Monday, June 25, 2007


Special Laws

Professor David Whitehead in an email writes on special laws:
The constitution of classical Athens made provision for special circumstances in which there could be a so-called nomos ep' andri: see Andocides 1.87 and Demosthenes 24.59. (Demosth. 23.86 and 46.12 give truncated versions that miss this point.) For modern comment see M.H. Hansen, The Athenian Assembly (1987) 87: 'A law (nomos) was in principle a rule binding on all Athenians. Occasionally, however, the Athenians might resort to ad hominem legislation and allow the nomothetai to pass a nomos relating to a named individual (nomos ep' andri). But then the people's decision to appoint a panel of nomothetai had to be ratified by a quorum of 6,000 voting by ballot.' As far as I am aware, however, there are no clearcut examples of this in the record.
Here are the first two passages cited.

Andocides 1.87 (tr. K.J. Maidment):
"No law shall be directed against an individual without applying to all citizens alike, unless an Assembly of six thousand so resolve by secret ballot."

μηδὲ ἐπ' ἀνδρὶ νόμον ἐξεῖναι θεῖναι, ἐὰν μὴ τὸν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν Ἀθηναίοις, ἐὰν μὴ ἑξακισχιλίοις δόξῃ κρύβδην ψηφιζομένοις.
Demosthenes 24.59 (tr. J.H. Vince):
"Nor shall it be lawful to propose a law applying to a particular man, unless the same be applicable to all Athenian citizens, except by the votes of not less than six thousand citizens voting in the affirmative by ballot."

It forbids the introduction of any law that does not affect all citizens alike,--an injunction conceived in the true spirit of democracy. As every man has an equal share in the constitution generally, so this statute asserts his equal share in the laws.

μηδὲ νόμον ἐξεῖναι ἐπ' ἀνδρὶ θεῖναι, ἐὰν μὴ τὸν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν Ἀθηναίοις τιθῇ ἐὰν μὴ ψηφισαμένων μὴ ἔλαττον ἑξακισχιλίων οἷς ἂν δόξῃ κρύβδην ψηφιζομένοις.

οὐκ ἐᾷ νόμον ἀλλ' ἢ τὸν αὐτὸν τιθέναι κατὰ τῶν πολιτῶν πάντων, καλῶς καὶ δημοτικῶς λέγων. ὥσπερ γὰρ τῆς ἄλλης πολιτείας ἴσον μέτεστιν ἑκάστῳ, οὕτω καὶ τούτων ἴσον μετέχειν ἕκαστον ἀξιοῖ.
For some reason Vince neglected to translate κρύβδην (secretly) in the last part of the first sentence.

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