a1 Brooklyn College
According to the Aristotelian Constitution of the Athenians (Ath. Pol. 43.4), the Assembly in Athens met four times every prytany. At each one of these meetings certain topics had to be discussed or voted on. For instance, a vote concerning the conduct of magistrates presently in office was to be taken at the κυρα κκλησα. At another meeting anyone who wished to could request a discussion of any matter, be it private or public. Nothing is said in this passage or anywhere else in the Constitution of the Athenians about the possibility of holding additional meetings of the Assembly in times of emergency, but in a few passages in the Attic orators we find the term κκλησία σύγκλητος used. The scholia to these passages and some entries in the ancient lexica indicate that this term refers to an extra meeting of the Assembly which could be convened at short notice in order to deal with emergencies.
On the basis of this information, scholars have in the past concluded that the Assembly normally met four times each prytany in the Classical period, but that extra meetings, called κκλησία σύγκλητο, could also be held if the need arose. Recently, however, M. H. Hansen, whose work on many aspects of the Assembly has greatly increased our understanding of Athenian democracy, has challenged this communis opinio. Hansen argues that the evidence found in the scholia and lexica is unreliable and should be disregarded. In his view, several passages in the speeches of Aeschines and Demosthenes and some fines in IG ii 212 indicate that the Assembly met a fixed number of times each prytany, no more, no less.