Monday, October 26, 2020

The National Hellenic Museum Tests Ancient Democracy at the Trial of Megacles

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Acclaimed NHM Trial Series Returns March 1st

CHICAGO (Jan. 17, 2018) – Having received high acclaim for the Trials of Socrates, Orestes, Antigone, and the Parthenon Marbles, the National Hellenic Museum (NHM) will again partner with prominent judges and attorneys to take on another case with ancient roots and modern consequences. The NHM will present The Trial of Megacles: A Test of Democracy on March 1 at the Rubloff Auditorium, 230 S. Columbus Drive in Chicago. Tickets and sponsorships are now available.

In 632 BCE, Megacles, a leader of Athens, stood trial for the murder of Olympic champion Cylon. After failing in a coup against the fledgling democracy, Cylon and his followers sought sanctuary in the Temple of Athena. Megacles assured Cylon that he would receive a fair trial and his life would be spared if he left the refuge of the temple. After negotiations, and even tying themselves to the temple, Cylon and his men agreed to leave its safety. Despite his promise, Megacles ordered their deaths. Megacles will once again be on trial, and with him, the underpinnings of democratic principles.

The NHM Trial Series provides the audience with a unique experience of witnessing top legal minds in a live courtroom-style debate. Returning to preside over the event are: from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William J. Bauer and retired Judge Richard A. Posner, along with US District Judge Charles P. Kocoras and Cook County Circuit Judge Anna H. Demacopoulos. New this year to the panel of judges is US District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman.

Megacles’s fellow leaders were offended by his lies, believing that he had betrayed the core principles of the new democracy. After a trial, Megacles was found guilty and punished for violating the sanctity of supplicants, and subverting the laws of Athens. Furthermore, his entire family was cast out of the city for six generations and, according to legend, marked with a curse.

Did protecting Athenian democracy justify deceiving a traitor? Or did Megacles betray democratic ideals? The case of Megacles presents timeless questions and highlights the issues that continue to test the citizens and the tenets of any democracy.

Prosecuting the case will be former US Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Patrick M. Collins of King & Spaulding and Tinos Diamantatos of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. The defense team is composed of Dan K. Webb of Winston & Strawn, Robert A. Clifford of Clifford Law Offices and Christina Faklis Adair of Gozdecki, Del Giudice, Americus, Farkas & Brocato.

The dynamic NHM Trial Series has grown both in reputation and following over the years. 2016’s Trial of Antigone was broadcast on WTTW-TV (PBS Chicago) in May 2017 and nominated for a regional Emmy. 2017’s Trial of the Parthenon Marbles sold-out the auditorium at over 700 attendees. Rarely does one have the opportunity to watch such compelling legal arguments presented in person.

“Truth comes from taking an idea and arguing it from all sides until it is fully uncovered and well-polished. The best truth comes from hearty debate. We have the Greeks to thank for this legacy in our democracy,” saysJudge Charles P. Kocoras, a proud participant of every one of the NHM Trials.

At NHM Trial Series, the esteemed panel of judges presides over the event and a jury composed of community leaders also provides opinions. Past jurors include WGN’s Andrea Darlas, Fox 32’s Larry Yellen, and Chicago Tribune’s John Kass. Tipping the scales, the ultimate guilty or not-guilty verdict comes down to an audience vote. To cast your vote, join The NHM Trial of Megacles: A Test of Democracy on Thursday, March 1. Doors open at 6 pm with The NHM Trial of Megacles beginning at 6:30 pm.

Tickets are $100 and available for purchase online at, by calling the Development Team at 312-655-1234 ext. 21, or in person at the National Hellenic Museum Store, 333 S. Halsted Street in Chicago.

The Emmy-nominated NHM Trial of Antigone is available on DVD at the National Hellenic Museum website. Along with the Trial of Socrates, the Trial of Antigone also can be purchased in the Museum Store, 333 S. Halsted Street. The sold-out 2017 NHM Trial of the Parthenon Marbles event will debut on DVD this month and television broadcast discussions are underway.

The NHM Trial of Megacles is expected to be accredited for continuing legal education (CLE) credit.


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