Divided power and deliberation: decision-making procedures in the Greek City-States (434-150 B.C.)
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date26/11/2022
This thesis examines the institutional design and the procedures regulating the decree-making in the poleis of the Classical and Hellenistic periods. The main contention of this thesis is that Greek decree-making is to be conceived as the result of a multi-layered system of interaction and delegation of deliberative authority among different institutions: councils, officials, assemblies and lawcourts. My thesis argues, therefore, that decree-making procedures were specifically designed to implement the concept of ‘divided power’, a value shared by both democracies and non-democratic regimes, and to shape the collective behaviour of the citizens when acting as decision-makers within the institutions. By adopting models from the political sciences, my thesis bridges the gap between institutional approaches to political decision-making and more recent approaches that have stressed the role of values and ideology as key factors to understand ancient Greek politics. Chapter 1 lays out the methodology of the thesis informed by the New Historical Institutionalism. Chapter 2 analyses the practice of delegation of power from the Athenian Assembly to the Athenian Council in order to enact additional measures. The careful study of the delegation-clauses sheds light on the administrative power of the Council by demonstrating that the Council played a proper policy-making role through the enactment of a decree, which was the product of Council’s expertise in defined matters, such as religious affairs, foreign policy and the navy. Chapter 3 builds on the findings of the previous chapter, and shows the workings and development of delegation-clauses to the Council in two examples from outside Athens, Mytilene and Megalopolis over the longue durée. Chapter 4 deals with the deliberative procedures of Hellenistic Sparta. The Spartan ‘divided power’ envisaged that the Gerousia shared the probouleutic power with the ephors who could independently submit the bill to the Assembly. The Gerousia, however, held the power of nomophylakia and could veto the final decree. This chapter shows that divided power and the need of legal stability were addressed by Spartan institutions, but with different results because of the wider powers of officials in the decree-making. This chapter introduces the important issue of the balance between people’s deliberation and stability of the legal order, which form an important focus of chapters 5 and 6. Chapter 5 discusses the role played by legal procedure of the adeia in fifth-century deliberative decision-making in the Assembly. This chapter provides a new comprehensive account of this legal institution. Adeia instituted a pre-nomothetic procedure, according to which the Assembly could change an entrenched piece of legislation or decree without clashing with the nomothetic ideology. Chapter 6 examines the relationship between deliberation and judicial review in the Greek poleis. The first section discusses the Athenian graphe paranomon, the public charge against an illegal decree. A thorough analysis of the legal procedure and of the institutional design shows that deliberative decisions were made within the framework of the rule of law and the graphe paranomon enforced this principle. This did not imply an institutional prominence of the lawcourts in the Athenian decision-making. The lawcourts performed an important role in the deliberative process through providing a safeguard of legal consistency by adding the legal expertise of the judges to the general rationale of the decree-making. The second part of the chapter is dedicated to the discussion of evidence of judicial review from outside Athens and the multifaceted role of the Hellenistic practice of appointing foreign judges in adjudicating public lawsuits, and especially in the judicial review of decrees.