Page:Ancient Law.djvu/18

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CHAP. I.
5
THEMISTES.

human king on earth," says Mr. Grote, in his History of Greece, "is not a lawmaker, but a judge." He is provided with Themistes, but, consistently with the belief in their emanation from above, they cannot be supposed to be connected by any thread of principle; they are separate, isolated judgments.

Even in the Homeric poems, we can see that these ideas are transient. Parities of circumstanced were probably commoner in the simple mechanism of ancient society than they are now, and in the succession of similar cases awards are likely to follow and resemble each other. Here we have the germ or rudiment of a Custom, a conception posterior to that of Themistes or judgments. However strongly we, with our modern associations, may be inclined to lay down à priori that the notion of a Custom must precede that of a judicial sentence, and that a judgment must affirm a Custom or punish its breach, it seems quite certain that the historical order of the ideas is that in which I have placed them. The Homeric word for a custom in the embryo is sometimes "Themis" in the singular—more often "Dike," the meaning of which visibly fluctuates between a "judgment" and a "custom" or "usage." Νόμος, a Law, so great and famous a term in the political vocabulary of the later Greek society, does not occur in Homer.

B 3