, also ἐπικληρῖτις
). The name given to
the daughter or daughters of an Athenian citizen who had no son, or whose
sons had died leaving no male issue. The ἐπίκληρος
in our sense of the word, an “heiress,” but rather a person who went with
the estate. The heir was either the person to whom her father had devised the property on
condition of marrying her, or her son or sons. It was deemed an object of importance at Athens
to preserve the οἶκος
. This was effected, where a man had no
child, by adoption (εἰσποίησις
); if he had no sons or
grandsons, but a daughter, he might bequeath his property to any person, but the devisee was
obliged to marry her; on the other hand, if he died intestate, her nearest relative might
claim her in marriage, and the inheritance was transmitted through her to a grandson, who was,
when of full age, adopted into the maternal grandfather's family (Isae.
). Such an epiclerus might be claimed in marriage by her
father's brothers, or in default of such by their sons or by the sons of her father's sisters,
or by her father's uncles. If the daughter was poor (θῆσσα
the nearest of kin was bound by law either to marry her himself or to portion her, the law
fixing a sliding scale for the different classes of the census— e. g. 500 drachmas,
if he be of the highest class, etc. If there were several in the same degree of consanguinity,
each of them had to contribute their share (πρὸς μέρος
Upon the nearest relative making his claim before the archon, public notice was given of the
claim; it was written on the σανίς
, and read out in the
following assembly (Poll.viii. 95
), and at a later day the herald
put the question εἴ τις ἀμφισβητεῖν ἢ παρακαταβάλλειν
. If no one appeared to dispute the claim, the archon adjudged the heiress
to him; if other claimants appeared, the archon instituted an anakrisis, and a court was held
for the decision of the right, which was determined according to the Athenian law of
Even when a woman was already married, her husband was obliged to give her up to a man with
a better title; and men sometimes put away their former wives in order to marry heiresses
). Even after the decision of the court had been given in
favour of one claimant, any other person who could show a better title might bring an action
against the husband and claim the heiress ([Demosth.] c. Macart.
The limit of time for making such a claim is not known.
The estate never passed into the possession of the husband of the heiress (Isae.
31); their son when of full age was adopted into his maternal
grandfather's family (Isae.
) and took possession of the estate. He then became his
mother's legal protector (κύριος
), and was bound to find her
maintenance. If there were more sons, they shared the property equally. There were epicleri at
Mitylené and Phocis. With the Lycians daughters only could inherit.