What Punishments Were Used in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, a variety of punishments were used to maintain law and order in society. These punishments were designed to deter individuals from committing crimes and to serve as retribution for their actions. Let’s explore some of the most common forms of punishment in ancient Greece.

1. Fines

Fines were a common form of punishment in ancient Greece. Offenders would be required to pay a sum of money as compensation for their actions. The amount of the fine would depend on the severity of the crime committed and the individual’s social status.

2. Whipping

In cases where fines were not deemed sufficient, whipping was often used as a physical form of punishment. The offender would be publicly whipped with a whip or rod, causing pain and humiliation.

3. Exile

Exile was another commonly used punishment in ancient Greece. Offenders found guilty of serious crimes, such as murder or treason, would be banished from their city-state and forced to live elsewhere. This served as both a punishment and a means of protecting society from potential harm.

4. Death Penalty

The death penalty was reserved for the most severe crimes in ancient Greece. Different city-states had different methods of execution, including methods such as drowning, stoning, hanging, or drinking poison hemlock.

4.1 Drowning

In Athens, drowning was a common method used for executing criminals who committed serious offenses against the state or its citizens. The offender would be submerged in water until they drowned.2 Stoning

In some city-states, stoning was used as a form of execution for crimes such as adultery or blasphemy. The offender would be pelted with stones until they succumbed to their injuries.3 Hanging

Hanging was another method of execution used in ancient Greece. The offender would be suspended by a rope around their neck until they died from asphyxiation.4 Drinking Poison Hemlock

One of the most famous methods of execution in ancient Greece was drinking poison hemlock. This method was used for those found guilty of crimes such as corrupting the youth or impiety. The offender would be given a poisonous drink, causing a slow and painful death.


Ancient Greece had various forms of punishment to maintain social order and discourage criminal behavior. Fines, whipping, exile, and the death penalty were all utilized depending on the severity of the crime committed. These punishments served as both a means of retribution and a deterrent for potential offenders.