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Phylé

φυλή). The Greek term for a division of a nation, connected by (supposed) descent from a common ancestor of the stock. Thus the population of Attica, even before Solon, was divided into four phylae, tracing their origin from four legendary sons of Ion, and called Geleontes, Hopletes, Aegicores, and Argades. Probably the division was local, the names referring to the peculiarity or main occupation of the members of each division; for Hopletes appears to mean warriors, Aegicores, goat-herds, and Argades, agriculturalists. The meaning of Geleontes (or Teleontes) is perhaps “the shining.” (See Ionic Tribes.) Each phylé was presided over by a φυλοβασιλεύς (king of the phylé) and divided into three phratriae (brotherhoods, see Phratria), each phratria being subdivided into thirty families. Each family contained about thirty households, and was named after a supposed common progenitor, in whose honour the households celebrated a common cult. Similarly the phratriae and phylae were united by the worship of special protecting deities. These old Ionic phylae were suppressed by Clisthenes, who divided the people into ten entirely different phylae, named after ancient heroes (Erechtheïs, Aegeïs, Pandionis, Leontis, Acamantis, Oeneïs, Cecropis, Hippothontis, Aiantis, Antiochis). They were subdivided into fifty naucrariae and one hundred demi. See Demus.

In B.C. 307, in honour of Demetrius Poliorcetes and his father Antigonis, the phylae were increased by two, called Demetrias and Antigonis, which names were afterwards changed, in honour of Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt and Attalus I. of Pergamon, into Ptolemais and Attalis. In later times, another, Adrianis, was added in honour of the emperor Hadrian. Besides priests for the cult of their eponymous hero, the phylae had presidents, called φύλαρχοι, and treasurers (ταμίαι). The assemblies were always held in Athens, and were concerned, not only with the special affairs of the phylé, but also with State business, especially the notification of the persons liable to State burdens. (See Liturgia.) The ten phylae of Clisthenes served also as a foundation for the organization of the army. The forces were raised when required from the muster-roll of the phylae, and divided accordingly into ten battalions, which were themselves also called phylae.

The Dorian stock was generally divided into three phylae: Hylleis, Dymanes, and Pamphyli, purporting to be named after Hyllus, son of Heracles, and Dymas and Pamphylus, sons of king Aegimius. When families not of Dorian origin formed part of the forces of the State, they constituted an additional phylé. In the purely Dorian state of Sparta the three phylae were divided into thirty obae, answering to the families at Athens. See Doris.

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