Regulating free speech in a democracy: Lysias 10 against Theomnestos and the law on slander in Athens

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@article{c2ec6b787dd949879eceb4b797d6315e,
title = "Regulating free speech in a democracy: Lysias 10 against Theomnestos and the law on slander in Athens",
abstract = "Lysias 10 Against Theomnestos is the only surviving example of a classical Greek speech on a charge of slander (dik{\^e} kak{\^e}gorias). The case turns on establishing communal consensus in evaluation of meta-discursive claims: assertions as to what the law says about what citizens say about their fellow-citizens. I adapt Marmor{\textquoteright}s account of the pragmatics of legal discourse to illuminate the litigants{\textquoteright} strategies as they seek to control interpretation of the legal question in this much-discussed case from 380s BC Athens. We see how each party used different assumptions about the law{\textquoteright}s implicatures as well as its declarative meaning and presented these assumptions as grounded in common sense. The persuasive methods used by Lysias{\textquoteright}s client are illuminated by means of cognitive narratology{\textquoteright}s application of Lewisian possible-world logic to the creation of storyworlds and the relationships they generate between narrator and reader/ audience. So understood, Lysias{\textquoteright} speech helps answer questions about the role and limits of free/ frank speech (parrh{\^e}sia) in democratic Athens and about the relationship between individual agency and the collective agency of the d{\^e}mos, questions crucial to an understanding of the place of legal discourse and legal conflict in the ideology and day-to-day praxis of the democratic city. ",
keywords = "Athens, slander , democracy, rhetoric, law",
author = "Niall Livingstone",
note = "Not yet published as of 08/06/2021.",
year = "2017",
month = jan,
day = "31",
language = "English",
journal = "The Journal of Hellenic Studies",
issn = "0075-4269",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Regulating free speech in a democracy

T2 - Lysias 10 against Theomnestos and the law on slander in Athens

AU - Livingstone, Niall

N1 - Not yet published as of 08/06/2021.

PY - 2017/1/31

Y1 - 2017/1/31

N2 - Lysias 10 Against Theomnestos is the only surviving example of a classical Greek speech on a charge of slander (dikê kakêgorias). The case turns on establishing communal consensus in evaluation of meta-discursive claims: assertions as to what the law says about what citizens say about their fellow-citizens. I adapt Marmor’s account of the pragmatics of legal discourse to illuminate the litigants’ strategies as they seek to control interpretation of the legal question in this much-discussed case from 380s BC Athens. We see how each party used different assumptions about the law’s implicatures as well as its declarative meaning and presented these assumptions as grounded in common sense. The persuasive methods used by Lysias’s client are illuminated by means of cognitive narratology’s application of Lewisian possible-world logic to the creation of storyworlds and the relationships they generate between narrator and reader/ audience. So understood, Lysias’ speech helps answer questions about the role and limits of free/ frank speech (parrhêsia) in democratic Athens and about the relationship between individual agency and the collective agency of the dêmos, questions crucial to an understanding of the place of legal discourse and legal conflict in the ideology and day-to-day praxis of the democratic city.

AB - Lysias 10 Against Theomnestos is the only surviving example of a classical Greek speech on a charge of slander (dikê kakêgorias). The case turns on establishing communal consensus in evaluation of meta-discursive claims: assertions as to what the law says about what citizens say about their fellow-citizens. I adapt Marmor’s account of the pragmatics of legal discourse to illuminate the litigants’ strategies as they seek to control interpretation of the legal question in this much-discussed case from 380s BC Athens. We see how each party used different assumptions about the law’s implicatures as well as its declarative meaning and presented these assumptions as grounded in common sense. The persuasive methods used by Lysias’s client are illuminated by means of cognitive narratology’s application of Lewisian possible-world logic to the creation of storyworlds and the relationships they generate between narrator and reader/ audience. So understood, Lysias’ speech helps answer questions about the role and limits of free/ frank speech (parrhêsia) in democratic Athens and about the relationship between individual agency and the collective agency of the dêmos, questions crucial to an understanding of the place of legal discourse and legal conflict in the ideology and day-to-day praxis of the democratic city.

KW - Athens

KW - slander

KW - democracy

KW - rhetoric

KW - law

UR - https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-hellenic-studies

M3 - Article

JO - The Journal of Hellenic Studies

JF - The Journal of Hellenic Studies

SN - 0075-4269

ER -