The Greek laws from the earliest time prohibited polygamy, but sanctioned open concubinage. In Sparta the form of marriage was one of capture, in Athens that of a purchase; the former was a fiction, the latter a reality. The position of the wife in the household was a very low one except in Sparta. Divorce was freely permitted to the husband and under strict conditions to the wife.

The commercial law of the Greeks was mainly borrowed from the Babylonians through the Phoenicians. The criminal law differed greatly among the different states.

The writings and speculations of the Greek philosophers on the science of law and government which was later to have such a great influence upon Roman law, had very little effect upon that of their own country.