What Was Justice Like in Ancient Greece?

Justice in Ancient Greece was a complex and multifaceted concept. The Greeks believed that justice was an essential component of a well-functioning society, and they developed various systems to ensure that justice was served.

The Concept of Justice in Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks believed that justice was not just about punishing wrongdoers but also about promoting fairness and equality. They viewed justice as an essential element of good governance and believed that it was the responsibility of rulers to ensure that justice was served.

Legal Systems in Ancient Greece

There were several legal systems in ancient Greece, each with its own unique approach to justice. One of the most well-known legal systems was the Athenian legal system, which is often considered the precursor to modern Western legal systems.

The Athenian legal system relied on a jury of citizens, who were chosen by lot to hear cases and make judgments. The jurors were selected from a pool of eligible citizens and were expected to be impartial and fair in their decision-making.

Penal System in Ancient Greece

The penal system in ancient Greece was focused on punishment rather than rehabilitation. Punishments varied depending on the severity of the crime but often included fines, imprisonment, or even death.

However, there were also opportunities for criminals to seek forgiveness and redemption through various rituals and ceremonies. For example, those who had committed manslaughter could seek refuge at specific temples until their case was resolved.

Philosophical Views on Justice

Many influential philosophers in ancient Greece had their own views on justice. Plato believed that justice meant each person fulfilling their role within society, while Aristotle argued that justice meant treating equals equally and unequals unequally.


In conclusion, justice played a vital role in ancient Greek society. From legal systems to philosophical discussions about what constituted fairness and equality, the Greeks were deeply concerned with ensuring that justice was served. Their ideas and approaches to justice continue to influence modern legal systems and political philosophies today.