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Creating a ConstitutionLaw, Democracy, and Growth in Ancient Athens$
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Federica Carugati

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195636

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195636.001.0001

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Constitution and Consensus

Constitution and Consensus

Chapter:
(p.38) 2 Constitution and Consensus
Source:
Creating a Constitution
Author(s):

Federica Carugati

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691195636.003.0003

This chapter focuses on the constitutional crisis of Athens and the reforms that followed it. After the collapse of democracy four distinct governments—three oligarchic and one democratic—rose and fell in the span of roughly a decade. As the Athenians responded to the failures of these governments, they came to identify, collectively, the basic features that a governmental structure had to display to command their consent. The process of consensus-building revolved around the notion of patrios politeia. The meaning of patrios politeia evolved during the struggles. If under the first oligarchic government the notion expressed a vague connection with Athens' past, by the end of the civil war, it became closely associated with the concept of legality, particularly as embodied by Athens' archaic lawgiver Solon. When the constitutional struggles came to an end, the consensus on Solonian legality inspired a set of reforms, which created a new self-enforcing democratic constitution. The reforms were self-enforcing in the sense that they made both the oligarchs and the democrats better off.

Keywords:   constitutional crisis, democracy, oligarchic, democratic, patrios politeia, Athens, civil war, Solon, democratic constitution

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