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by Archaeology Newsroom

Moral crimes in Classical Athens

Modern penal law considers acts that contravene the principles ruling sexual relations as moral crimes. According to the Attic law of the classical period the rape of a woman, man, child or slave, the sexual intercourse between a man and a child, prostitution of men, the pandering of boys by their relatives and incest were considered moral crimes. The provision of the Athenian legislation regarding these crimes served to protect freedom of will in sexual life, the purity of certain relations that ought to remain beyond sexual activity and the very nature of the sexual act that in certain cases should be expressed within the frame of genuine and natural attraction and far from economic motives. This legislation did not only defend moral values but it also protected the city and its institutions. The ancient legislator by approving or disapproving certain acts aimed, above all, to endow the citizens with such virtues as to become able to defend the existence and the smooth function of the social and political principles of their city.