defined by Pollux (3.82) and other authorities to be free labourers working
for hire, like the θῆτες,
contradistinction to the Helots and Penestae, who were bondsmen or serfs,
having lost their freedom by conquest or otherwise. Aristotle (ap. Phot. s.
) thus connects their name with
he says, from
πέλας, οἷον ἔγγιστα διὰ πενίαν
: i. e. persons who are obliged by poverty to attach
themselves to others. Timaeus (Lex. Plat.
s. v.) gives the
same explanation. Πελάτης, ὁ ἀντὶ ὁ ἀντὶ
τροφῶν ὑπηρετῶν καὶ προσπελάζων.
Its origin is therefore
something like that of ἱκέτης,
but it has
more completely the notion of dependence,
sustenance as well as for protection. This will explain how some later Greek
writers came to use it to translate the Latin cliens,
though the relations expressed by the two words are by no
means similar (Dionys.
). The work of the πελάτης
was probably as a rule, if not always, field labour:
whether a groom who was μισθωτός,
slave, as in Plat. Lys.
p. 208 A, could rightly be called
cannot be determined. In Plat.
p. 4, we find a πελάτης
working in the fields along with the slaves, and the
is applied more than once in
that dialogue as the proper term for his labour [cf. THETES
]. Its proper sense of free
labour was not, however, always preserved in later Greek.
Plutarch (Plut. Ages. 100.6
) also uses
the word rather loosely for Helots, and we are told of a nation of Illyrians
(the Ardiaei) who possessed 300,000 prospelatae, compared by Theopompus (ap.
Ath. vi. p. 271d, e)with the Helots of Laconia. (Müller, Dor.
3.4.7; Wachsmuth, Hellen.
vol. i. pp. 361, 811, 2nd ed.; Hermann, Griech.
§ 101, n. 9; Becker-Göll,