Juvenile Delinquency Existence In The GrecoRoman Essay

Juvenile Delinquency Existence In The Greco-Roman Essay, Research Paper

Juvenile Delinquency Existence in the Greco-Roman WorldJuvenile delinquency is a social problem that is widely recognized bysociologists as well as the general public. This problem of juvenile delinquency hasnot only existed in current history, but is one that probably predates even ancienthistory. As for this study I will concentrate on juvenile delinquency’s existence in theGreco-Roman world and at times I will draw some comparisons to today’s society. There were many social situations of the Greco-Roman world that contributed to theexistence of juvenile delinquency. In regards to this paper juvenile delinquency can bedefined as “any act committed by a juvenile that is, according to the legal system ofthe time, punishable by law”. First let me give attention to the fact that in the Greco-Roman worldthere was no such classification as “Juvenile Delinquency”. The reason for this non-recognition was:”do chiefly to the fact that the ancient world was almost wholly incapableof identifying a social trend, formulating a social theory or implementing asocial policy. What the modern world identifies as “social ills” such asvagrancy, homelessness, divorce, illegitimacy, and delinquency, could only be discussed on the individual and personnel level. They(the social ills)could not be perceived as phenomena embedded in society as a whole.Nor could they be discussed within a conceptual or theoretical framework, due largely to the simple fact that the Greeks and Romans did not keep statistics on such matters.” (Garland, 1-2)Social trends were not recognized or recorded, therefore juvenile delinquency is adifficult topic to investigate but through other sources some conclusions can be made. These other sources include descriptions of the people, events of the times, as well aspopular mythology of the time. Even without a formal recognition, it does becomeclear that juvenile delinquency was a large problem that existed in both Greece andRome. Dealing first in Greece, the story of Ariston as told by the orator and politicianDemosthenes, is a clear example. Ariston, a young man living in classical Greece, had been the victim ofan unprovoked attack while walking late one night through the heart of the Atheniancity. After the assault, Ariston indicted the father of the chief assailant, a man calledKonon. Konon’s son, Ktesias, had made a habit of getting drunk at lunch-time,

ignoring warnings from his commander, and amusing himself by pouring the contentsof his chamber pot over slaves heads. Ktesias’ disrespectful actions wererepresentations of the lack of discipline given to him by his military commander aswell as his father, in fact Ktesias’ father Konon was even involved in the assault. The assault on Ariston included tearing his cloak off, pushing him into the mud,striking him so violently that his eye swelled up and his lip bled, and then verbalassaulting him while he lied helpless. During the attack Konon stood next to his sonand encouraged his son’s actions by imitating the sounds made by fighting cocks afterthey have been victorious. Fortunately for Ariston, he was picked up by others passingby. The parallels to today’s times are easy to draw. First the attack likemany in today’s society was triggered by alcohol, Konon and his son had previouslybeen to a drinking party. Secondly Athenian military service, because of its loosediscipline, fostered the tendency to commit acts of senseless violence instead of actingas a safe outlet for youths. This is one current argument today in the explanation ofdelinquency. When Ariston addressed the jury he warned them that they were likelyto hear Konon try to defend his son along the “boys will be boys tradition”. Aristonexpressed his belief that Konan would try to portray Ktesias as no different then otheryoung people in Athens who come from good backgrounds and become infatuatedwith prostitutes and then come to blows over them. In relation to other’s behaviorKonon was going to try to show that his son’s behavior was perfectly normal. Aristonstressed the fact that prostitutes had nothing to do with the assault but that his attackerwas nurturing a grudge against him for telling tales to his commander. How the caseturned out or to what level in actuality Ariston brought the attack upon himself doesnot present my point. The point is that this incident was not an isolated one and thatthe defendants characterization of young Athenian males can be look at as an accurateone. Young manhood in Greece was typically characterized by combativeness,drunkenness, and sexual excess. Their rivalry must have featured prominently in asociety highly competitive in all its forms of social expression. Another way juvenile delinquency in the Greco-Roman world ispresented is within Greek mythology. Greek mythology leads us to suspect that theGreek c


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