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Kakosis (κάκωσις). In the Attic law, κάκωσις signifies one of the following kinds of ill-treatment:

(1) The ill-treatment of parents by their children (κάκωσις γονέων), the term γονεῖς including also grandparents and great-grandparents. Refusal to supply the parents with means of support or to bury them with proper honours at death, equally with actual abuse or disobedience, formed instances of κάκωσις. An illegitimate child, however, was not liable to this action.

(2) Infidelity or ill-treatment of wives by their husbands (κάκωσις γυναικῶν), including also the neglect of the law of Solon by which the husband was bound to visit his wife three times every month, at least, if she were an heiress ( Plut. Sol.30). In the comedy of Cratinus, called the Wine Flask (Πυτίνη), Comedy was represented as the wife of Cratinus, who brought an action against him because he neglected her and devoted all his attention to the wine-flask (Schol. ad Equit. 399).

(3) Injury committed against orphans or widows (κάκωσις τῶν ὀρφανῶν καὶ χηρευουσῶν γυναικῶν), who were all considered to be under the especial protection of the chief archon.

All cases of κάκωσις belonged to the jurisdiction of the chief archon in the case of citizens, or to the polemarch in the case of metoeci (Meier, Att. Process, p. 269; Perrot, Essai sur le Droit Public, p. 264). If a person wronged in any way orphans, heiresses, or widows, the archon could inflict a fine himself; or, if he considered the person deserving of greater punishment, could bring him before the Heliaea. Any private individual could also accuse parties guilty of κάκωσις by means of laying an information (εἰσαγγελία) before the chief archon, though sometimes the accuser proceeded by means of a regular indictment (γραφή), with an ἀνάκρισις before the archon. Those who accused persons guilty of κάκωσις incurred no danger, as was usually the case if the defendant was acquitted and they did not obtain the fifth part of the votes of the dicasts.

The punishment does not appear to have been fixed for the different cases of κάκωσις, but it was generally severe. Those found guilty of κάκωσις γόνεων lost their civil rights (ἀτιμία), but were allowed to retain their property; if the κάκωσις consisted in beating their parents, the hands of the offenders might even be cut off.

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