Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution

LCL 285: 6-7

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Athenian Constitution

Outline of Contents Part I. Constitutional History of Athens to 403 b.c.
  • (1) Fr. 1. Original hereditary absolute monarchy. Military command transferred from king to war-lord in time of Ion.
  • Fr. 2. Local division of royal power among four sons of Pandion.
  • Fr. 3. Unity restored by Theseus.
  • Fr. 4. Growth of popular power under Theseus.
  • (2) Fr. 5. Constitution in time of Theseus: four Tribes, Thirds, Brotherhoods, Clans.
  • Fr. 6. Murder of Theseus. Recovery of his bones by Athens.
  • Fr. 7. End of hereditary monarchy.
  • Fr. 8. Conspiracy of Cylon put down by Megacles.
  • MS. c. i. Pollution and purification of Athens.
  • c. ii. Civil disorders from forced labour of debtors.
  • c. iii. Constitution before Draco. Third archon instituted, the king retaining religious functions. Three archonships finally made annual, and six Thesmothetae added. An aristocracy, the nine archons being elected by the Areopagus, whose members were ex-archons. Conspiracy of Cylon. Discontent and poverty of lower orders.
  • (3) c. iv. Constitution of Draco, the first code of laws. Council of Four Hundred and One. Punishment of Alcmaeonidae.
  • (4) cc. v.–ix. Constitution of Solon: four property-classes with graded functions, the fourth takes part in the assembly and law-courts.

Athenian Constitution

  • c. x. Solon’s cancellation of debts, and system of weights and measures.
  • cc. xi., xii. Ten years of party strife. Solon’s poems.
  • (5) cc. xiii.–xix. Tyranny of Peisistratus and his sons.
  • (6) cc. xx.–xxii. Reforms of Cleisthenes. Creation of democracy.
  • (7) cc. xxiii., xxiv. Supremacy of Areopagus after Persian wars. Aristeides and Themistocles. Confederacy of Delos; taxation of allies.
  • (8) cc. xxv., xxvi. Democracy restored by Ephialtes, and extended by Pericles,
  • c. xxviii. Popular leadership, historical review.
  • (9) cc. xxix., xxx. Revolution of the Four Hundred; after failure of Sicilian expedition Athens forced to abandon democracy; citizenship to be limited to Five Thousand.
  • c. xxxi. The Council of Four Hundred govern as an oligarchy.
  • (10) cc. xxxii.–xxxiv. Counter-revolution: democracy restored. Then Sparta defeats Athens in the war and sets up the Thirty.
  • (11) cc. xxxv.–xxxviii. Despotic rule of the Thirty. They are put down by exiles led by Thrasybulus.
  • (12) cc. xxxix., xl. Extreme democracy restored: the people supreme; payment for attending Assembly.
  • c. xli. The eleven revolutions recapitulated.
Part II. The Existing Constitution
  • c. xlii. The franchise.
  • cc. xliii.–lx. The officials (a) elected by lot—the Council, archons, and others;
  • c. lxi. (b) elected by vote—military officers.
  • c. lxii. Payment of officials.
  • c lxiii. and foll. The law-courts: procedure.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-athenian_constitution.1935