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The Root Origin of Trial By Jury


The Greek Goddess, Athena, identified with the patriarchy and usually cast her power and support on their side during any dispute. In the first jury trial in recorded history, she cast the deciding vote to acquit Orestes of the murdering of his mother to avenge his father's death. Athena was persuaded by Apollo's argument in Orestes' defense that the death of a mother was of less importance than a father's death, since the woman simply nurtured the seed while it was actually the man who planted it. This is the story.

Mycenae is best known from Mythology. Here is the Reader's Digest version of events surrounding the city:

Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, had a brother named Menelaus, King of Sparta. These two brothers married two sisters, Clytemnestra and Helen. Clytemnestra was Agamemnon's bride and Helen, Menelaus'. Helen was of renowned beauty and was offered to a Trojan prince, Paris, by Aphrodite (Goddess of Beauty and Love) by judging her the most beautiful Goddess. So, Helen went, somewhat willingly, with Paris to Troy. This enraged the brothers, and Agamemnon arranged an expedition to go to Troy to bring Helen back. However, Artemis (Goddess of the Hunt, and of the Moon) stopped the winds from blowing because Agamemnon had shot one of her prized deer. She made him sacrifice his daughter to make amends and to bring back the wind. After this, the party of Greeks set sail for Troy. This resulted in the Trojan war, a war that lasted ten years. (The Iliad, Homer)

During these ten years, Clytemnestra finds a lover, Aigisthos. The two rule Mycenae together after they drive Agamemnon's son, Orestes, and his remaining daughter, Electra, into exile. Upon Agamemnon's return, Clytemnestra and Aigisthos slaughter Agamemnon in his bath with an ax. Ten more years pass, and Orestes finds himself at the Temple of Apollo (God of Light, and the Sun) at Delphi. Apollo tells Orestes that to avenge his father's death, he must slay his mother and her lover. Orestes returns to Mycenae and kills Clytemnestra and Aigisthos. Because he killed his mother, The Furies rise up from Earth and try to take vengeance for the death of Clytemnestra (killing one's mother was a serious crime). The Furies chase Orestes to Delphi where Apollo tells Orestes to go to Athens and ask for Athena's forgiveness. Orestes then goes to Athens where he seeks shelter in the temple of Athena (Goddess of Wisdom, Patron of Athens) and begs for forgiveness. He is put on trial by the Athenians in front of the Aropagus. The jury reports a six-six tie and Athena casts the final vote, finding him not guilty.

This was the first instance of a jury trial.

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