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date: 01 February 2023

bribery, Greeklocked

bribery, Greeklocked

  • Simon Hornblower


Much Greek vocabulary for bribery is neutral (‘persuade by gifts/money’, ‘receiving gifts’), although pejorative terms like ‘gift-swallowing’ are found as early as Hesiod (Op. 37 ff.). Attic tragedy contains accusations of bribery against e.g. seers like Tiresias (Soph. OT 380 ff.); Thucydides' *Pericles (1) (2. 60. 5, cf. 65. 8) finds it necessary to say that he has not taken bribes; clearly the normal expectation was that politicians did. Accusations of bribery are frequent in 4th cent. orators, partly because you had to prove bribery in order to make a treason accusation (*eisangelia) stick: Hyperides 4. 29 f. Hyperides 5. 24 f. (with D. Whitehead's comm., 2000) implies an Athenian distinction between bribes taken for and against the state's interests; the latter type have been called ‘catapolitical’ (Harvey; but see H. Wankel, ZPE 85 (1991), 34 ff.). See also corruption.


  • Ancient Economy
  • Greek Law

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