The position occupied by Greece in the legal history of the world is far less important than in most branches of intellectual activity. The Greeks were never great law-makers. What work was done by this people in the development of the law, was in the role of conservators and transmitters rather than originators. Very little that originated in Greece has had any appreciable effect upon the later course of the world's laws; but Greece rendered an important service by receiving from Babylonia and the East much of what was best of their systems of jurisprudence and preserving this store for the nations who were to come later. Thus while Greece cannot rank with Babylonia and Rome as a great law-developing nation, still her work in this direction cannot be passed over in absolute silence in a work on Legal History.

It was particularly by Rome that Grecian influence was felt, and Roman law-makers drew largely from Greece, for the materials for the jus gentium. What they received, however, was rather the work of Babylonian than Grecian legislators. Grecian philosophers, in fact, influenced Roman law more than Grecian lawmakers.

In the study of Grecian laws, and public institutions, a difficulty is met at the threshold in the fact that ancient Greece during the days of her independence was never one country. The political subdivisions of Greece were generally small and their number large. The highest stage of development in law as in other lines was reached by Athens and it is her law which is mainly discussed in this chapter.