'Old Oligarch' is a label often applied to the unknown author of the Athenian Constitution preserved with the works of Xenophon. Probably written in the mid 420s B.C., it is the earliest surviving Athenian prose text, and its author was probably a young pupil of the teachers known as sophists. It is an essay which replies to oligarchic criticisms of the Athenian democracy by agreeing with the critics that democracy is distasteful but arguing that it is appropriate for Athens as a city whose power depends on the poorer citizens who row the navy's ships, and that it is successful and could not easily be overthrown. This edition provides a Greek text and English translation, with Introduction, Commentary and Appendixes which discuss the date, authorship and character of the work, the historical background, the statements and arguments presented by the author and features of the author's style.
...has all the qualities necessary to become a standard work of reference among the studies that deal with the Old Oligarch - it will not be easy to improve on it.'
Reading it has been a stimulating and pleasurable experience. I recommend it very warmly to all interested parties.'
J.L. Marr is Lecturer in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter.
P. J. Rhodes was Professor of Ancient History and is now Honorary Professor and Emeritus Professor at Durham University. He has edited and translated four volumes of Thucydides’ Histories in the Aris & Phillips Classical Texts series, as well as two volumes on the Athenian Constitution. His many other publications include Periclean Athens (Bloomsbury, 2018) and The Greek City States: A Source Boo’ (Cambridge University Press, 2007). He was President of the Classical Association from 2014–15 and was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal, University of Durham, in 2015.