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DIAPSE´PHISIS (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 (Plut. Per. 37; Harpocr s. v. ποταμός), various measures had been adopted against them (γραφαὶ ξενίας and δωροξενίας); but as none of them had the desired effect, a new method, the διαψήφισις, was devised, according to which the trial on spurious citizens was to be held by the demotae within whose deme intruders (παρέγγραπτοι, Aeschin. F. L. § § 76, 177; Philochorus ap. Schol. Aristoph. Wasps 716) 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 (Harpocr. s. v. δήμαρχος); for in the case brought forward in the oration of Demosthenes against Eubulides, we do not find that he was demarch, but it is merely stated that he was a member of the βουλή. When the demotae were assembled, an oath was administered to them, in which they promised to judge impartially, without favour towards, or enmity against, those persons on whom they might have to pass sentence. The president then read 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. (Dem. c. Eubul. p. 1301.9; Aeschin. l.c.) Pollux (8.18) says that the demotae on this occasion gave their votes with leaves and not with pebbles as was usual, but Demosthenes simply calls them ψῆφοι. If a person was found guilty of having usurped the rights of a citizen (ἀποψηφιζεσθαι), 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. (Arg. ad Demosth. c. Eubul.; Dionys. de Isaeo, 100.16, 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. (Dem. l.c. p. 1306.26.)

The oldest known διαψήφισις occurs in B.C. 445 (Plut. Per. 37; Schol. Aristoph. Vesp. l.c.). [p. 1.626]The chief sources of information are the speeches of Demosthenes and Isaeus already referred to (compare Hermann, Staatsalterth. § 123; Schömann, Assemblies, p. 380 ff.). L. S.]


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