The Greek term for a man's property as ascertained by the census, as well
as for the act of ascertaining it, is τίμημα.
The only Greek state concerning whose arrangement of
the census we have any satisfactory information, is Athens; for what we
know of the other states is only of a fragmentary nature, and does not
enable us to form an accurate notion of their census. Previous to the
time of Solon no census had been instituted at Athens, as a citizen's
rights were always determined by birth; but, as Solon substituted
property for birth, and made a citizen's rights and duties dependent
upon his property, it became a matter of necessity to ascertain by a
general census the amount of the property of the Athenian citizens.
According to his census, all citizens were divided into four classes:
- 1. πεντακοσιομέδιμνοι, or
persons possessing landed property which yielded an annual
income of at least 500 medimni of dry or liquid produce.
- 2. ἱππεῖς, i. e. knights or
persons able to keep a war-horse, wore those whose lands yielded
an annual produce of at least 300 medimni, whence they are also
- 3. ζευγῖται, i. e. persons
able to keep a yoke of oxen (ζεῦγος), were those whose annual income consisted of
at least 150 medimni.
- 4. The θῆτες contained all
the rest of the free population, whose income was below that of
(Plut. Sol. 18
, and the
Lexicographers, s. vv.
) These classes themselves
were called τιμήματα
: and the
constitution of Athens, so long as it was based upon these classes, was
a timocracy (τιμοκρατία
or ἀπὸ τιμημάτων πολιτεία
). The highest
magistracy at Athens, or the archonship, was at first accessible only to
persons of the first class, until Aristides threw all the state offices
open to all classes indiscriminately. (Plut.
maintenance of the republic mainly devolved upon the first three
classes, the last being exempted from all taxes. Sometimes we indeed
find mention of a θητικὸν τέλος,
the expression θητικὸν τελεῖν,
the tax of θῆτες
(Lex ap. Dem.
p. 1067.54; Bekker, Anecd.
p. 261; Etym. M.
s. v.); but this cannot
be understood of a special tax which the fourth class had to pay, but
must be explained in a more general sense, for τέλος τελεῖν
means generally, to perform the duties
arising out of persons being connected with one or other of the classes,
and need not therefore refer to any special tax.
In regard to the duties which the above-mentioned census imposed upon the
first three of the classes, we must distinguish certain personal
obligations or liturgies (λειτουργίαι
which had to be performed by individuals according to the class to which
they belonged [LEITURGIAE], and certain taxes
and burdens which were regulated according to the classes; so that all
citizens belonging to the same class had the same burdens imposed upon
them. As the land in the legislation of Solon was regarded as the
capital which yielded an annual income, he regulated his system of
taxation by the value of the land which was treated as the taxable
capital. There is a passage in Pollux (8.130, 132) in which he says that
a pentacosiomedimnus expended one talent on the public account, a
thirty minae, and a
ten minae. Now this seems
to be impossible; for, as Solon (Plut. Sol.
) reckoned the medimnus of dry produce at one drachma, we must
suppose that a member of the first class was reckoned to have an annual
income of 500 drachmae, or the twelfth part of a talent. But the
difficulty may be solved in this manner. The valuation which Solon put
upon the land of an Athenian citizen was in reality neither the real
value of the property, nor the amount of the property tax, but only a
certain portion of the real property which was treated as the taxable
capital. Solon in his census ascertained a person's landed property [p. 1.404]
from its net annual produce; and the number of
medimni which it was supposed to produce were reckoned as so many
drachmae. But the produce was probably not calculated higher than was
done when the estate was let out to farm. The rent paid by a farmer was
probably not much more than 8 per cent., as it was in the time of Isaeus
], § 42). Now,
if we suppose that in the time of Solon it was 8 1/3 per cent., the net
produce of an estate was exactly 1/12 of the value of the property, and
accordingly the value of the property of a person belonging to the first
class was one talent; in the second, 3600 drachmae; and in the third,
1800 drachmae. Solon, in taxing the citizens, was wise enough to see
that the same standard could not be applied to all the three classes;
for the smaller a person's income is, the smaller ought to be the
standard of taxation. Accordingly, a person belonging to the first
class, being the wealthiest, had to pay a tax on his entire property,
while only a portion of the property of the persons belonging to the two
other classes was regarded as taxable capital; viz. persons of the
second paid the tax only of 5/6 and persons of the third class only of I
of their property. Lists of this taxable property (ἀπογραφαί
) were kept at first by the naucrari, who also
had to conduct the census (Hesych. sub voce
), and afterwards by the
demarchi (Harpocrat. s. v. δήμαρχοι
As property is a fluctuating thing, the census was repeated from time to
time, but the periods differed in the various parts of Greece, for in
some a census was held every year, and in others every two or four
years. (Aristot. Pol. 5.8
person had conscientiously to state the amount of his property; and if
there was any doubt about his honesty, it seems that a counter-valuation
) might be made. Now,
supposing that all the taxable capital of the Athenian citizens was
found to be 3000 talents, and that the state wanted 60 talents, or 1/30
part of it, each citizen had to pay away 1/50 part of his taxable
property: that is, a person of the first class paid 120 drachmae (the
50th part of 6000); a person of the second, 60 drachmae (the 50th part
of 3000); and a person of the third class, 20 drachmae (the 50th part of
1000). It is, however, not improbable that persons belonging to the same
class may have had to pay a different amount of taxes according as their
property was equal to the minimum or above it; and Böckh, in
his Public Economy of Athens,
has made out a table, in
which each class is subdivided into three sections.
This system of taxation according to classes, and based upon the
possession of productive estates, underwent a considerable change in the
time of the Peloponnesian war, though the division into classes itself
continued to be observed for a considerable time after. As the wants of
the republic increased, and as many citizens were possessed of large
property without being landed proprietors, the original land-tax was
changed into a property-tax. In this manner we must explain the proposal
of Euripides, shortly before B.C. 393, to raise 500 talents by imposing
a tax of one-fortieth part. (Aristoph.
, &c.) For the taxable capital, viz. 20,000
talents, far exceeds the amount of all the landed property in Attica.
This property tax, which was substituted for the land tax, was called
concerning which see EISPHORA
Compare LEITURGIAE; and for the taxes paid by resident
aliens, METOECI. (Böckh, Publ.
Econ. of Athens,
p. 495, &c., 2nd edition; comp.
1.455, E. T.)
. In this article
the property qualification of the Zeugitae is given, on the authority of
Boeckh and Schömann, at 150 medimni a year. The more usual
statement, following Plutarch (Plut. Sol.
) and several passages of the grammarians, puts the figure at
200: a view strongly maintained by Grote (2.320 n., [p. 1.1065]
ed. 1862). Gilbert (Staatsalterth.
declares that the question cannot be positively decided. To the
testimony of later writers in favour of the number 200 is now added the
earlier and better authority of Aristotle (Ἀθ.
100.7), and this must be pronounced by far the most