Law in the Homeric society is expressed through the notions of themis and dike. In the mythology, Themis and Dike are two related female divinities, each possessing her specific prerogatives. The relationship between the goddesses is indicative of the signification of the common names derived from them: as Dike is born from Themis, dike proceeds from themis, to which it must relate and submit. Themis and dike are two different aspects of the Greek law; far from opposing, they are intimately linked to one another. Themis refers to a need for balance, expressed through the more concrete form of the themistes; while dike is responsible for the observance of these precepts of good behaviour. In other words, dike represents the imposed human behaviour or rule expressed to respect and preserve themis, the normative and ordering principle guaranteed by the gods. The analysis of the judicial concepts of themis and dike indicates the existence of an organised and hierarchical law, whose purpose is represented by themis, whereas dike represents its application, guaranteeing harmony and social peace. The Homeric conception of law includes a divine dimension, underlining another hierarchy among the legal protagonists. Indeed, Zeus appears as the key source of inspiration of the law; he becomes its protector and first representative. Responsible for enforcing the law in the name of Zeus, the Homeric kings are then made custodians of a normative and jurisdictional function, delegated by the god.
Keywords: Law, themis, dike, jurisdictional authority, hierarchy, normative laws.