The Kingdom Of Greece
: Japanese Fairy Tales
Because of its matchless philosophy, literature and art, ancient Greece is
still the marvel of the modern world, but little credit is given to old
Hellas as one of the principal sources of the jurisprudence of to-day. For
political reasons the Roman law was the overshadowing and dominating
system of ancient law, but the fountain head of the laws of Rome, even of
the Laws of the Twelve Tables, was the land of Demosthenes, Pericles,<
Solon and Lycurgus.
The great jurisconsults of the Roman Empire were not Roman but Greek
lawyers, not the least of whom was Gaius, the legal commentator who was
the Blackstone of his period.
The Roman Empire was the physical expression of Grecian intellect. Not
only the first lawyers but the first popes of Rome were Greeks.
The modern Kingdom of Greece has an excellent system of jurisprudence
based on the old Roman law, with modifications drawn from the Bavarian and
French. The commercial law has been adapted from the Code Napoleon, the
penal laws are of Bavarian origin, and the laws of marriage and divorce
are derived from the Roman law necessarily modified to harmonize with the
dogmas of the Orthodox Greek Church, which is the national church of the
The Areopagus existed in Greece as a court of justice before the first
Messenian war, 740 B. C. This court was situated on the Hill of Ares
outside the city of Athens, the very "Hill of Mars" on which St. Paul
preached in the year A. D. 52. We find historical mention of the Court of
Areopagus as late as the year 880 of the Christian Era. It is unlikely
that the Areopagus of to-day, which is the supreme court of appeal in
modern Greece, has any other relationship than the same venerable name
with the court of ancient times.
Besides the Court of the Areopagus, there are four other inferior courts
of appeal, one for each of the judicial districts of Greece. There are
also four commercial tribunals, seventeen courts of first instance, and
over two hundred justices of the peace. The standard of the Grecian
judiciary is very high, for only men of unblemished reputation who have
received the degree of doctor of law from a reputable European university
are eligible to the bench.
There is no habeas corpus act in Greece, but no one can be arrested, no
house can be entered, and no letter opened without a judicial warrant.
The supreme power of the Church of Greece is vested in the Holy Hellenic
Synod which consists of five members, who are appointed annually by the
King, and the majority of whom must be prelates. The Metropolitan
Archbishop of Athens is ex-officio president; two royal commissioners
attend without voting and the Synod's resolutions require to be confirmed
by them in the King's name. In all purely spiritual matters the Synod has
entire independence; but on questions having a civil side, such as
marriage and divorce, it can only act in concert with the civil
The Orthodox Greek Church as a matter of dogma treats marriage as a
sacrament or divine ordinance, but unlike the Latin Church, it holds that
for sufficient cause marriage may be legally dissolved, but not till a
probationary period has elapsed during which a bishop or priest mediates
with the purpose of reconciling the parties.
MARRIAGE.--Both by the law of the land and the church law, marriage in
Greece is treated as a social status which can only be concluded by a
religious celebration. A civil ceremony has no validity. If both the
parties or one of them are baptized members of the Orthodox Greek church,
the marriage must be celebrated before a priest and in accordance with the
laws and rites of that church.
When both of the parties are Roman Catholics they must be married by a
priest of their religion. If one of the parties is a Roman Catholic and
the other a member of the Orthodox Greek Church, the marriage must be
solemnized by a priest of the latter church. The rule is that mixed
marriages must be solemnized by a priest of the Greek Church.
Jews and Protestants may be married by the ministers of their respective
AGE.--The marriageable age of males begins at the completion of their
fourteenth year, and that of females at the completion of their twelfth
CONSENTS.--The free consent of the contracting parties is essential. For a
man under twenty-one years of age, or a woman under eighteen years of age,
the parental consent is also necessary.
MONOGAMY.--All persons are forbidden to contract a new marriage until a
previous marriage has been dissolved by death or divorce.
CONSANGUINITY AND AFFINITY.--Marriage is prohibited between persons of
whom one is descended in a direct line from the other. Collateral kinsmen
are forbidden to marry within the sixth degree. The degrees are counted
according to the Roman law method of reckoning which counts the number of
descents between the persons on both sides from the common ancestor. The
authorities of the national church may upon such facts as to them seem
proper grant a dispensation allowing a marriage within the forbidden
SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIP.--Marriage is expressly forbidden between
godparents and their godchildren, and between godchildren who have the
same godparent. A church dispensation is, however, easily obtained,
relieving the parties from the last mentioned impediment.
SPECIAL PROHIBITIONS.--Persons suffering from defective intellect,
insanity, syphilis or epilepsy are forbidden to conclude marriage.
Persons under religious vows to remain celibate cannot conclude marriage
unless dispensed from such vows.
Accomplices in adultery may not marry each other.
Persons in the military service may not conclude marriage without the
consent of the higher military authority.
PRIESTS.--A priest of the Orthodox Greek Church is required to marry once,
but he cannot contract a second marriage even after the death of his first
FOURTH MARRIAGE.--It is contrary to the law of the land as well as the law
of the church for any person to contract a fourth marriage.
BANNS.--All marriages must be preceded by the publication of banns.
FOREIGN MARRIAGES.--The Greek courts will not recognize the foreign
marriage of Greek subjects who are baptized members of the Orthodox Greek
Church unless the marriage was solemnized before a priest of that church.
This is the rule, even though in the country where the marriage was
concluded a civil ceremony is sufficient and obligatory.
DIVORCE.--Absolute divorces are granted for the following causes:
1. Adultery of either husband or wife.
2. Cruel and inhuman treatment, endangering life or health.
3. An attempt by either spouse to kill the other.
4. Threat to kill.
5. The condemnation and imprisonment of either spouse for an infamous or
6. Confirmed habits of drunkenness.
8. Incurable impotence of either party.
PROCEDURE.--All suits for divorce must be instituted in the ecclesiastical
courts of the Orthodox Greek Church.
EFFECTS OF DIVORCE.--Both parties are free to remarry, but the wife must
wait until a full year has elapsed from the granting of a decree before
contracting a new marriage.
The wife must not use the surname of her divorced husband.
If the wife is the successful suitor, she can recover from the defeated
party the dowry she brought to him at marriage. She has a right also to
retain any gifts she may have received from him either before or after
In some instances the husband is obliged to pay alimony to his divorced
wife during her lifetime, up to the time she contracts a new marriage.
If the parties have children, such of them as are so young as to need a
mother's care are temporarily awarded to the woman's custody even though
she be the party declared to be guilty in the divorce suit.