Unit 2. The first laws: ancient Greece and Rome — КиберПедия 

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Unit 2. The first laws: ancient Greece and Rome

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TASK 1. Read the text and write down Russian equivalents for the words and expressions in bold type:

The Legal Heritage of Greece and Rome

The ancient Greeks were among the first to develop a concept of law that separated everyday law from religious beliefs. Before the Greeks most civilizations attributed their laws to their gods or goddesses. Instead, the Greeks believed that laws were made by the people for the people.

In the seventh century B.C., Draco* drew up Greece’s first comprehensive written code of laws. Under Draco’s code death was the punishment for most offences. Thus, the term draconian usually applies to extremely harsh measures.

Several decades passed before Solon — poet, military hero, and ultimately Athens’ lawgiverdevised a new code of laws. Trial by jury, an ancient Greek tradition was retained, but enslaving debtors was prohibited as were most of the harsh punishments of Draco’s code.Under Solon’s law citizens of Athens were eligible to serve in the assembly and courts were established in which they could appeal government decisions.

What the Greeks may have contributed to the Romans was the concept of “natural law. ” In essence, natural law was based on the belief that certain basic principles are above the laws of a nation. These principles arise from the nature of people. The concept of natural law and the development of the first true legal system had a profound effect on the modem world.

* Draco — ['dreikou] — Драконт (т.ж. Трахонт), афинский законодатель

 

TASK 2. Complete the following table with the appropriate verb or noun forms:

Verb Noun
to attribute  
  belief
  punishment
to develop  
  offence
to separate  
  decision
to apply  
  government
to prohibit  
to serve  
to establish  
to appeal  
to refer to  

TASK 3. Work in teams. Make up a logical law –related story containing both verbs and nouns from Task 2. Use no fewer than 7 words.

 

TASK 4. Answer the following questions:

1. What does the ancient Greek concept of law comprise?

2. Why were the first laws mainly attributed to divine powers?

3. What is the origin and the meaning of the word “draconian”?

4. How do you understand the concept of “natural law”?

5. What was Solon’s contribution to ancient law?

 

TASK 5. Read the text and use the words in bold type to render the text in Task 6:

Solon (b. 630 — d. 560 B.C.)

Solon, the Athenian statesman, is known as one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. He ended exclusive aristocratic control of the government, substituted a system of control by the wealthy, and introduced a new and more humane law code. He was also a noted poet.

Unfortunately, it was not until the 5th century B.C. that accounts of his life and works began to be put together, mostly on the evidence of his poems and his law code. Although certain details have a legendary ring, the main features of his story seem to be reliable. Solon was of noble descent but moderate means. He first became prominent in about 600 B.C. The early 6th century was a troubled time for the Athenians.

Society was dominated by an aristocracy of birth, who owned the best land, monopolized the government, and were themselves split into rival factions. The social, economic, and political evils might well have culminated in a revolution and subsequent tyranny (dictatorship), as they had in other Greek states, had it not been for Solon, to whom Athenians of all classes turned in the hope of a generally satisfactory solution of their problems. Because he believed in moderation and in an ordered society in which each class had its proper place and function, his solution was not revolution but reform.

Solon’s great contribution to the future good of Athens was his new code of laws. The first written code at Athens, that of Draco, was still in force. Draco’s laws were shockingly severe(hence the term draconian) — so severe that they were said to have been written not in ink but in blood. On the civil side they permitted enslavement for debt, and death seems to have been the penalty for almost all criminal offenses. Solon revised every statute except that on homicide and made Athenian law altogether more humane.

 

TASK 6. Render the following text into English using the vocabulary and information from the texts above:

Драконт

Драконт— афинский законодатель, чьи крайне суровые законы предусматривали только одно наказание— смерть— как за незначительные нарушения, так и за тяжкие преступления, совершенные в Афинах. Его имя теперь связывают со всем жестоким и безжалостным — ‘драконовские меры’, ‘драконовы законы’, ‘драконовский кодекс’.

Кодекс Драконта, который принято датировать 621 г. до н.э., не был первым записанным сводом афинских законов, но он, возможно, был первым всеобъемлющим кодексом или переработкой предыдущих законов.

Позднее Солон отменил законы, созданные Драконтом, и издал новые, оставив лишь прежнее наказание за убийство.

 

CREATIVE WRITING

Since nо law is perfect, ancient laws left much to be desired. Consult the READER for the extracts from Hammurabi's code. Work in teams to ‘amend’ the ancient legal code. Use the active vocabulary from the Unit. Present your ideas to the rest of the class.

 


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