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The first witness
Author/s: Eva Cantarella 
Year:  2013 Issue: Language: Italian 
Pages:  8 Pg. 64-71 FullText PDF:  191 KB
DOI:  10.3280/SD2013-001005
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This essay starts by examining the figure of the witness described in Book XVIII of Homer’s Iliad, before drawing up a critical appraisal of the permission granted to victims or to their relatives to be heard and to submit a statement in the course of criminal proceedings in the United States, as a consequence of the Victims’ Rights Movement. The figure of the history, i.e. the witness, who is heard during criminal proceedings for the purpose of determining whether the person accused of homicide has paid the agreed sum (poinḗ), or blood money) to the victim or the victim’s family, so as to re-establish his honour - fell within a conception of the proceedings that considered their purpose to be not the punishment of socially harmful behaviour, but the award of compensation for the damage caused to the honour of the victim and of his family. Similarly, granting the victim the right to be heard and to submit a statement in the sentencing phase of the proceedings now appears to lead towards a privatisation of the criminal proceedings that is contrary to the principle of a state based on the rule of law. In this way, the purpose of the proceedings would be not to ascertain the crime and establish guilt, but to ensure the affluence (and sometimes unfortunately also the satisfaction of the desire for vendetta) of the victims and their families
Keywords: The Iliad - Homer - Victims’ rights - Criminal trial - Witness statement - Victims’ Rights Movement

  1. Cantarella, Eva, 1972. Lo scudo di Achille: Considerazioni sul processo in età omerica. Rivista Italiana di Scienze Giuridiche, 16: 247-267. —, 2002. Dispute Settlement in Homer: Once Again on the Shield of Achilles. In Johannes Strangas (a cura di), Antike Rechte und Gesellschaft: Festschrift für Panayotis Dimakis. Athína: Sakkoulas. —, 2007. Il ritorno della vendetta: Pena di morte: giustizia o assassinio? Milano: Rizzoli.
  2. Zimring, Franklin E., [2003] 2009. La pena di morte: Le contraddizioni del sistema penale americano. Bologna: Il Mulino

Eva Cantarella, The first witness in "SOCIOLOGIA DEL DIRITTO " 1/2013, pp. 64-71, DOI:10.3280/SD2013-001005


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