, the complex of arrangements associated with the words μίσθωσις and μισθόω, deposit and sale. All of the contracts studied involve economic relationships. I find that the Athenians had many of the same categories of contracts that the Romans did, but the Romans distinguished more types within some of the categories.
Knopf, Ellen, "Contracts in Athenian Law" (2005). CUNY Academic Works.