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Work Decree of Kallias

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Décrets sur l'organisation des finances publiques

© 1998 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Barnard Simon

This decree, concerning the financing of work on the embellishment of the Acropolis, was drawn up after a proposal by Kallias and shows how public life was organized in Athens during the classical period. The script is characteristic of the late fifth century BC.

An Athenian decree

This Athenian decree governs the organization of public finances at the end of the fifth century BC. It orders the return of loans made by the people of Athens to the treasurers of the sanctuaries, in order to finance work on the embellishment of the Acropolis and other city sites, such as the arsenal and the city walls. The law also provides for changes in the way the riches of the gods are managed.

The organization of Athenian institutions

The inscription describes the functioning of the Athenian institutions. The city council (the boule) would propose a draft law ("probouleuma") to the popular assembly ("ekklesia"). In this instance, the man proposing the law (called a "rogator" in Latin) is an Athenian politician by the name of Kallias. The ten Athenian tribes represented on the council would each provide fifty councilors ("prytaneis"), and would take it in turn to preside over the council for a tenth of a year each, under the authority of a president ("epistate"). In this instance, the president is Eupeithes of the Cecropes tribe (named after Cecrops, the legendary first king of Athens). All this is mentioned in the title of the decree, so that the responsible parties (in particular, the "rogator") could be identified should a charge of illegality be brought against the law, following a procedure called "graphe paranomon", whereby any citizen could contest a law after it had been passed.

The script

The dating of the piece, which it is difficult to establish precisely, is based partly on the script of the Greek inscription. The letters are superposed in columns, in a regular script called "stoichedon" in Greek. The spelling and the old style of certain letters (Λ, the "lambda", Ν, Ι for γ, λ, ν, ζ) mean that the decree was engraved before the reform carried out by Eukleides in 403 BC.


FRÖHNER W., Les inscriptions grecques, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1865, n° 47, pp. 98-105.
WADE-GERY H. T., Journal Hellenistic Studies, 51, 1931, pp. 57-85, pl. 1-3.
IG I3 52, Inscriptiones Atticae Euclidis anno (403/2) anteriores. 1 Decreta et tabulae magistratum, éd. D. Lewis, Berlin, 1981.
MEIGGS R., LEWIS D., A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions to the end of the 5th century BC, 1969, n° 58, pp. 154-159.
MERITT B. D., 'Thucydides and the Decrees of Kallias, Studies in Attic Epigraphy, History and Topography presented to Eugene Vanderpool', Hesperia, suppl. XIX, Princeton, 1982, pp. 112-121.

Technical description

  • Décrets sur l'organisation des finances publiques

    Seconde moitié du Ve siècle avant J.-C.


  • Marbre pentélique (de la région d'Athènes)

    H. : 52 cm. ; l. : 71 cm. ; Pr. : 18 cm.

  • Don de A. de Roujoux, consul de France, sous le règne de Louis Philippe, 1839 (LP 2626) , 1839

    Ma 856

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Lower ground floor
    Epigraphy gallery
    Room 2, temporarily closed to the public

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