Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

Constitutional Evolution in Ancient Athens

  • George TridimasEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_747


The present essay reviews recent political economy research in the policy-making institutions of the direct democracy of ancient Athens, 508–322 (all dates BCE), their origins, and evolution. The historical events, especially tensions between rich and poor and existential external threats, which led to the emergence of the Athenian democracy, are first described. The institutions of decision-making, assembly, magistrates, and courts, are then discussed along with various reforms in response to changing circumstances. The essay ends with some reflections on the nature of the direct democracy, its legitimatization, and the internal consistency of its institutions in comparison to its modern representative analog.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Accounting, Finance and EconomicsUlster University Business SchoolBelfastNorthern Ireland