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Oral “agreement”, written contract, and the bonds of law at Athens

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter the author investigates the link between private dealings and the political idea. The chapter begins in the era of the Rhetoric, when the commonplace is well attested, in order to outline the ordinary practice and the working assumptions. It then turns back to the period when the special construction of law as a semi-literate contract of this type seems to emerge, the decade following the restoration, when litigants in the courts argued over their obligations under the Covenants of Reconciliation. In Athenian agreements, however, there was no suit to void a contract or any for breach of contract per se. Finally, the Athenians acknowledged their Reconciliation out loud upon the synthêkai that defined their rights and limitations under the new regime. And that historic contract became a new model for what is binding about the Law.

Keywords: Athenian agreements; Athens; Bonds; covenants of reconciliation; Law; law construction; Rhetoric era; semi-literate contract; synthêkai; Written Contract



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