Athenian power and prosperity in the fourth century B.C. was based largely on commerce. The complex litigation arising from commercial activities was heard in special maritime courts,dikai emporikai, the subject of this monograph. Using both ancient and secondary sources, Edward E. Cohen has pieced together the evolution of these courts and has explored their procedure and jurisdiction. He successfully treats the much-discussed problem of why they were termed "monthly," and makes it clear that "supranationality" was a feature of all Hellenic maritime law. He shows conclusively that their jurisdiction was limitedratione rerum, notratione personarum, because a legally defined "commercial class" did not exist in Athens at this time.
Classicists and lawyers alike will find this a fascinating study. It not only contributes to our understanding of the Athens of Plato, Aristotle, and Demosthenes, but also points out that certain principles of Athenian maritime law are still imbedded in the modern international law of maritime commerce.
Originally published in 1973.
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