The Territorial Basis of the Attic Demes

The Origins and Nature of the Greek City-State and its Significance for World Settlement History
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But it fell short of a pure system in three respects: firstly, it was not founded upon territory; secondly, all the dignities of the state were not open to every citizen; and thirdly, the principle of local self-government in primary organizations was unknown, except, as it may have existed imperfectly in the naucraries. The gentes, phratries and tribes still remained in full vitality, but with diminished powers.

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It was a transitional condition, requiring further experience to develop the theory of a political system toward which it was a great advance. Thus slowly but, steadily human institutions are evolved from lower into higher forms, through the logical operations of the human mind working in uniform but predetermined channels. There was one weighty reason for the overthrow of the gentes and the substitution of a new plan of government. It was probably recognized by Theseus, and undoubtedly by Solon. From the disturbed condition of the Grecian tribes and the unavoidable movements of the people in the traditionary period and in the times prior to Solon, many persons transferred themselves from one nation to another, and thus lost their connection with their own gens without acquiring a connection with another.

All such persons, as before remarked, would be without the pale of the government with which there could be no connection excepting through a gens and tribe. The fact is noticed by Mr. When they came in families they would bring a fragment of a new gens with them; but they would remain aliens unless the new gens was admitted into a tribe.

This probably occurred in a number of cases, and it may assist in explaining the unusual number of gentes in Greece. The gentes and phratries were close corporations, both of which would have been adulterated by the absorption of these aliens through adoption into a native gens.

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Persons of distinction might be adopted into some gens, or secure the admission of their own gens into some tribe; but the poorer class would be refused either privilege. There can be no doubt that as far back as the time of Theseus, and more especially in the time of Solon, the number of the unattached class, exclusive of the slaves, had become large. Having neither gens nor phratry they were also without direct religious privileges, which were inherent and exclusive in these organizations.

It is not difficult to see in this class of persons a growing element of discontent dangerous to the security of society. The schemes of Theseus and of Solon made imperfect provision for their admission to citizenship through the classes; but as the gentes and phratries remained from which they were excluded, the remedy was still incomplete. The four tribes consisted altogether of gentes and phratries, insomuch that no one could be included in any one of the tribes who was not also a member of some gens and phratry.

Now the new probouleutic or pre-considering senate consisted of members,- from each of the tribes: persons not included in any gens and phratry could therefore have had no access to it. The conditions of eligibility were similar, according to ancient custom, for the nine archons — of course, also, for the senate of Areopagus.

So that there remained only the public assembly, in which an Athenian, not a member of these tribes, could take part: yet he was a citizen, since he could give his vote for archons and senators, and could take part in the annual decision of their account- ability, besides being entitled to claim redress for wrong from the archons in his own person — while the alien could only do so through the intervention of an avouching citizen, or Prostates.

It seems therefore that all persons not included in the four tribes, whatever their grade or fortune might be, were on the same level in respect to political privilege as the fourth and poorest class of the Solonian census. It has already been remarked, that even before the time of Solon, the number of Athenians not included in the gentes or phratries was probably considerable: it tended to become greater and greater, since these bodies were close and un-expansive, while the policy of the new lawgiver tended to invite industrious settlers from other parts of Greece to Athens.

They were not members of any gens, and therefore formed no part of the Populus Romanus. We may find in the facts stated one of the reasons of the failure of the gentile organization to meet the requirements of society, In the time of Solon, society had outgrown their ability to govern, its affairs had advanced so far beyond the condition in which the gentes originated.

They furnished a basis too narrow for a state, up to the measure of which the people had grown. There was also an increasing difficulty in keeping the members of a gens, phratry and tribe locally together. As parts of a governmental organic series, this fact of localization was highly necessary. In the earlier period, the gens held its lands in common, the phratries held certain lands in common for religious uses, the tribe probably held other lands in common. When they established themselves in country or city, they settled locally together by gentes, by phratries and by tribes, as a consequence of their social organization.

Each gens was in the main by itself — not all of its members, for two gentes were represented in every family, but the body who propagated the gens. Those gentes belonging to the same phratry naturally sought contiguous or at least near areas, and the same with the several phratries of the tribe. But in the time of Solon, lands and houses had come to be owned by individuals in severalty, with power of alienation as to lands, but not of houses out of the gens.

It doubtless became more and more impossible to keep the members of a gens locally together, from the shifting relations of persons to land, and from the creation of new property by its members in other localities. The unit of their social system was becoming unstable in place, and also in character.

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Without stopping to develop this fact of their condition further, it must have proved one of the reasons of the failure of the old plan of government. The township, with its fixed property and its inhabitants for the time being, yielded that element of permanence now wanting in the gens. Society had made immense progress from its former condition of extreme simplicity. It was very different from that which the gentile organization was instituted to govern.

Nothing but the unsettled condition and incessant warfare of the Athenian tribes, from their settlement in Attica to the time of Solon, could have preserved this organization from overthrow.

The Territorial Basis of the Attic Demes

After their establishment in walled cities, that rapid development of wealth and numbers occurred which brought the gentes to the final test, and demonstrated their inability to govern a people now rapidly approaching civilization. But their displacement even then required a long period of time. The seriousness of the difficulties to be overcome in creating a political society are strikingly illustrated in the experience of the Athenians.

In the time of Solon, Athens had already produced able men; the useful arts had attained a. They were in fact a civilized people, and had been for two centuries; but their institutions of government were still gentile, and of the type prevalent throughout the Later Period of barbarism. A great impetus had been given to the Athenian commonwealth by the new system of Solon; nevertheless, nearly a century elapsed, accompanied with many disorders, before the idea of a state was fully developed in the Athenian mind. Out of the naucrary, a conception of a township as the unit of a political system was finally elaborated; but it required a man of the highest genius, as well as great personal influence, to seize the idea in its fullness, and give it an organic embodiment.

That man finally appeared in Cleisthenes B. Cleisthenes went to the bottom of the question, and placed the Athenian political system upon the foundation on which it remained to the close of the independent existence of the commonwealth. He divided Attica into a hundred demes, or townships, each circumscribed by metes and bounds, and distinguished by a name. Every citizen was required to register himself, and to cause an enrolment of his property in the deme in which he resided. This enrolment was the evidence as well as the foundation of his civil privileges.

The deme displaced the naucrary. Its inhabitants were an organized body politic with powers of local self-government, like the modern: American township. This is the vital and the remarkable feature of the system. It reveals at once its democratic character. The government was placed in the hands of the people in the first of the series of territorial organizations. The demotae elected a demarch, who had the custody of the public register; he had also power to convene the demotae for the purpose of electing- magistrates and judges, for revising the registry of citizens, and for the enrolment of such as became of age during the year.

They elected a treasurer, and provided for the assessment and collection of taxes, and for furnishing the quota of troops required of the deme for the service of the state. They also elected thirty dicasts or judges, who tried all causes arising in the deme where the amount involved fell below a certain sum. Besides these powers of local self-government, which is the essence of a democratic system each deme had its own temple and religious worship, and its own priest, also elected by the demotae. Omitting minor, particulars, we find the instructive and remarkable fact that the township, as first instituted, possessed all the powers of local self-government, and even upon a fuller and larger scale than an American township.

Freedom in religion is also noticeable, which was placed where it rightfully belongs, under the control of the people. All registered citizens were free, and equal in their rights and privileges, with the exception of equal eligibility to the higher offices. Such was the new unit of organization in Athenian political society, at once a model for a free state, and a marvel of wisdom and knowledge. The Athenians commenced with a democratic organization at the point where every people must commence who desire to create a free state, and place the control of the government in the hands of its citizens.

The second member of the organic territorial series consisted of ten demes, united in a larger geographical district. It was called a local tribe, to preserve some part of the terminology of the old gentile system. The demes in each district were usually contiguous, which should have been true in every instance to render the analogy complete, but in a few cases one or more of the ten were detached, probably in consequence of the local separation of portions of the original consanguine tribe who desired to have their deme incorporated in the district of their immediate kinsmen.

The inhabitants of each district or county were also a body politic, with certain powers of local self-government. They elected a phylarch, who commanded the cavalry; a taxiarcb, who commanded the foot-soldiers and a general, who commanded both; and as each district was required to furnish five triremes, they probably elected as many trierarchs to command them. Cleisthenes increased the senate to five hundred and assigned fifty to each district. They were elected by its inhabitants. Other functions of this larger body politic doubtless existed, but they have been imperfectly explained.

The third and last member of the territorial series was the Athenian commonwealth or state, consisting of ten local tribes or districts. It was an organised body politic embracing the aggregate of Athenian citizens. It was represented by a senate, an ecclesia, the court of Areopagus, the archons, and judges, and the body of elected military and naval commanders.

Les Princes de la Protohistoire et l'émergence de l'État

Thus the Athenians founded the second great plan of government upon territory and upon property. They substituted a series of territorial aggregates in the place of an ascending series of aggregates of persons. As a plan of government it rested upon territory which was necessarily permanent and upon property which was more or less localised; and it dealt with its citizens, now localized in demes through their territorial relations.

To be a citizen of the state it was necessary to be a citizen of a deme. The person voted and was taxed in his deme, and he was called into the military service from his deme. In like manner he was called by election into the senate, and to the command of a division of the army or navy from the larger district of his local tribe. His relations to a gens or phratry ceased to govern his duties as a citizen. The contrast between the two systems is as marked as their difference was fundamental. A coalescence of the people into bodies politic in territorial areas now became complete.

The territorial series enters into the plan of government of modern civilized nations. Among ourselves, for example, we have the township, the county, the state, and the United States; the inhabitants of each of which are an organized body politic with powers of local self-government. Each organization is in full vitality and performs its functions within a definite sphere in which it is supreme.

France has a similar series in the commune, the arrondissement, the department, and the empire, now the republic.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

To browse Academia. Gomme, A. But the most likely meaning of eudeielos is "sunny," the word being used of places exposed to the hot sun e. Strong-tie networks tend to operate as small and closed cliques. I assume that the historian expresses here a sharp opposition between coastalness and inlandness in relation to a land-locked location. The island Phaura is now called Fleva or Flega.

In Great Britain the series is the parish, the shire, the kingdom, and the three kingdoms. In the Saxon period the hundred seems to have been the analogue of the township [8] but already emasculated of the powers of local self- government, with the exception of the hundred court. The inhabitants of these several areas were organized as bodies politic, but those below the highest with very limited powers. The tendency to centralization under monarchical institutions has atrophied, practically, all the lower organizations.

As a consequence of the legislation of Cleisthenes, the gentes, phratries and tribes were divested of their influence, because their powers were taken from them and vested in the deme, the local tribe and the state, which became from thenceforth the sources of all political power. They were not dissolved, however, even after this overthrow, but remained for centuries as a pedigree and lineage, and as fountains of religious life.

In certain orations of Domosthenes, where the cases involved personal or property rights, descents or rights of sepulture, both the gens: and phratry appear as living organizations in his time.

Sur les mêmes thèmes :

THE TERRITORIAL BASIS OF THE ATTIC DEMES. MERLE K. LANGDON. University of Washington. It is a basic assumption upon which the writings of virtually. Online shopping from a great selection at Books Store.

The classes, however, both those instituted by Theseus and those afterwards created by Solon, disappeared after the time of Cleisthenes. Solon is usually regarded as the founder of Athenian democracy, while some writers attribute a portion of the work to Cleisthenes and Theseus. We shall draw nearer the truth of the matter by regarding Theseus, Solon and Cleisthenes as standing connected with three great movements of the Athenian people, not to found a democracy, for Athenian democracy was older than either, but to change the plan of government from a gentile into a political organization.

Neither sought to change the existing principles of democracy which had been inherited from the gentes. They contributed in their respective times to the great movement for the formation of a state, which required the substitution of a political in the place of gentile society. The invention of a township, and the organization of its inhabitants as a body politic, was the main feature in the problem. It may seem to us a simple matter; but it taxed the capacities of the Athenians to their lowest depths before the idea of a township found expression in its actual creation.

It was an inspiration of the genius of Cleisthenes; and it stands as the master work of a master mind. In the new political society they realized that complete democracy which already existed in every essential principle, hut which required a change in the plan of government to give it a more ample field and a fuller expression. It is precisely here, as it seems to the writer, that we have been misled by the erroneous assumption of the great historian, Mr, Grote, whose general views of Grecian institutions are so sound and perspicuous, namely, that the early governments of the Grecian tribes were essentially monarchical.

No such revolution occurred, and no radical change of institutions was ever effected, for the reason that they were and always had been essentially democratical. Usurpations not unlikely occurred, followed by controversies for the restoration of the: previous order; but they never lost their liberties, or those ideas of freedom and of the right of self-government which had been their inheritance in all ages.

Recurring for a moment to the basileus, the office tended to make the man more conspicuous than any other in their affairs. He was the first person to catch the mental eye of the historian by whom he has been metamorphosed into a king; notwithstanding he was made to reign, and by divine right, over a rude democracy. As a general in a military democracy, the basileus becomes intelligible, and without violating the institutions that actually existed. Evidence is not wanting that the popular element was constantly active to resist encroachments on personal rights. The basileus belongs to the traditionary period; when the powers of government were more or less undefined; but the council of chiefs existed in the centre of the system, and also the gentes, phratries and tribes in full vitality.

These are sufficient to determine the character of the government. But the transition was not only natural but inevitable if the people followed their ideas to their logical results. It was a change of plan, but not of principles nor even of instrumentalities. The council of chiefs remained in the senate, the agora in the ecclesia; the three highest archons were respectively ministers of state, of religion, and of justice as before, while the six interior archons exercised judicial functions in connection with the courts, and the large body of dicasts now: elected annually for judicial service.

No executive officer existed under the system, which is one of its striking peculiarities. The nearest approach to it was the president of the senate, who was elected by lot for a single day, without this possibility of a re-election during the year. For a single day he presided over the popular assembly, and held the keys of the citadel and of the treasury. Under the new government the popular assembly held the substance of power, and guided the destiny of Athens. The new element which gave stability and order to the state: was the deme or township, with its complete autonomy, and local self- government.

A hundred demes similarly organized would determine the general movement of the commonwealth. As the unit, so the compound. It is here that the people, as before remarked, must begin if they would learn the art of self-government, and maintain equal laws and equal rights and privileges. They must retain in their hands, all the powers of society not necessary to the state to insure an efficient general administration, as well as the control of the administration itself.

Athenian democracy

Athens rose rapidly into influence and distinction under the new political system. That remarkable development of genius and intelligence, which raised the Athenians to the highest eminence among the historical nations of mankind, occurred under the inspiration of democratic institutions. With the institution of political society under Cleisthenes, the gentile organization was laid aside as a portion of the rags of barbarism. Oxford Classical Dictionary. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search within subject: Select Read More. Subscriber sign in. Forgot password? Don't have an account?

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