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The Rule of Law in Action in Democratic Athens$
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Edward M. Harris

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199899166

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199899166.001.0001

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What Are the Laws of Athens About?

What Are the Laws of Athens About?

Substance and Procedure in Athenian Statutes

(p.138) 4 What Are the Laws of Athens About?
The Rule of Law in Action in Democratic Athens

Edward M. Harris

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the structure of Athenian laws and their substantive and procedural aspects. It covers the organization and conceptualization of Athenian laws; the content of Athenian laws in the Attic Orators; the content of Athenian laws preserved in inscriptions; and definitions of Athenian laws. It shows that Athenian laws were more concerned with substantive matters than with aspects of procedure. Thus, the Athenians did not use their laws only to provide a way to get a dispute into court. The aim of legislation was to give orders about how to act in daily life and rules about how to resolve conflicts in the courts. The aim of law was to shape the behavior of everyone in society.

Keywords:   Athenian laws, rule of law, legislation, Attic Orators

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