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date: 09 December 2022

patrios politeialocked

patrios politeialocked

  • Simon Hornblower


Patrios politeia, ‘ancestral constitution (or way of life)’, slogan apparently (but see below) used in the late 5th cent. bce at Athens by proponents of *oligarchy, as a reassuring but fraudulent way of justifying constitutional change. See e.g. Ath. pol. 29. 3 (411); also 34. 3 (404), stressing explicitly the role of *Theramenes, which can be conjectured for 411 also. The fraud lay in the implied claim that earlier reformers like *Solon and *Cleisthenes (2) had denied full citizen rights (see citizenship, greek) to *thetes, the lowest Athenian property class, confining them to *hoplites (*zeugitai) and above. Such general nostalgia for the imagined world of Solon and Cleisthenes is found in the 4th cent. (see e.g. Isoc. 7. 20, although *Isocrates actually avoids the expression patrios politeia), and some of the tradition about the 5th cent. may reflect 4th-cent. arguments. See however Thuc. 8. 76. 6 for what may be a near-contemporary echo of the debate about the ancestral constitution at the time of the *Four Hundred; the reference is to oligarchic subversion of the ‘ancestral laws’.


  • Greek Law

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