‘ancestral constitution (or way of life)’, slogan apparently used in the late 5th cent. bc at Athens by proponents of oligarchy, as a reassuring but fraudulent way of justifying constitutional change. The fraud lay in the implied claim that earlier reformers like Solon and Cleisthenes (2) had denied full citizen rights (see citizenship, greek) to thetes, confining them to hoplites (zeugitai) and above. Such general nostalgia for the imagined world of Solon and Cleisthenes is found in the 4th cent., and some of the tradition about the 5th cent. may reflect 4th‐cent. arguments.
Subjects: Classical Studies.