Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Rule of Law in Action in Democratic Athens$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

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

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 20 October 2018

Did the Athenian Courts Attempt to Achieve Consistency?

Did the Athenian Courts Attempt to Achieve Consistency?

The Use of Precedents in Forensic Oratory

(p.246) 7 Did the Athenian Courts Attempt to Achieve Consistency?
The Rule of Law in Action in Democratic Athens

Edward M. Harris

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how the Athenians attempted to cope with law's “open texture,” that is, the potential ambiguity of statutes. Some scholars have claimed that the Athenian courts were not interested in consistency and tended to judge cases on an ad hoc basis. While it is true that litigants did not often cite previous cases in forensic oratory, this was because most trials concerned questions of fact. When questions concerning the interpretation of statute arose, it was not unusual for litigants to appeal to precedents or to the intent of the lawgiver to support their legal arguments. Litigants used precedents to show that their interpretation of the law was the traditional one, accepted by other citizens.

Keywords:   Athenian law, rule of law, open texture, statutes, precedents, litigants

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .