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THETES (θῆτες). In earlier times this name denoted any freemen who worked for hire (οἱ ἕνεκα τροφῆς. δουλεύοντες, Photius, s.v. ἐλευθερῶν ὄνομα διὰ πενίαν ἐπ᾽ ἀργυρίῳ δουλευόντων, Pollux, 3.32). Homer (Hom. Od. 4.644) speaks of θῆτες τε δμῶές τε, the latter properly signifying those who became slaves by captivity. That Thetes were not adscripti glebae, like the Penestae or Helots, appears from Od. 11.489, and still more plainly from Od. 18.357 if., where “free contract” and “sufficient wages” are expressly mentioned. (Compare Schömann, Ant. Jur. Publ. p. 70; Antiq. 1.41 E. T.; SERVUS p. 656 b).

The persons best known by the name of θῆτες are the members of the fourth or lowest class at Athens, according to the political division of Solon. They are spoken of under CENSUS (Greek) in Vol. I. The cleruchies (κληρουχίαι) of the time of the Peloponnesian war were mostly recruited from them. As Thetes they did not serve in the Athenian army as hoplites, only as ψιλοί: but on becoming cleruchs they passed into the class of (ζευγῖται, and therefore of hoplites. The Athenian armies during the war were thus reinforced by at least 10,000 men (Gilbert, Staatsalterth. 1.421).

[C.R.K] [W.W]

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