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In this volume, Mirko Canevaro studies the 'state' documents (laws and decrees) preserved in the public speeches of the Demosthenic corpus. These documents purport to be Athenian statutes and, if authentic, provide invaluable information about Athenian history, law, and institutions.
Offering a comprehensive account of the presence of the documents in the corpora of the orators and in the manuscript tradition, this volume summarizes previous scholarship and delineates a new methodology for analyzing the documents.
Examining the documents found in Demosthenes' On the Crown, Against Meidias, Against Aristocrates, Against Timocrates, and Apollodorus' Against Neaera, the core of the volume, which includes a chapter by Edward M. Harris, provides a guide for the reliability of the individual documents, and advances new interpretations of important Athenian laws, such as homicide regulations, legislative procedures, laws on theft, seduction, naturalization, and outlawry.
Canevaro argues that some of the documents have been inserted into the speeches in an Athenian environment at the beginning of the third century BC and are therefore reliable, while many others are later forgeries. These forgeries are early products of the tradition of historical declamations and progymnasmata, and could be used as evidence of Hellenistic oratory and rhetorical education.