Decrees of Fourth-Century Athens (403/2-322/1 BC): Volume 1: The Literary Evidence

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Decree-making is a defining aspect of ancient Greek political activity: it was the means by which city-state communities went about deciding to get things done. The Athenians in the fourth century BC distinguished between, on the one hand, laws (community-sanctioned rules with permanent and general application) and, on the other, decrees of the assembly (community-sponsored decisions with specific and sometimes temporary application). Typical subjects of decrees included the award of citizenship, the bestowal of an honorific crown, the declaration of war, the enactment of a treaty with another community.
There is currently a good deal of work being undertaken on the decrees of Athens that are preserved on stone inscriptions: Stephen Lambert has recently published a new edition of the inscribed laws and decrees of Athens from the period 352/1-322/1 BC (IG II3 1), and has created a website which offers, free of charge, translations of them and other inscriptions ( Meanwhile, in a very important book, Mirko Canevaro has demonstrated that most documentary versions of Athenian decrees appearing in literary texts are later forgeries.
In these two volumes, the literary evidence for decrees of the fourth-century Athenian assembly is comprehensively collected, translated and explained. The volumes are relevant to scholars and students of ancient history and politics; they provide new perspectives on the working of ancient Greek direct democracy and its political legacy. Volume 1 consists of texts, translations, commentaries, and bibliography on the testimonia. This adds up to evidence for 245 firmly-attested decrees, plus another 90 which may (or may not) be identified as decrees.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages1006
ISBN (Print)9781107184985
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2020


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