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graphē paranomōn

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In Athens was a prosecution for the offence of proposing a decree or law which was contrary to an existing law in form or content. As soon as the accuser made a sworn statement that he intended to bring a graphe paranomon against the proposer, the proposal, whether already voted on or not, was suspended until the trial had been held. If the jury convicted the proposer, his proposal was annulled and he was punished, usually by a fine; if a man was convicted three times of this type of offence, he suffered disfranchisement.

The two earliest known cases were brought in 415 bc and thereabouts. Ostracism was by then obsolescent, and in its place a graphe paranomon became a popular method of attacking prominent politicians. The most famous example is the prosecution of Ctesiphon by Aeschines (1) for his proposal to confer a crown on Demosthenēs (2), the orator; the surviving speeches of Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon, and Demosthenes, On the Crown, were written for this trial.

Subjects: LawHistory of Law

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