serfs. The word is no doubt from the root of πένομαι,
(Dionys. A. R.
; Curtius, Gr. Etym.
272), and we must reject the
ancient derivation quoted below. The Penestae of Thessaly were old
inhabitants of the land conquered and reduced to villenage by the
Thesprotians: according to Theopompus, they were Perrhaebians and Magnetes
2.9, 3) distinguishes these
tribes front the Penestae, speaking of them rather as Perioeci than as
serfs. Others call them Pelasgi, or, in other words, regarded them as the
primitive indigenous people of Thessaly; while Archemachus (ap. Athen. 6.264
) gives the following
account of them:--“The Aeolian Boeotians who did not emigrate when
their country Thessaly was conquered (compare Thuc.
), but from love of home surrendered themselves to serve
the victors, on condition that they should not be carried out of the
country (whence, he adds, they were formerly called Μενέσται,
but afterwards Πενέσται
), nor be put to death, but should
cultivate the land for the new owners of the soil, paying by way of rent
a portion of the produce of it; and many of them are richer than their
masters.” It appears, then, that they occupied an intermediate
position between purchased slaves and freemen, being reduced to serfdom by
conquest, and they are generally conceived to have stood in the same
relation to their Thessalian lords as the Helots did to the Spartiatae; but
this is not exactly the case, for they were apparently not, like the Helots,
serfs of the state, but belonged each to some family for whom the personal
service was performed, for which reason they were sometimes called Θετταλοικέται
a). They were very numerous, for instance, in
the families of the Aleuadae and Scopadae (Theoc. 16.35; Muller, Dor.
3.4.6), but they were not only tillers of the
soil; they formed the retainers of these great families, and served under
their masters as cavalry: a body of 300 Penestae under Menon of Pharsalus
assisted the Athenians in the Peloponnesian war (Dem. c.
p. 687,. § 199; [Dem.] περὶ
p. 173.23). They resembled the Helots, however, in the
fact that they often rose against their masters (Arist. Pol.
l.c.). (See also Grote, Hist. of Greece,
ii. pp. 373-376; Gilbert, Staatsalterthümer,