public officers in most of the Greek states, who had to preserve order in
the streets, to keep them clean, and to see that all buildings, both public
and private, were in a safe state, and not likely to cause injury by falling
down (Arist. Pol.
6.5.3 = p. 1321 b, 19; Plato,
6.759 A, 763 C; Dig. 43
tit. 10, s. 1). Among the cities where inscriptions bearing the name
have been found are Athens,
Ancyra, Cnidus, Eumeneia in Phrygia, Heraclea in Bithynia, Olbia, Rhodes,
Sinope, and Teuthrania. In Plato's ideal Laws
of the astynomi are enlarged beyond what was actually the case at Athens; he
assigns them the control of paving and of the public water supply, which we
know to have been under the care of the ὁδοποιοὶ
and the ἐπιστάται τῶν
(Boeckh, P. E.
p. 203 ff.). The
astynomi at Athens formed a street police, and were ten in number,
corresponding with the number of the tribes, and appointed by lot, five for
the city and five for the Peiraeus (Harpocrat., Suid. s.v. Bekk.
p. 455, 24; C. I. G.
Aristotle states (ap. Harpocrat. l.c.
) that they had
the superintendence of the scavengers (κοπρολόγοι
), which would naturally belong to them as charged
with the cleansing of the streets; as also of musicians of both sexes,
mountebanks, and the like. It is probable, however, that they had only to do
with the latter in virtue of their duty of preserving order in the streets,
since the regulation of public prostitutes belonged to the agoranomi [AGORANOMI
]. We must regard the
supervision of buildings as a part of their functions; the opinion that the
Areiopagus was empowered to deal with such matters, and prevent the streets
being made too narrow, or encroached upon by balconies (δρύφακτοι
), has been proved to be erroneous
p. 415, E. T. ; J. H. Lipsius in
note 198*). It would likewise appear from a
story told of the philosopher Crates by Diogenes Laërtius (6.90),
that they could prevent a person from appearing in public in luxurious or
indecent apparel. The office was regarded as burdensome, and no one could be
compelled to serve in it a second time (Dem. Prooem.
1461). It is mentioned on one occasion that a will was deposited with one of
the astynomi (Isaeus, Or.
§ 15); but this was clearly no part of their official duties, and
must be regarded simply as an instance of private confidence. There was, in
fact, no regular place for the custody of wills at Athens. The notion of an
or public building for the
astynomi rests only on the fancy sketch of Plato, Legg.
11.918 A, and is not supported by definite statements (Meier and
Schömann, Att. Process,
pp. 93-96, with Lipsius'
notes; K. F. Hermann, Staatsalterth.,
§ 150, n. 8,
9; Boeckh, Public Economy,
as above). [W.S
. We have further
proof (Ath. Pol. 50) that the Astynomi, and not the Areiopagus, were charged
with preventing encroachments of private buildings upon the streets. From
the same passage it is clear that windows were not allowed to open back into
the street: cf. DOMUS
p. 987 b.