Law, Politics, and the Question of Relevance in the Case on the Crown
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This paper seeks to give a more precise grounding to the question of relevance in Athenian forensic argument with a specific focus on the speeches delivered by Aeschines and Demosthenes in the case On the Crown. I argue that in Athenian litigation relevance can be determined quite precisely by the specific terms of the accusation, and that the litigants are well aware of this standard and take care to make their arguments relevant or to justify them if they may appear to be "outside the issue." Because all the issues specified in the accusation are legally relevant, the distinction commonly drawn between legal and political arguments has no place in a discussion of relevance. The effect of this rule of relevance, I argue, is not to promote fairness but to increase the advantage enjoyed by the plaintiff. I conclude with a few observations on the Athenian view of law which, I suggest, was considerably broader than ours.