), 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
); 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
§ § 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.
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
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.
Demosth. c. Eubul.;
100.16, and the fragment of the speech pro
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
took place, in order to
prevent any spurious citizen from having his name entered in the new
registers. (Dem. l.c.
The oldest known διαψήφισις
occurs in B.C.
445 (Plut. Per. 37
; Schol. Aristoph.
l.c.). [p. 1.626]
The chief sources
of information are the speeches of Demosthenes and Isaeus already referred
to (compare Hermann, Staatsalterth.
p. 380 ff.). L. S.]