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date: 17 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys amnesty agreements throughout the Greek world in the Classical and Hellenistic ages and argues that in many the principle of political forgiveness was both important and necessary when reconciling communities in the aftermath of civil conflict. The most successful amnesties were those which made use of the law and prohibited the revisiting of old grievances which led to or stemmed from a period of internal strife. Where and when exceptions were made to this rule they normally had to be spelled out in the terms of a treaty. The methods by which individual cities put this principle into effect varied widely, but the most famous and enduring example, the Athenian amnesty of 403 BCE, illustrates that a community could only successfully reconcile if its citizens were willing to forgo vindictive instincts which otherwise would have destabilised it. Robust procedures were put in place to restrain vengeance and protect the rights of individuals.

Keywords: amnesty, stasis, forgiveness, vengeance, me mnesikakein, democracy, rule of law

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