It is not clear how exactly the Athenian legal system functioned in the sixth and early fifth centuries, though most scholars would probably agree that the democracy developed and adapted some procedures which had been established by Solon. But first things first. Who made law in democratic Athens? The only institution capable of this was the assembly, which passed

law by majority vote. In the earlier years of the democracy it seems that little or no effort was made to distinguish between laws which were meant to be permanent (nomoi) and decrees which contained specific decisions about specific matters (pse-phismata). During the fourth century efforts were made to clarify any existing confusions, and decrees were not allowed to overrule any law. The assembly continued to decide on decrees, but lawmaking was carried out by citizens in smaller groups (these were called nomothetai).