A son is impious who prosecutes his father


This case is puzzling for a variety of reasons. To begin with, homicide in ancient Athens was not a crime against the state. For the suit to come to trial, therefore, it had to be a private case in which the "prosecutor" was seeking correction for some injustice. Since this required that a relative of the deceased file the suit, it is very likely that the King Archon would dismiss the case on, what we might call, procedural grounds. Any citizen could file a private suit, however, if the murder created some type of religious pollution contrary to the best interests of the state. In any event, the facts surrounding the murderer's death are sufficiently murky to cause reflection on the meaning of piety and whether prosecution of one's own father is indeed holy!