HELLENISTIC LAW AND HELLENISTIC CULTURE
“Mixed Law” and “Mixed Civilization”
What is Hellenistic law? When the adjective “Hellenistic” applies to law, it needs to be explained, just as when it stands next to the words “era” or “civilization.” The idea of a “mixed civilization,” advocated in the past by the historians of Antiquity, following Johann Gustav Droysen for whom the Hellenistic world was the result of a mixture of Greek Occident and Barbarian Orient, is presently abandoned. The meeting of local traditions with practices and ideas which the Greco-Macedonian immigrants imported to the provinces of the Achaemenid Empire conquered by Alexander the Great could surely not help but act on the evolution of the law. The Greek traditions henceforth act in a space larger than the narrow framework of the Greek state, polis or ethnos, and this necessarily entailed changes in the substance of law. For their part, the local legal cultures must have been influenced by the Greek element entrenched in an Egyptian or Oriental environment. Interplay of mutual influences starts and directs the law-givers' action to solutions, which can combine a Greek form with a content determined by the local heritage. However, all this does not lead to a “mixture,” and the idea of “Hellenistic law” can in no way refer to such a mixture.
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