Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

Greek Epigraphy and Religion



Publisher Name


Publisher Location

Leiden, The Netherlands


The Latin phrase leges sacrae and its various translations (sacred laws, lois
sacrées, heilige Gesetze) have been applied since at least the nineteenth cen-
tury to various collections of inscribed documents. It is a modern invention
born out of the German Wissenschaft ideology of systematic, scientific, com-
prehensive methods of inquiry. This rubric and the collecting of Greek inscrip-
tions under it have always been recognized as problematically subjective, and
in the last decade or so a flurry of scholarship has critiqued the corpora more
directly. Much of this analysis has focused on the leges half of leges sacrae:
whether “sacred law” corresponds to an ancient category, what legal aspects of
sacred laws distinguish them from other laws and decrees, and how their terms
might have been enforced. What has been less examined, however, is what de-
fines the subject matter that led to the classification of these documents as
sacrae. What is sacred about Greek sacred law?


Author Posting © Brill, 2020. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the Brill for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Greek Epigraphy and Religion, Pages 11-26 December 2020.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.