Ransom at Athens ([Dem.] 53.11)
“The laws even command that he who is ransomed belongs to the one who ransomed him from the enemy, if he does not pay the ransom” ([Dem] 53.11). This is widely regarded as an exception to Solon’ s law against enslavement for debt. Harris has made a strong case that the law cited by Apollodoros’ opponent did not concern debt-slavery. This paper suggests, furthermore, that the law did not apply to him and his situation at all; that we have misunderstood what this law “commands;” that ransom was a more varied process than scholars have allowed; and that the law on ransom, so often thought to have been an exception to the ban on debt-slavery, may in fact have been essential to the broader objective of which the ban was part.
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