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date: 09 February 2023



  • Rosalind Thomas


Zaleucus, lawgiver of Italian *Locri Epizephyrii, and probably the earliest lawgiver in Greece, perhaps c.650 bce. The traditions about him are poor, later accounts (e.g. Diod. Sic. 12. 19–21) largely legendary and influenced by Pythagoreanism (see pythagoras (1); cf. FGrH566, F 130 with Jacoby's comments), and he is best seen in conjunction with other early lawgivers. He prescribed exact penalties for crimes (in the earlier, more reliable tradition), and is attributed with the use of the lex talionis (‘eye for eye’: Dem. 24. 139). His legislation was notorious for its severity, and was intended to remain unchanged (Dem. 24. 140, Polyb. 12. 16). Like other lawgivers, he was probably a conciliator of social unrest, though a conservative one (Locri remained aristocratic). There are signs of at least later (5th cent.) influence of his laws in Italian and Sicilian cities.


  • Greek Law

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