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The Concept of Punishment in Ancient Greece

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Chapter Summary

An overview of beliefs and practices related to guilt and punishment in the Hebrew Bible discloses much variety of thought and feeling among the Hebrews. Some passages reflect a cosmological background, while many others bespeak personalist beliefs. The religions and cultures of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, India, and China are based on conceptions of the order of the universe, and of the order of society that mirrors it. The oldest and most controversial text in pre-Socratic philosophy, Anaximander's fragment 1, may serve as a key to the "natural" moral foundations of Greek thinking. The passage can be adequately understood in the light of ancient cosmological presuppositions. The term dike is a general-purpose expression covering various aspects of social order in ancient Greece. In ancient Greece the general view was that the gods do not deal with humankind capriciously. In general, the Hebrew religion reserves punishment for intended sins and crimes.

Keywords: ancient Greece; dike; Hebrew Bible; social order



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