The Ancestral Constitution. Four Studies in Athenian Party Politics at the end of the fifth century B.C.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1953. IX,124p. Cloth. Name and author's dedication on free endpaper. Lower corners pp.103-110 slightly creased.
‘This is a small book, and its four chapters, although closely interconnected by the underlying theme of the ‘patrios politeia’, are more in the nature of articles; the reader is expected to know beforehand a good deal of the sources concerned and the questions discussed. (…) [Fuks’] investigation into the political concept of the ‘ancestral constitution’, with its attempts at distinguishing the different trends of political thought in the late fifth century, is learned, interesting and subtle, sometimes perhaps over-subtle. He presents his results in clear and simple language. (…) The first chapter deals with ‘ the Rider of Cleitophon’, an amendment to Pythodorus decree of spring 411 about the election of thirty 'suggrapheis’ (Arist. Ath. Pol. 29,3). This amendment is our earliest evidence of the demand of a return to the 'ancestral laws’ (…) and it refers by this expression to the laws of Cleisthenes ‘when he established decocracy’. We know enough of Cleitophon to be sure that he was no 'democrat’; in fact, he belonged to the moderately oligarchic group led by Theramenes. By his amendment he tried to make sure that the power given to the suggrapheis by the decree of Pythodorus was somehow limited or at least more clearly defined. The name of Cleisthenes serves as a screen both against the democrats and their adherance to the Periclean constitution and against the extremists who wished to set up a pure oligarchy. (…) It is perhaps unfortunate that Fuks makes no attempt to discussing the place held by Pythodorus’ decree, and thus Cleitophon’s reader as well, in the history of the revolt of 411. Our two sources, Thucydides and Aristotle, differ with regard to the task set to the syggrapheis, and even to the number of the members of the board. (…) The author continues the discussion by collecting further evidence of the views held by moderates, extremists, and democrats on Cleisthenes’ constitution, and on the ideas connected with that vague notion of the ancestral constitution. Some of his arguments are rather artificial, but on the whole he ably demonstrates the vacillating use made of Solon’s and Cleisthenes’ names by any of the political groups; he shows that the disturbed situation of the years between 411 and 403 was largely responsible for it, and that its effects were felt at various occasions throughout the fourth century. (…) And just as the re-established code of laws was not identical with that of Solon, so the patrios politeia of Teisamenus represented full democracy, and not Solon’s constitution. (…) The contribution by this book is very valuable, and Fuks has shed fresh light, it sometimes a slightly oscillating one, on the background of important events in the history of Athens.’ (VICTOR EHRENBERG in Gnomon, pp.378-81). From the library of the late Prof. Dr. Tony Reekmans.