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Diapsephĭsis

διαψήφισις). A political institution at Athens, the object of which was to prevent aliens, or such as were the offspring of an unlawful marriage, from assuming the rights of citizens. As usurpations of this kind were not uncommon at Athens (Pericl. 37), various measures had been adopted against them; but, as none of them had the desired effect, a new method, the διαψήφισις, was devised, according to which the trial of spurious citizens was to be held by the demotae within whose deme intruders (παρέγγραπτοι) were suspected to exist; for if each deme separately was kept clear of intruders, the whole body of citizens would naturally feel the benefit. Every deme, therefore, obtained the right or duty at certain times to revise its lexiarchic registers, and to ascertain whether any had entered their names who had no claims to the rights of citizens. The assembly of the demotae, in which these investigations took place, was held under the presidency of the demarch or some senator belonging to the deme. When the demotae were assembled, an oath was administered to them, in which they promised to judge impartially. The president then read out the names of the demotae from the register, asking the opinion of the assembly (διαψηφίζεσθαι) respecting each individual, whether they thought him a true and legitimate citizen or not. Any one then had the right to say what he thought or knew of the person in question, and when any one was impeached a regular trial took place (Demosth. c. Eubul. p. 1301.9). If a person was found guilty of having usurped the rights of a citizen (ἀποψηφίζεσθαι), his name was struck from the lexiarchic register, and he himself was degraded to the rank of an alien. But if he did not acquiesce in the verdict, but appealed to the great courts of justice at Athens, a heavier punishment awaited him if he was found guilty there also; for he was then sold as a slave, and his property was confiscated by the State (Dion. Hal. De Isaeo, c. 16, and the fragment of the speech pro Euphileto there preserved).

If by any accident the lexiarchic registers had been lost or destroyed, a careful scrutiny of the same nature as that described above, and likewise called διαψήφισις, took place, in order to prevent any spurious citizen from having his name entered in the new registers. See Demus.

The oldest known διαψήφισις occurred in B.C. 445 (Pericl. 37; Schol. Aristoph. Vesp. l. c.).

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