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Telōnes, Telōnae

τελῶναι, from τέλος, “a tax”). Among the Athenians, the name telonae was given to the farmers of the taxes and imposts, which were not collected by State officers, but were sold at certain times by auction to the highest bidder. Smaller taxes were taken up by single persons who collected the money themselves. For larger taxes demanding a large capital, companies were often formed, represented by one person called the τελωνάρχης, who concluded the contract with the State. Sureties had also to be produced on this occasion. Such companies employed subordinate officers to collect the taxes. The payments were made by the farmers at certain periods at the senate-house, or βουλευτήριον, and one payment was usually made in advance when the contract was made. In default of payment, the farmer became ἄτιμος, and in certain circumstances might be imprisoned. If the debt was not paid by the expiration of the ninth prytaneia, it was doubled, and the property of the debtor and his sureties confiscated. The ἀτιμία descended to the children until the debt was paid. On the other hand, the farmer was protected by the State against fraud by severe laws. He was also exempt from military service, so that he might not be hindered in performing his duties. For the similar institution among the Romans, see Publicani.

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