inheritance, Greek

D. M. MacDowell

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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In Athens, if a deceased man left legitimate sons, they shared the property equally; if a son predeceased his father leaving sons of his own, those sons inherited their father's share. If the deceased man left a daughter but no son, the daughter's sons inherited. If she did not yet have a son, she was epiklēros (imprecisely translated ‘heiress’) and could be claimed in marriage by the nearest male relative, who took charge of the property until their son was old enough to take it over. If there were no legitimate children, relatives within the *ankhisteia could claim. A man without sons could in effect choose an heir by adoption: the adoptee became legally the son of the adopter and so inherited the property, but could not oust an epiklēros; he might marry her himself, but anyway her son inherited eventually. A law introduced by *Solon permitted adoption by will, taking effect only on the testator's death. Another possibility was posthumous *adoption, by which the relatives arranged for one of themselves to become legally the deceased man's son.

Article.  371 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Law

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