previous next


τέλος). A tax. The taxes imposed by the Athenians and collected at home were either ordinary or extraordinary. The former constituted a regular or permanent source of income; the latter were only raised in time of war or other emergency. The ordinary taxes were held mostly upon property, and upon citizens indirectly, in the shape of toll or customs; though the resident aliens paid a poll-tax (called μετοίκιον) for the liberty of residing at Athens under the protection of the State. There was a duty of two per cent. (πεντηκοστή) levied upon all exports and imports. An excise was paid on all sales in the market (called ἐπωνία), though it is not known what the amount was. Slave-owners paid a duty of three oboli for every slave they kept; and slaves who had been emancipated paid the same. This was for a long time a very productive tax before the fortification of Decelea by the Lacedaemonians. The justice fees (πρυτανεῖα, παράστασις) were a lucrative tax in time of peace. The extraordinary taxes were the property-tax, and the compulsory services called “liturgies” (λειτουργίαι). Some of these last were regular, and recurred annually; the most important, the trierarchia, was a war-service, and performed as occasion required. As these services were all performed, wholly or partly, at the expense of the individual, they may be regarded as a species of tax. (See Eisphora; Liturgia; Trierarchia.) The tribute (φόρος) paid by the allied States to the Athenians formed, in the flourishing period of the Republic, a regular and most important source of revenue. In Olymp. 91-2, the Athenians substituted for the tribute a duty of five per cent. (εἰκοστή) on all commodities exported or imported by the subject States, thinking to raise by this means a larger income than by direct taxation. This was terminated by the issue of the Peloponnesian War, though the tribute was afterwards revived, on more equitable principles, under the name of σύνταξις. Other sources of revenue were derived by the Athenians from their mines (μέταλλα), and public lands, fines, and confiscations. The public demesne lands, whether pasture or arable, houses or other buildings, were usually let by auction to private persons. The conditions of the lease were engraved on stone. The rent was payable by prytaneias. These various sources of revenue produced, according to Aristophanes, an annual income of two thousand talents in the most flourishing period of Athenian hegemony. Though τέλος may signify any payment in the nature of a tax or duty, it is more commonly used of the ordinary taxes, as customs, etc. Ἰσοτέλεια signifies the right of being taxed on the same footing and having other privileges the same as citizens—a right sometimes granted to resident aliens; ἀτέλεια signifies an exemption from taxes, or other duties and services—an honour very rarely granted by the Athenians. As to the farming of taxes, see Telones. See also Gilbert, Greek Constitutional Antiquities, pp. 351 foll., Eng. trans. (1895).

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: