Was Murder Allowed in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, murder was a serious crime and was generally not allowed. However, there were some circumstances in which killing another person was considered justified.


One of the most common justifications for killing another person in ancient Greece was self-defense. If someone felt that their life was in immediate danger, they were permitted to defend themselves with lethal force if necessary.

Punishment for crimes

Another circumstance in which killing was allowed involved punishment for certain crimes. For example, the death penalty was often used for serious offenses such as murder or treason.


Killing during times of war was also generally accepted in ancient Greece. Soldiers were expected to fight and kill their enemies on the battlefield, and those who did so successfully were often rewarded for their bravery.

Honor killings

Perhaps one of the most controversial justifications for murder in ancient Greece was honor killings. In some cases, if a family member felt that their honor had been insulted or compromised, they might take it upon themselves to kill the offending party to restore their family’s reputation.

It should be noted that while these justifications existed, they were still subject to scrutiny and debate within Greek society. Killing someone without proper justification could still result in severe punishment, including exile or even death.


In conclusion, while murder was generally not allowed in ancient Greece, there were some circumstances where it was considered justified. Self-defense, punishment for crimes, warfare, and honor killings were all situations where taking another’s life may have been deemed acceptable. However, it is important to recognize that these justifications were not without controversy and debate within Greek society.