Juvenile Delinquency Existence in the Greco-Roman World Juvenile delinquency is a social problem that is widely recognized by sociologists as well as the general public. This problem of juvenile delinquency has not only existed in current history, but is one that probably predates even ancient history. As for this study I will concentrate on juvenile delinquency’s existence in the Greco-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 the existence of juvenile delinquency. In regards to this paper juvenile delinquency can be defined as “any act committed by a juvenile that is, according to the legal system of the time, punishable by law.” First let me give attention to the fact that in the Greco-Roman world there 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 incapable of identifying a social trend, formulating a social theory or implementing a social policy. What the modern world identifies as “social ills” such as vagrancy, 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 a difficult topic to investigate but through other sources some conclusions can be made. These other source include descriptions of the people, events of the times, as well as popular mythology of the time. Even without a formal recognition, it does become clear that juvenile delinquency was a large problem that existed in both Greece and Rome. Dealing first in Greece, the story of Ariston as told by the orator and politician Demosthenes, is a clear example. Ariston, a young man living in classical Greece, had been the victim of an unprovoked attack while walking late one night through the heart of the Athenian city.
The controversy surrounding the extent and causation of delinquency would be eliminated if a uniform meaning could be attributed to the term delinquency. This word however is not used in a uniform manner not only among individuals but also consistently by a single individual. Juvenile delinquency means and represents many things to many individuals. To the police, a delinquent juvenile may be an ...
After the assault, Ariston indicted the father of the chief assailant, a man called Konon. 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 contents of his chamber pot over slaves heads. Ktesias’ disrespectful actions were representations of the lack of discipline given to him by his military commander as well 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 verbal assaulting him while he lied helpless. During the attack Konon stood next to his son and encouraged his son’s actions by imitating the sounds made by fighting cocks after they have been victorious. Fortunately for Ariston, he was picked up by others passing by.
The parallels to today’s times are easy to draw. First the attack like many in today’s society was triggered by alcohol, Konon and his son had previously been to a drinking party. Secondly Athenian military service, because of its loose discipline, fostered the tendency to commit acts of senseless violence instead of acting as a safe outlet for youths. This is one current argument today in the explanation of delinquency. When Ariston addressed the jury he warned them that they were likely to hear Konon try to defend his son along the “boys will be boys tradition.” Ariston expressed his belief that Konon would try to portray Ktesias as no different then other young people in Athens who come from good backgrounds and become infatuated with prostitutes and then come to blows over them. In relation to other’s behavior Konon was going to try to show that his son’s behavior was perfectly normal.
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Ariston stressed the fact that prostitutes had nothing to do with the assault but that his attacker was nurturing a grudge against him for telling tales to his commander. How the case turned out or to what level in actuality Ariston brought the attack upon himself does not present my point. The point is that this incident was not an isolated one and that the defendants characterization of young Athenian males can be look at as an accurate one. Young manhood in Greece was typically characterized by combativeness, drunkenness, and sexual excess.
Their rivalry must have featured prominently in a society highly competitive in all its forms of social expression. Another way juvenile delinquency in the Greco-Roman world is presented is within Greek mythology. Greek mythology leads us to suspect that the Greek c.